Creating An ROI For Human Capital And Organizational Change Projects: Part 2

I was working at a company and asked to do several things. First was to recruit 100 engineers. That may not seem like a lot, but for every 100 people, we interviewed we had 1 person accept. So it took interviewing 1000 people to obtain 100 engineers. Part of that was because we were looking for a specific type of engineer – digital signal processing engineers. The company I worked for had gone through a series of hiring and layoff cycles, so they weren’t completely trusted by the local community as being a stable place to work. Many of those types of engineers had left southern California to go to northern California to pursue work – and for larger salaries and more stable positions.

Examining What Was Important to The Employees Was the Key

We had lost a large number of engineers and some accounts were in trouble. So the need to recruit quickly was key. Normally it could take us 3- 6 months to recruit these type of engineers. I had been given a month. So I stepped up to the challenge. I thought, what would I want to experience to determine if I wanted to work for this company? I would want to hear from the leadership that they were dedicated to doing things differently. I would want to know that there were exciting career options in various categories and I would want to feel, touch and see the advanced technologies I would be getting a chance to work with and enhance my skill set so I would be more marketable in the future, both inside the company as well as if I decided to leave. I would want to get to talk to potential colleagues and potential bosses. I would want to get a sense of the culture and the environment I would be working in. And I’d like to meet people who were seeking the same or similar positions to what I was seeking – who would be these new people on-boarding with me?

The Answer? A Career Day With a Special Invite to Top Candidates

What I proposed was a career day. We took out an ad in the LA Times, inviting the best of the best to apply to our company and upon invitation, they would be invited to come to the career day, hear from our leadership about our company and their future there, be interviewed by direct hiring managers for our 5 major divisions as well as tour booths staffed by some of our top engineers and business folks. In the booths, we demonstrated our “cool” technology – at least that which was not classified as top secret.

To pull this day off, I worked with our graphics department to create amazing ads, colorful booth content, onsite brochures and the personal invites sent to those that had sent in resumes and qualified to participate in the career day.

The Launch of the Career Fair

The day started with a group of engineers who began their career day journey with us by hearing from our top leadership. Then they got to tour 5 divisions, each with several booths where the top technology was being demonstrated. We tried our best to come up with really interesting, real-life demos that potential employees could get to touch and feel the technology = actually experience it. Then they were invited to interview with a hiring manager there on site. The hiring managers were given the ability to hire people on the spot (something we’d never done before.)

The Reaction of the Interviewees Was Fantastic

What was interesting was the feedback we collected on video as the employees left the career day. Most of them, after interviewing wanted to go back and hang-out in the tech booths or listen to more talks from our leadership. They commented that it was the best interviewing process they had ever experienced. What was even more gratifying was that the day not only had a positive effect on the interviews but also on the employees who helped put the day together. I had not seen the employees shine so brightly in a long time. It was clear they had a new found sense of pride in the work they were doing as well as for the company. We even captured their feedback on the video and put a compilation video together. Why the video? To help demonstrate the ROI.

Examining the ROI for the Career Day

The cost to develop the day and put it on was about $1,00,000, including the a portion of the salary of all people who participated in the project for various amounts of time, the graphics, the ads in the LA Times, the billboards off the 405 freeway, the booths, tanks we had onsite as part of the booths, etc… When we looked at the cost of recruiting one engineer in our typical process. HR had calculated that to be about $150,000. To obtain 100 engineers we would have had to interview 1,000 people at a cost of $150,000 and that would be equal to $15M. Most people would have considered those soft costs. But they still cost the company time and money. In this new process of interviewing, it cost about $2M. We were able to interview and hire over 100 engineers. The ROI?

$15M – $2M / $2M x 100 = 650%.

(Benefit of saving the regular cost of interviewing – Cost of the new interviewing process / Cost of the new interviewing process x 100 = ROI %.

