Celia Fleischaker, CMO at Verint chats about Verint’s recent acquisition of Conversocial while taking us through a few key B2B marketing best practices:
Welcome to this MarTech Series chat Celia, how has your marketing journey been through the years, we’d love to hear more about it. What made you foray into marketing?
Marketing has always been a passion of mine that has turned into a fulfilling career. I have been in B2B technology marketing for more than 25 years and recently joined Verint as CMO in 2020. Before Verint, I led the marketing organizations at high-growth enterprise software companies PROS and Epicor, experiencing both public and private equity ownership.
Epicor is where I spent close to 20 years of my career. It was here where I really grew and nurtured my marketing career in roles ranging from field marketing, product marketing, corporate marketing, and eventually CMO. Moving around the marketing organization allowed me to walk in the shoes of each of those core roles and hone my experience. I discovered that my stint in product marketing was one of the most important stops along the way. This is where I really learned the importance of listening to the needs of the buyer. I learned how to speak to the market and craft a value proposition from the perspective of the customer. My experience at Epicor and PROS provided me with an invaluable foundation that I’ve been able to build on at Verint.
I have been with Verint for a little over a year. Leading the marketing efforts for a company that works with more than 85% of the Fortune 100 is exciting and the opportunity we have in front of us is terrific. What we do – help companies build enduring customer relationships – has never been more critical for an organization. It is one of the reasons I joined Verint. I believe in the company and its mission.
Starting any new role can be challenging; starting during a pandemic added to the complexity. Despite the challenges, Verint’s welcoming culture quickly embraced me, and the supportive nature of the team enabled me to hit the ground running.
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Tell us more about your role at Verint? How have you helped drive/revamp core marketing initiatives since you started here as CMO – a few learnings and takeaways to share from during this time?
As a marketer, I love working with customers at every touchpoint that occurs along the customer journey, which is exactly what Verint enables with its solutions. We drive customer engagement and customer experience initiatives for some of the world’s most iconic brands, so bringing Verint’s industry-leading solutions to market is very exciting for me. Being in a market that is experiencing dynamic shifts is exciting as well. The transition to digital channels accelerated by the pandemic impacted brands in a big way. Verint was right at the center of helping our customers adapt to both changing workforce and customer engagement dynamics.
In my first year at Verint, my team powered through some key accomplishments. This includes supporting the company’s spin-off of Cognyte Software, which began Verint’s rebrand as a pure-play customer engagement vendor, and the launch of a new messaging and positioning platform. Getting people to know Verint as The Customer Engagement Company™ post-spinoff was a critical success factor in launching a new brand identity.
The effort included releasing Verint’s Engagement Capacity Gap (ECG) global research study, which surveyed nearly 2,300 global business leaders across 12 countries on trends and challenges in customer engagement in the COVID era, perceived organizational preparedness, and future plans. The report found that only 50 percent of business leaders say they are well prepared to support customer engagement priorities moving forward, and 82 percent say the challenges of managing customer engagement will only increase in 2021.
As the complexities of customer engagement increase, marketers have an opportunity to play an increasingly impactful role in the organization. A marketing leader that is data-driven at heart with a natural ability to authentically listen to, engage with, and understand customers will be able to have a positive impact on the broader organization. A marketer that can help to drive a better customer experience will be in a position to drive a meaningful impact on the company’s long-term success.
Verint recently acquired Conversocial, can you tell us the core benefits of this change to end users?
We’re so excited to bring Conversocial into the Verint fold to expand our robust support for digital-first engagement. Culturally, Conversocial is the perfect fit as well, given the company lives and breathes customer experience. The opportunity to integrate their industry-leading messaging and social channel capabilities puts us even further ahead of the digital-first curve, with connections to some of the most commonly used engagement channels, including Apple Business Chat, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, and WhatsApp.
This acquisition plays a significant role in expanding the breadth of Verint’s cloud platform capabilities to help brands accelerate AI-powered, digital-first engagement strategies that are frictionless, contextual, and personalized across the entire customer journey. Conversocial serves as a differentiator for Verint. Combined with the rest of the platform, customers will benefit from greater orchestration across customer engagement channels.
Messaging channels are becoming more prominent for marketers today, can you talk about this growth and how you see this evolve in the near future?
Today’s consumers are rewriting customer service rules and are no longer wedded to a specific care channel anymore. This has many marketing leaders rethinking traditional models to better connect with their customers through social and messaging platforms. At Verint, we’re seeing that customer conversations have shifted from public social channels to one-to-one personalized messaging, and brands are increasingly looking for ways to turn messaging into a strategic commerce and care channel for customer experience advantage.
Private messaging channels such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp have exploded in popularity. In fact, private messaging conversations grew 87% last year and are expected to be the dominant way customers engage with brands.
One of the critical benefits of messaging is customers have a single-entry point to a continuous conversation. Once they are in a WhatsApp chat, for example, the consumer can re-engage at any time – with minimal effort.
