TechBytes with Vanessa Thompson, SVP, CX Insights, Bluewolf

Vanessa Thompson

Vanessa Thompson
SVP, CX Insights, Bluewolf

According to the latest Bluewolf report, early adopters of AI technology demonstrate a higher degree of confidence in driving superior customer experiences and having a positive business impact. The report titled, The State of Salesforce found that 77% of companies using AI, are expecting their investments to grow in the next 12 months, showcasing that the best in the business are open to work with Salesforce for better innovation to deliver smarter and faster decision-making using Salesforce’s embedded AI capabilities, across their entire organization. We spoke to Vanessa Thompson, SVP of Customer Experience Insights at Bluewolf, an IBM company, to understand how the Salesforce-IBM partnership would ensure “AI is for Everyone” and how they would enable companies to supercharge their sales funnel using smarter technologies.

MTS: Tell us about your role at Bluewolf and the team that you handle?
Vanessa Thompson: I am the SVP of Customer Experience Insights. My team documents and evangelizes our client’s success throughout their journey with us and also helps them measure that success. I also work directly with clients in our Align practice helping align expectations and business outcomes alongside prioritizing initiatives.

MTS: How does the Salesforce-IBM partnership ensure that “AI is for everyone”?
Vanessa: Together Salesforce and IBM deliver an unrivaled experience for customers. Einstein knows your buyer intimately, who they are, the influence they on your business, and puts their individual needs (or the account they influence) into focus and context. Watson helps you assess large amounts of data for segmentation, profiling, and understanding but Watson can also understand individuals personally, their tone, sentiment, intent.  When you combine these two views of your customer you have an unrivaled profile to act on.

For example, Sally Smith is running a large retail chain – her computer system to run sales just went down.

When she contacts your company, Watson understands from her tone that she is upset and needs service, Einstein understands that Sally also buys $2 Million in products and services from you every year.  Together they ensure Sally bypasses your service team and jumps to the front of a Tier 3 support queue for immediate service.

MTS: What are the major pain-points for businesses that are yet to invest in actionable data analytics technologies?
Vanessa: A major pain point for businesses is having incomplete information about a customer or situation when interacting with them. According to the State of Salesforce Report, only 8% of sales teams are investing in contextual analysis. The literal translation of contextual analysis is an analysis of a set of text that helps assess that text within the context of its historical and cultural setting. We could refer to weather data as contextual data because it adds value to an existing interaction. Think about an insurance company warning customers about an impending hurricane and helping them get prepared. This serves two purposes, it helps the customer feel safer and could contribute to a reduction in claims.

MTS: How should businesses plan their roadmap towards self-service portals across all channels for higher customer retention?
Vanessa: It may not make sense for businesses to have all customers self-serve. Before even getting to a roadmap, the first step would be to align around business outcomes targeted within retention, are you measuring customer satisfaction, support cost, process efficiency, learning/training, etc. Then map customer/partner/employee archetypes to understand the moments of lasting positive or negative impression. Having a deeper empathy for these moments will help identify how to prioritize and solve for self-service. Some of these moments may require a human touch so that can be addressed here. This would be a starting point for the roadmap.

MTS: How do you look at Dark Data Analytics and its impact on customer experience?
Vanessa: When looking at dark data analysis, there is an opportunity cost of not doing anything and quantifying that would be a great way to highlight the opportunity. Meeting customers where they are requires businesses to understand more about where and how a customer wants to interact with you in order to deliver a superior experience. Businesses have this data and as we mentioned earlier, Einstein knows your customers and Watson can help analyze large sets of data (dark data) that can provide additional insights about your customers. It is the combination of these that can solve for the superior experience.

MTS: What would be the Power Couple of the decade— AI+ Automation, or AI+ ABM, or Programmatic + Customer Mapping? Why do you think so?
Vanessa: Over time, Augmented Intelligence will become part of everything we do so I don’t think there is one ‘power couple’. The critical difference between Augmented and Artificial intelligence is that augmented is focused on systems that enhance and scale human expertise (augmented intelligence) rather than those that attempt replicate human intelligence (artificial intelligence).

In the pursuit to deliver superior customer experience, organizations will look to smarter, faster decision-making capabilities in the form of AI. One interesting place we will see AI is in the creative process. Humans use many cognitive strategies when approaching a creative problem. We deliberately create harmony, discord, symmetry, asymmetry, balance, and imbalance through the creative process. The challenge is that it’s not logical, and therefore difficult for machines.

The majority of the creative process is exploration and research so it seems logical for AI to support this. Finding the right options, understanding their values, and doing this in a hierarchical way is fundamental to the creative process. It’s not a replacement for the creative, but it could be an incredible partner for creative problems.

The powerful combination of AI and ideation can create deeper connections with customers, partners, suppliers, and employees, and enable organizations to find new ways to meet and serve the rapidly changing expectations of all users.

MTS: Thanks for chatting with us, Vanessa.
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