What I Found Surprising

It wasn’t just that we were able to recruit so many great people quickly. Another aspect of this process was that we actually interviewed our own employees who staffed the event and created all the content to make it amazing. What they said on camera was they were truly proud of the place they worked. They felt a sense of pride they had not in years. I what I learned was that by engaging our own employees, making them part of the recruiting process in this event, it changed their attitude towards the company and their work. So not only were we able to hire all the engineers we needed, but we had boosted the internal company morale! It was a very exciting day for everyone. Something I will proud of for years to come!

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP, Innovation and Transformation Expeditions, Salesforce

 

 

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Guest Post and Infographic: How AI Changed Customer Service

You can make or break your business’s future by how well, or how poorly, you treat your clients. But you have a lot on your plate, too—even more as you manage the endless technology needs that seem to be developing overnight.


    That’s why artificial intelligence (AI) aspects of customer service are so crucial to how well (or how badly) we do business in the future. You may not even realize how many of these AI elements are already in place in your interaction with companies—and that number is only going to increase.


    Right now, about 2 out of 5 enterprises in the United States are already using AI in some form; that number is going to grow to about 3 out of 5 just this year alone. The human touch still matters, but the bots are already here. What does that mean for you and your business? This graphic explains it.

Infographic source: https://www.salesforce.com/hub/service/how-ai-changed-customer-service/

AUTHOR:

Amanda DiSilvestro gives small business and entrepreneurs SEO advice ranging from keyword research to recovering from Google Algorithm updates and changes. She writes for the nationally recognized SEO Company HigherVisibility that offers online marketing services to a wide range of companies across the country.

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ROI of Human Capital and Organizational Change Management: My Personal Story

I was working for a company that had found themselves in a situation where they had poor morale. Raises were few, partially because of the economy and as a result, people were working very hard and not feeling appreciated. HR came to me to ask what to do. As an early design-thinker, my reaction was always to ask the “customer.” In this case, the “customer” was our own employees. When I interviewed them, I asked them what they wished they had- essentially what was missing? I found that the answers were very surprising. They didn’t feel appreciated. They didn’t feel they were growing and expanding their skills. They didn’t feel like they had a future or that the future looked bright or that they had a hand in creating that future. Or that they even mattered.

The Root Cause of Employee Dissatisfaction

I found that in the appraisal process, once the employee heard they were not getting raise, they shut down. So pretty, much after the first few minutes of the appraisal, they stopped actively participating. So when it got to the part where they were going through their goals for the next year, they had stopped engaging and were only going through the motions.

Because their future goals and engagement to their jobs and their careers was key to being a top company, I came up with the idea of separating the employee appraisal process from the employee development process. And set out to design an employee development process where employees could examine, through goal setting practices, personal-professional goals that would enhance their skill set and make them more valuable to the company, but also have a personal sense of accomplishment and growth.

The Cost of Low Employee Morale?

The cost? With my team, we estimated about $6M for 60,000 employees. I went to the executive leadership meeting and presented my proposal. There was a lukewarm reception, that is… until I got to the cost. At $6M I was laughed at and told to sit down. That was the longest meeting I have ever been in. I couldn’t wait for it to be over. Trying my best to hold back the tears, I just sat there feeling awful.

I went home that night and I did cry. I had interviewed the “customer” figured out what was missing and proposed the solutions. But what I didn’t do is calculate the return on the investment (ROI.) This was very early in my career and this experience taught me the valuable lesson of creating the business value or business case of whatever it was I wanted to propose. The lesson served me well because once I learned to do this, I always got my funding.

Calculating the Cost of Low Employee Morale and Attrition

So you might be wondering how did I calculate the ROI of employee development? Isn’t that a soft skill or a soft benefit? My grandpa had taught me that any time there is value, there is a financial benefit. You just had to find the numbers. So the next day, after a good night’s sleep, I went o HR and asked them, “How much does it take to hire this type of engineer – a digital signal processing engineer?”

