Salesforce Dreamforce is one of the biggest software conferences in the world. In the run-up to this event, we unveil our special TechByte series featuring high-profile Dreamforce attendees and MarTech Champions. We spoke to Dennis Fois, President, NewVoiceMedia, to know his thoughts about the event.
MTS: Tell us about what excites you at Dreamforce? What are your expectations from the event and how do you intend to share your experiences with your colleagues and community members?
Dennis Fois: We have been going to Dreamforce for about five years now, as Salesforce is a very large part of our go-to-market and our trusted CRM partner.
This year, in particular, we’re really excited for Dreamforce because of the scale. It’s even bigger this year than it has been before, which is quite remarkable to see, and a lot of our customers are going. It used to be very much about prospecting, but this year it’s really an opportunity for us to interact with our existing customers, which is incredible. We have high expectations because we tend to generate a lot of business at Dreamforce. It’s important for our general sales team and from a marketing perspective. It’s also a good opportunity to establish ourselves as a growing brand in the US market. We’re focusing very strongly on the US market, and Dreamforce is a really good opportunity to showcase our point of view better, which we’ll be doing quite a lot of this year. I’ll be sharing our perspectives and key takeaways from Dreamforce in a series of blogs for our customers and community.
MTS: How should businesses make their CX more readily adaptable to human conversations?
Dennis: This is my passion. What’s particularly interesting this year is that Salesforce themselves and Dreamforce are very focused on customer experience. They’re positioning themselves as the customer engagement platform. It’s really about enabling the success of their customers and their customers’ customers. So that creates a good backdrop for us to add our message to it.
We feel that most business are still focusing on the scaling benefits of customer experience. They’re grappling with the idea of how to create a good experience for customers, but also how to make it cost effective. They tend to get stuck on the efficiency and effectiveness part of the customer equation. But what we as an industry are not making a lot of progress on is the emotive side of customer experience.
If you think about it in simple terms, we’re dealing with people. You and I are both consumers, so we can both relate to how an experience makes us feel. This year, and going forward, if businesses want to compete in customer experience, they really need to do more than handle efficiency and effectiveness. For instance, whether customers can achieve their goal and how easy it is for them really only make up half the customer experience equation. How the experience makes customers feel, and whether that is consistent, it’s going to become more and more part of competing in customer experience.
In fact, you could argue, without making the customer experience more human, you’re not going to be able to successfully compete. This is where I think it gets interesting, and this is also one of the reasons we at NewVoiceMedia talk about useful innovation. You’re going to see a lot of innovation at Dreamforce. The question, of course, is, how useful that innovation is if it doesn’t help me get closer to a human conversation? We ultimately feel that when it comes down to establishing an emotive connection with people, we have to have people doing that with people. It’s not going to be possible, now or in the near future, to use AI or bots or anything that’s been programmed. That stuff really helps us with the first part of the equation. It helps us scale the conversation and figure out which things can be frictionless with customers. But I think what we now need to figure out together is how we have more conversations with people. The way to do that is to think about conversations being valuable. Looking at our industry, with contact centers, where it’s inbound or outbound, we often have a cost associated with a conversation. “This conversation cost us $2.93,” for example. But if instead, if we were to say, “That conversation actually generated $15 because that customer had a good experience, and they are more likely to buy, or more likely to recommend or more likely to come back when they have another question,” we’re giving that conversation more value.
The way to make the customer experience more adaptable to human conversation is to think about the total equation of customer experience, and try to get the human conversation modeled into the customer journey, not just as a failure demand.
MTS: What’s the next frontier for customer intelligence platforms in connecting to prospects with better interactions?
Dennis: There is a lot of information captured during the conversations people are having with people in sales and service, and we are starting to tap into those conversations.
For instance, if you look at voice, it was, not so long ago, an untapped potential of information, and it was difficult to get access to all that information. You’d either have to listen in on the calls, or you’d have to transcribe only a part of those conversations. We’re really excited about the launch of our Conversation Analyzer, which allows our customers to effectively “listen” to all conversations and transcribe those, but the interesting part comes from capturing that intelligence and bringing it back into the CRM system and blending it with other information. So you’re augmenting all the conversation information with all other data.