We are leading this journey in the evolution of customer care via the acquisition of Conversocial who was already helping leading brands such as Google, Sephora, British Airways, and Hertz build and scale relationships through the personal touch and convenience of social messaging.
In what ways can brand marketers use messaging platforms and messaging channels to deepen personalization and relevance in their customer engagement tactics?
Given the critical role customer service plays in building strong brand loyalty, marketers are always trying to understand changing customer preferences and the impact on customer engagement channels. Contact centers, for example, are experiencing a substantial digital-first transformation accelerated by the pandemic. Saddletree Research’s 2020 survey of contact center professionals, conducted with the not-for-profit National Association of Call Centers (NACC) asked participants about their customer contact volume in 2020 versus 2019. The study uncovered which channels experienced the most significant increases in these customer contacts.
Not surprisingly, the research revealed that the phone saw the most significant increase in customer contact volume from 2020 through the close of the survey in 2021. However, what is surprising is the study reveals the appearance of third-party messaging on the list of channels with the most significant volume increases in 2021. It occupies the fifth-place spot for 2020 yet didn’t even exist when the 2019 survey was conducted. This is a remarkable performance for what is essentially a relatively new solution.
Saddletree Research Chief Analyst, Paul Stockford, finds that as this channel continues to grow in popularity, Verint has planted its stake in this emerging market segment in a big way with the acquisition of Conversocial.
Conversocial provides advanced software and intelligent automation that delivers conversational customer experiences over digital messaging channels, which means these popular messaging channels are now supported on the Verint Cloud Platform. It also means that Verint has a new channel to apply its conversational AI capabilities to deliver personalized customer experiences and create new and innovative customer communications applications, according to Saddletree Research analysis.
As this new communications channel continues to evolve, brand marketers will be well-positioned to define and implement the next generation of the customer experience through personalized social and messaging channels.
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While many marketing leaders talk about the importance of providing users a unified experience, most still struggle with delivering this in the end-to-end customer journey, a few best practices that can help?
Consumers judge everything through an experience lens which means brands must compete on experience. Unifying your customer experience data across the entire organization enables companies to quickly prioritize and improve the customer experience. But the execution is hard. I believe that marketing leaders must adopt a “boundless” approach to understanding and improving experiences across the entire enterprise so companies can thrive in the engagement economy.
Using powerful digital behavior analytics, marketers can turn customer experience (CX) data into actionable data with heat maps showing where the customer is struggling and enabling marketing leaders to see and make immediate changes to improve the experience, drill down to understand customer feedback, listen to customer interactions for deeper context, and respond to customer feedback in real-time.
In addition, marketers can understand overall trends and benchmark against best-in-class experiences and prioritize strategic actions that will drive maximum positive impact on CX and the bottom line through access to industry and peer leadership insights.
Today, marketing leaders are increasingly being asked to “see” across the entire enterprise to understand and improve CX. Being equipped with the right experience management tools to be more strategic and look at experiences more holistically is essential. With data-driven actionable insights, the opportunity to support boundless customer engagement and improve CX is limitless for marketing leaders.
A few thoughts on the impact of conversational AI and how it will redefine a lot in marketing and sales?
Conversational AI will redefine marketing and sales through customer care and support. It enables organizations to build and grow relationships with each customer, as an individual. The ability to know and communicate with every customer in a predictive, proactive way and anticipate the needed support enables organizations to provide a digital champion that provides meaningful experiences that truly enrich the customer experience not simply make the journey easier.
When you operationalize conversational AI, you’re putting automation to work in meaningful, discreet ways that span across business operations and deliver long-lasting ROI. This means companies are moving beyond AI as an experiment or narrowly focused tool and, instead, integrating it in a way that aligns with business goals.
With the addition of Conversocial to Verint’s already robust digital-first engagement solutions, Verint provides the ability to orchestrate customer journeys with a connected experience across their channels of choice.
Some last thoughts and takeaways before we wrap up?
The pandemic upturned the world of work as we know it overnight. Data from our research shows that 2021 remains a critical rebuilding year and that many organizations are still playing catch-up.
Understanding and empathizing with your customers to deliver a better CX is essential, and I am passionate about it as a marketing leader. Performing this research was critical to developing the emotional intelligence and awareness we as marketing leaders need. Also, it gave us the data required to validate and quantify the issues we were hearing from our customers. This discovery process informed an Engagement Preparedness Index – a multidimensional assessment of business’ preparedness to address the Engagement Capacity Gap. This gap is the chasm between what organizations know they need to do to manage customer engagement and the resources they have to work with.
The ability to help organizations globally adapt to dynamic market shifts and respond to changing customer needs while increasing customer loyalty is a real challenge for today’s marketers. Verint is a pioneer and a leader in this space, and I am so proud to be a part of a company focused on the solution for better connecting with customers. That’s why we call ourselves The Customer Engagement Company.
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