They said, combining the recruiting teams time, traveling to various universities, ads in the local papers, radio advertisements, (This was way before social media) reviewing incoming resumes, having the initial screening calls, and then interviewing with a number of the staff and the hiring managers, getting the engineer a secret clearance, etc… the cost was about $150,000 / engineer.

And then I asked the crowning question, “How many engineers did we lose in the last month?” HR said, “200.” And I saw the ROI. If we had lost just 40 people, then $150,000 x 40 would equal the $6M I was asking for. But in the last 3 months we had lost 200, so the cost of attrition just for 3 months was $150,000 x 200 = $30M.

So with the loss of 200 engineers, if I could retain half of them, 100 engineers, then the cost of attrition would only be $15M.

Calculating the Cost of Employee Attrition

The ROI = Benefit – Cost / Cost x 100 = % Return on the Investment

The benefit is the saving of the $15M in attrition costs. The cost is the cost of the program or $6M.

So to calculate the ROI…

Savings of $15M in attrition – Cost of the employee development program of $6M /Cost of the employee development program x 100

So the calculation looks like this:

$15M – $6M / $6M x 100 = 150 % ROI

The Defining Moment

So after pulling my self together and confident with my calculations, I asked for 5 minutes on the agenda. Of course, they were reluctant to give me any time. I got 2 minutes. So I went in with one slide. The slide with the ROI calculation. I said, “We are spending $30M in attrition and if we pay attention to why people are leaving and create a better culture so people feel that they matter, they are learning and growing and feel apart of something bigger than themselves, we can reduce that attrition. So let me walk you through the calculation….” And I did.

To my surprise, instead of sighs of ridiculousness and grumpiness, there was silence. I had hit upon something that no one had thought about. The cost of attrition. While is at first seemed like a “soft” cost, when it was laid out for them in black and white… even if I was off by 50% – we were still wasting the companies money on having people leave because we weren’t paying attention to what was important to them to feel loyal. Why go through all the time and expense to recruit these amazing people, only to push them away and have them go to our competitors, making our competitors smarter and stronger?

How Does This Story End?

Actually very well. I was given the money to develop the employee development program. I was very surprised to get so many emails and people stopping me in the hallways to tell me how much they appreciated what I had done. I didn’t do it for the accolades. I did it because I truly wanted to create an amazing place to work.

The lesson learned? If there is value to something, even if it feels like it is initially a “soft” cost, there is a way to express it in hard dollars in a way that executives can see change is needed. And this was my first experience in organizational change management!

@drnatalie

VP, Salesforce, Innovation and Transformation Expeditions Center

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Facebook’s Artificial Intelligence Has The Ability to Search Photos by Content

The term artificial intelligence was coined 60 year ago. But now its starting to deliver. Lumos’s computer vision platform was initially used to improve the experience for visually impaired members of the Facebook community. Lumos is now powering image content search for all users. What does this means to you? You can now search for images on Facebook with key words that describe the contents of a photo, rather than being limited by tags and captions.

How does this work? It starts with the huge task of computational training. For the object recognition used in Facebook’s image search, the artificial intelligence (AI) system started with a small set of 130,000 public photos shared on Facebook. Using the annotated photos the system could learn which pixel patterns correspond to particular subjects. It then went on to use the tens of millions of photos on Facebook. So what this means is that the caption-reading technology trained a deep neural network though public photos shared on Facebook. The model essentially matches search descriptors to features pulled from photos with some degree of probability. You can now search for photos based on Facebook AI’s assessment of their content, not just based on how humans happened to describe the photos with text when they posted them.

How could this be used? Say you were searching on a dress you really liked in a video. Using the search it could be related back to something on Marketplace or even connect you directly with an ad-partner to improve customer experiences while keeping revenue growth afloat. So it seems it can help both customers, customer experience and companies selling things as well as ad partners.