For instance, say I’m looking at how many sales have closed last month. With Conversation Analyzer, I could very quickly see how many of those sales haven’t been compliant with the script I want my sales agents to follow. I know, immediately, if I have a number of non-compliant sales conversations, that I probably already have churn identified, so I should probably spend some time with my team analyzing those conversations. In the old days, I would have to sample-size the last month’s conversations, maybe listen to 1 or 2 percent. Now, I can skip that part and hone in on conversations that haven’t been compliant because the system has just analyzed whether the right conversation has taken place.
That’s one part of customer intelligence, which is the quality of that conversation, and we’re analyzing that after, so it’s post-processing. But the second part of it is real-time processing of information, in the moment. You’ll see more and more that systems are able to, in real-time, advise sales and service agents about how they should handle a call based on what is being said at the moment. For instance, if a customer mentions a competitor on a call, the system could pick that up and look up a battle card that can tell the sales agent what to say. Those are key trends in the customer intelligence platform area.
Also Read: What To Expect From Dreamforce 2017
MTS: What are the combined benefits of Contact Accelerator and Conversation Analyzer in managing sales challenges more effectively?
Dennis: If you think about that formula for great customer experience, it’s the combination of the customer achieving their goal, doing it frictionless, and how the experience makes them feel. Contact Accelerator is really focused on following the best practices in your outbound sales processes, and Conversation Analyzer helps you zoom in on the conversations. So, with the combination of the two, not only are you able to make sure reps are following best practices, but you can also make sure they have the blueprint for the best conversation.
MTS: Tell us about the impact of GDPR on the way B2B companies plan to manage data for CX and intelligence?
Dennis: You’d have to live on a different planet not to have heard about GDPR, and it’s more than buzz, to be honest. We’re now in November, and in May, this comes into force. This will impact any business who wants to do business in Europe. Having moved to the US three weeks ago, I’m shocked that the level of understanding is still quite low about the profound impact GDPR is going to have.
This has to be largest data shakeup that the European market has seen since the European Data Protection Act. So for B2B companies managing customer experience or even marketing, this is very profound because it goes beyond asking customers for permission. It is asking for permission on an event basis. So if I wanted to run an NPS campaign to understand what NPS is for a specific group of customers, I would have to ask for a specific opt-in for that.
People really need to start thinking about this because it could actually mean that we could have a period of having less information about how our customers are perceiving customer experience. We’ll have to specifically ask them if it’s ok for us to ask them how our services performed. It’s been, in some cases, assumed that if you’re a customer and you’ve had a transaction, we were OK to ask how you felt about the transaction, and that’s all about to change.
So for any US company doing business in EMEA, whether they’re marketing or serving their customers or both, this is a really serious consideration. That’s the reason why we at NewVoiceMedia are spending so much time on it. We’ve issued a statement on our website, we’re also working with our customers to make sure the way they set up their processes is compliant with the GDPR directives because the repercussions of getting this wrong are very serious.
MTS: What marketing technologies are you specifically looking to explore at Dreamforce?
Dennis: I’m a bit of a marketing geek, so I’ve got a long list of things I want to see. I’m particularly interested in sophisticated nurturing technologies – technologies that create a more natural nurturing effect in the pipeline. That’s one big area that I want to explore, and the other big area involves the way the lines between sales and marketing are blurring, particularly in the SaaS B2B space. There’s an expectation of marketing that more qualified opportunities will be brought to sales. It used to be that sales generated a lot of pipeline through outbound prospecting activities, but now we see more inbound marketing. I’m interested to see which technologies are being developed as this process is evolving that will help organizations like ours to construct strong operational marketing teams that can support the increased quality requirements placed on marketing in this day and age.
MTS: Thanks for chatting with us, Dennis.
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