What else is new? Facebook released the text-to-speech tool last April for visually impaired users so they could use the tools to understand the contents of photos. Then, the system could tell you that a photo involved a stage and lights, but it wasn’t very good at relating actions to objects. But now the Facebook team has improved that painstakingly labeling 130,000 photos pulled from the platform. Facebook trained a computer vision model to identify 12 actions happening in the photos. So for instance, instead of just hearing it was “a stage,” the blind person would hear “people playing instruments” or “people dancing on a stage” or “people walking” or “people riding horses.” This provides contextually relevancy that was before not possible.

You could imagine one day being able to upload a photo of your morning bagel and this technology could identify the nutritional value of that bagel because we were able to detect, segment, and identify what was in the picture.

So it seems the race is on for services not just for image recognition, but speech recognition, machine-driven translation, natural language understanding, and more. What’s your favorite AI vendor?

@Drnatalie, VP, Program Executive, Salesforce ITC

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The Smart Home Race: Who Will Win?

Here are three main smart home contenders:

  • Apple’s HomeKit
  • Amazon’s Echo, Tap and Dot and
  • Google’s Home.

The main issues? Consumer confusion, which adoption follows. There is, unfortunately, technological fragmentation within the connected home ecosystem. Currently, there are many networks, standards, and devices being used to connect the smart home, creating interoperability problems (the ability of a system or a product to work with other systems or products without special effort on the part of the customer) and this makes it confusing for the consumer to set up and control multiple devices.

Until interoperability is solved, consumers will have difficulty choosing smart home devices and systems. So here’s how different companies are approaching the market place. Some make it really easy for the customer, while others require a more technical approach.

Apple’s HomeKit

Tim Cook demonstrated how he uses Apple’s HomeKit in his personal life to give potential or current users some ideas on how they can apply it. During Cook’s quarterly earnings conference call he talked about how he has integrated HomeKit products, and the iOS 10 Home app, into his home routine. There are about 100 HomeKit-compatible products available.

Ways to use Apple’s homeKit? When you wake up and say good morning to Siri, your house lights can be programmed to come on and the coffee machine can be started! Though there don’t seem to be any coffee makers on the market with integrated HomeKit support, it’s likely he may be using  smart plug. There are plenty of HomeKit smart plug options on the market— AppleInsider has reviewed both the Elgato Eve Energy and iHome iPS5 SmartPlug. There are two options For HomeKit lighting: bulbs and switches. Philips Hue is a popular option bulb option. It  comes in a starter pack with three bulbs and a HomeKit-enabled hub for ~$199.99.

As far as switches go, the Lutron Caseta Wireless in-wall dimmer kit is HomeKit compatible. Like Philips Hue, it needs a hub to be connected to a home router for HomeKit support— the hub is included in the ~$190 bundle. Smart plugs are only useful with appliances that automatically turn on and operate when they are connected to an outlet. If the connected device requires any sort of manual input, HomeKit and Siri integration don’t work. Cook also mentioned that when he relaxes in the evening, he asks Siri to adjust the lighting and turn on the fireplace. And upon leaving the house, Cooks says by simply tapping on his iPhone, the lights turn off, the thermostat turns down and the doors lock.

Using HomeKit to turn down the thermostat, a common device is the Ecobee3 second-generation model, ~$250. When it comes to door locks, you could consider the $215 Schlage Sense and $230 Kwikset Premis. These both have numeric keypad entry. The $230 August Smart Lock integrates with many existing door locks and makes for simpler installation. When Cook talks about the simple tap” on his iPhone, in “Apple language” he is creating a “Scene” with the Home app in iOS 10.

What is a “scene?” An example is when Cook says his “Hey Siri, good morning” greeting, it turns on the lights and a smart plug to brew coffee. How does that work? You’d open the Home app in iOS 10, tap the plus button in the top right, and simply choose “Add Scene.” Then you’d create a custom scene name and choose which accessories are powered on or off. For more on this, check out the AppleInsider.

Screen Shot 2017-02-04 at 10.18.48 AM Source: AppleInsider

Amazon’s Echo, Tap and Dot and Amazon Prime Services

Amazon’s Echo offers tiered-speaker in three heights – large, medium and small. Using Alexa, Echo is your personal, cloud-based assistant. Alexa has finely tuned automatic speech recognition (ASR) and natural language understanding (NLU) engines that recognize and respond to voice requests to add intelligent voice control to any connected product that has a microphone and speaker. In addition to Echo, Amazon offers Amazon Tap and Amazon Dot (which has been updated.)

Screen Shot 2017-02-04 at 10.21.00 AM                                     Echo                      Tap                      Dot

Source: Pocket-link

Echo

Why is Amazon considered by some to be at the helm of the smart home arena? Not only is Amazon cleverly locking customers into its wider Prime ecosystem, but Alexa adds additional value. It’s easy to set-up, on average about a minute or so. You just plug Echo it into a wall outlet using the included power adapter, wait for the spinning light ring on top to go from blue to orange and then Alexa will greet you. Amazon Echo is great if you just want to have a stationary speaker that doubles as an always-on personal assistant. It provides room-filling audio that’s good for casual listening. When it’s connected to Wi-Fi, you can ask it all sorts of questions and control your devices.

Echo works with devices such as lights, switches, thermostats, and more from WeMo, Philips Hue, SmartThings, Insteon, Nest, ecobee, and Wink. Here’s where you can learn about how to set-up your smart home devices. Some products that work directly with Alexa and other smart home ecosystems require a compatible hub. If you are still confused, you can book an appointment with an Alexa expert. It’s free and you get:

  • Personalized smart home solution recommendations from a trained Amazon employee 
  • Home WiFi assessment to identify and troubleshoot any issues 
  • In-home demo of popular smart home products 
  • Appointment typically lasts 45 minutes 
  • But installation, troubleshooting, and setup of devices not included.

Tap

Amazon Tap provides a similar sound experience, but uses a charging cradle in order to be portable (there’s no cord.) Because it’s not always plugged into power, always-on Alexa isn’t available though. You have to push a mic button to access the service. Tap is great if you’re going to the beach or are always on the go.

Dot

Amazon Dot is basically the top section of Amazon Echo. Dot supports always-on Alexa, connects to the cloud to stream music, controls your smart home devices, and does all the same stuff as Echo. The main difference between Dot and Echo is that the full-size speaker is gone. Instead, customers would hook Dot up to their own audio setup (via out jack or Bluetooth), so they can use Alexa with their existing speakers. That tiny speaker doesn’t output much audio; it’s only for Alexa voice feedback (which requires Wi-Fi.)

Amazon Prime and Alexa

Amazon’s Echo products are designed to be an access point to the Amazon Prime network. The monetization strategy is not really on the hardware of the Echo devices. Instead it’s really focusing on connecting users directly to the Prime network without having to go through an iPhone or Google search engine. And Alexa is the brain behind Echo. It’s smart because the more you use Echo, the more it adapts to your speech patterns, vocabulary, and personal preferences. And because Echo is always connected, updates are delivered automatically.

What can Alexa do? Alexa has skills. While I’ve given a list, you will find over 4,000 here. Alexa can help you find things on yelp, give you movie showtimes, order a pizza from Domino’s, request a song from Spotify or Pandora, request a ride from Lyft, open your garage with Garageio, provide Samsung SmartThings support, play Jeopardy, update your Google Calendar, read you Audible audiobooks, convert text-to-speech for Kindle eBooks…

Alexa gives you a guide on great things to do in some of your favorite cities like New York, London, Boston, act as a travel guide, be your vacation rental virtual concierge, give you the next arrival for the route and stop you specify in a city like San Francisco, tells you door buster hours and sale hours for Black Friday for major retailers like Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Old Navy, Staples, Bed Bath and Beyond, Costco, Gamestop, Home Depot, Lowe’s…

Alexa gives you interesting relevant health and nutrition information, ask beer snob to look up a specific beer, get information like a price, rating, location, or a short description from a Wine Sommelier, quickly review your task lists, find out what is due, and add tasks, give you an inspiration quote or provide a mediation…

Alexa also gives you based on the weather of the location you request it will recommend what to wear so that you don’t feel too cold or too hot, switch on the lamp before getting out of bed, turn on the fan or space heater while reading in your favorite chair, or dim the lights from the couch to watch a movie and order the right products that work with Alexa.

With the free Alexa App on Fire OS, Android, iOS, and desktop browsers, you can easily set-up and manage your Echo. With the app, you can view shopping and to-do lists while on the go as well as control your timers and set custom tones for your alarms…

Google’s Home

Google Home is a voice-activated speaker powered by the Google Assistant. Ask it questions. Tell it to do things. It’s your own Google, always ready to help. Just start with, “Ok Google.”

The Google Home is centered on targeting users with ads. Google is one of the largest companies in the world to rely on ads as its primary stream of revenue. They garnered $79.4 billion from its AdSense division on its earnings, with the overwhelming majority of the Alphabet parent’s total revenue. While Alphabet bought the device makers Nest and Dropcam, Google Home doesn’t have the built-in user base that Apple has with iPhone.

What does Google Home do? A simple voice request triggers Google Home to play music, podcasts or radio from services like Google Play Music, Spotify, YouTube Music, Pandora and TuneIn. Thanks to Google’s rich history in search, Google Home is ready for your questions. Get real-time answers including the latest on weather, traffic, finance, sports, local businesses – you can enjoy entertainment, manage tasks, plan your day, control your home, get information like nutrition information for ingredients or food or ask about current individual stock prices or current points of an index, like the NASDAQ or ask for scores, live updates, or next game date, location and time for your favorite sports teams.

Their compatible smart home partners include nest, Phillips, IFTTT, WEMO, Honeywell and SmartThings. Streaming devices include: Google Chromecast, VIZIO, TOSHIBA, PHILLIPS, Sony, Bang and Olufsen, BO & Play, Grundig, polk, RUAMFELD. You can watch videos and photos on youtube, NETFLIX, and Google Photos.

If you want to learn more about how to use Google Home, click here. Essentially there are three main steps:

  1. Plug power cable into your Google Home device
  2. Plug the cable into a wall socket
  3. Download and run the Google Home app on a phone or tablet.

The newly-designed Google Home app is your one-stop destination to discover all of Google Home’s content and features. DayDream is Google’s VR headset and controller that lets you explore new worlds, kick back in your personal VR cinema, and play games that put you at the center of action. When your phone’s screen becomes your big screen, you can get fully immersed in your favorite shows, movies, VR videos…

It will be interesting to see who wins in the smart home race! What’s your choice? And why?

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP, Program Executive, Salesforce ITC

 

 

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Constellation ShortList™ Customer Service and Contact Center Software

Constellation Research is launching a new program, and I’m happy to share that the vendors that have been listed on the Constellation ShortList™ for Customer Service and Contact Center Software. The program offers buyers of technology a list of offerings to consider in their pursuit of digital transformation to provide the best capabilities to drive leading customer service.

The Constellation ShortList presents vendors in different categories of the market relevant to early adopters. In addition, products included in this document meet the threshold criteria for this category as determined by Constellation Research. This Constellation ShortList of vendors for a market category is compiled through conversations with early adopter clients, independent analysis, and briefings with vendors and partners.

Customer service and contact center software helps solve customer challenges faster by offering the right tools and support, regardless of channel or device (e.g., phone, tablet, email, chat, text, website, Facebook, other social networks). These offerings can effectively manage inbound communication for increased first-contact resolution, in addition to providing co-browse capabilities to allow visual communication for quicker query resolution. Additionally, they can support the reduction of cart abandonment and increase customer satisfaction with in-cart assistance. This type of software provides personalized care through the use of analytics, offering insight into customers’ behaviors for relevant, contextualized service that can predict future needs. Companies can identify new opportunities by integrating these customer insights into their companies’ innovation processes.

The software also creates seamless, online experiences with a knowledge base that learns from every interaction, enabling them to match content to consumer intent, which results in higher conversion rates. The top solutions also provide smart customer self-service, allowing customers to help themselves by fostering peer-to-peer support communities and eliminating the need to reach out to the contact center.

Constellation considers the following key criteria for these solutions: Self-service capabilities, case management, natural language processing for knowledge management and search, omni-channel and device customer journeys, mobile customer service and self service, queuing and routing, workforce optimization, predictive and prescriptive rules and advice, next-best action, natural scripting, customer feedback collection capabilities, IVR, visual IVR, inventory optimization, mobile enablement, social and digital engagement simplified user design (UX/UI), reporting and customer analytics, integration to IoT (Internet of Things) platforms and devices, data dashboard and data visualization.

Each Constellation ShortList evaluation will be updated every 90 days as needed. Constellation clients may work with the analyst and research team to conduct a more thorough discussion of this ShortList. Constellation can also provide guidance in vendor selection and contract negotiation.

The ShortList is determined by client inquiries, partner conversations, customer references, vendor selection projects, market share and internal research. The Shortlist includes:

  • Aspect
  • Avaya
  • Cisco
  • Genesys
  • inContact
  • Interactive Intelligence
  • Oracle
  • Salesforce
  • Verint.

For more information about the ShortList, please visit the Constellation Research site.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research, Covering Customer Facing Applications.

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One Big Step for Commerce, One Giant Step for Salesforce

Salesforce’s $2.8 billion acquisition of Demandware will serve as the company’s Commerce Cloud. Demandware and Salesforce have a series of joint customers. This acquisition will enable more e-commerce for Salesforce along with Salesforce’s customer relationship management tools. CEO’a are realizing the value of platforms vs. point solutions and the trend is going towards the vendors creating more holistic platforms that offer a continuous marketing, sales, service process. In truth, only companies separate those aspects of their companies into different departments. But customers don’t see a company as separate departments. So the departments really need to act as a whole and software as a platform can be the key to that.

The acquisition will grow the sales “funnel” for Salesforce. There is the possibility to expand the relationship with existing customers. So it gives Salesforce a new group of customers to upsell for the other services that it already offered, from marketing and online analytics through to back-office software for sales and other IT functions. Who is Demandware working with now? Some customers include Design Within Reach, Lands’ End, L’Oreal and Marks & Spencer.

With more and more people buying on their phone and online, commerce and e-commerce is more and more important. This is a smart move by Salesforce.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

Covering customer-facing applications that make great customer experiences

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From the Field: Salesforce Unveils Marketing Cloud Lightening

Customer Service is the New Marketing. As the lines between sales, service and marketing continue to blur, marketers are taking a leadership role in delivering a unified customer experience. Salesforce conducted a recent survey report, reporting that the majority of high-performing marketing teams (58 percent) are driving customer experience initiatives across the business, compared to 8 percent of under-performers. But to do this, whether marketing, sales or customer service leads the process, the brands need to not only to crush the silos between those departments but also have a new platform that enables them to deliver a consistent brand experience across every touch point, regardless of channel or device.

Channel Ubiquity: At Constellation, we have coined a term called channel ubiquity – meaning using any channel, any device any time, any place, any where… that’s what the customer expects and brand’s must deliver or be left behind. Why is customer service is the new marketing? Because customers don’t view a brand from each department, they view the overall experience they have with the brand. And where the experience usually misses the mark is customer service. Companies spend millions or billions of dollars in customer acquisition and then don’t follow through with great customer service and rather provide bad service that only leading customers to their competitors. So those customers are automatically taken out of the marketing funnel, even if the company doesn’t realize it.

What’s Special About the Lightening Announcement? The Marketing Cloud Lightning Platform vision is to bring the power of Lightning to digital marketers so they can create more intelligent and personalized customer experiences. What are the possible benefits?

  • A consistent user experience across s customer success platform
  • Lightning components to extend and build new apps
  • Leverage data science to analyze information from the web and data throughout marketing, sales and service to predict customer behavior
  • Build and automate journeys for the entire customer experience.

Delivering on Channel Ubiquity: Whoever is in charge of offering the ubiquitous customer experience, brands need to be able to offer a modern and intelligent user experience across any device, enabling marketers to work faster and smarter, and deliver better results. With a platform that has common customer identity and navigation, brands could work seamlessly across the entire customer experience platform or hub to streamline processes that span marketing, sales, service or back office departments to enable more comprehensive, integrated customer journeys. This is the promise of the Marketing Cloud Lightning Platform.

Easily Building Apps: Another promise for Marketing Cloud Lightning includes new Lightning Components or the idea of reusable, drag-and-drop building blocks to easily assemble apps. This would enable companies to develop and customize new business apps for sales, customer service and marketing. Salesforce will deliver Lightning Components ranging from core email functionality, like previewing emails and tracking email open rates, to journey capabilities. This also includes options like automatically adding a lead or contact to a journey and reviewing the journey history of a specific lead or contact. In addition, customers will be able to use third-party components built by Salesforce partners and available from the Salesforce AppExchange.

The Power Lies With the Budget: Often because the CMO, of all the lines of business, is controlling a lot of a brand’s budget for new software, targeting the CMO is a great idea. However, because the place where customer experience generally falls through the cracks is customer service, I’d like to challenge customer service professionals to stand-up and demand that they also control and equal or larger portion of this type of budget.

It would be a major transformation of that role, but it is necessary to drive better customer service and overall customer experiences. Without this transformation, the front end- marketing and sales customer experience can be great, but unless marketing really understands what is happening in customer service and the challenges the contact centers face, the customer experience has the potential to fall apart there. I caution brands that do not heed this vision to not be surprised if they loose their market base. In my humble opinion, customer service is the key differentiator in the overall customer experience. And it’s time for it to change. NOW.

@drnatalie petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

Covering Customer Facing Application that Deliver Awesome Customer Experiences Across Marketing, Sales and Customer Service.

 

 

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Salesforce Announces Salesforce for Messenger Platform

What’s The News? Salesforce announced Salesforce for Messenger Platform which will empower companies to create entirely new sales, service, marketing and app experiences for customers on Messenger. Salesforce for Messenger will enable companies to leverage existing business processes to make customer journeys even more relevant and personalized than ever before. This is the latest innovation in Salesforce’s ongoing strategic partnership with Facebook.

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Together, the companies are empowering companies to engage their customers through dynamic experiences around products, brands and moments—all connected to their business. Powered by Salesforce Lightning, this is a proven platform for more than 150,000 companies and millions of users, in which Salesforce for Messenger will deliver personalized engagement at scale with CRM data.

What’s Happening With Messenger Facebook: Messenger’s growth is skyrocketing with its monthly active users growing from 500 million in 2014 to 900 million today. Often Marketing “owns” the Facebook page and had not worked out what to do with Customer Service issues. Nothing worse than getting a #fail in the middle of marketing campaign. For those companies that do have good relationships between Customer Service and Marketing, this will only help them to do an even better job of serving customers. For companies that don’t have this relationship worked out, the connection with Facebook Messenger may be the missing piece they need to connect the dots between Customer Service and Marketing.

And this is perhaps why so many companies are so eager to embrace it as the new channel to extend customer engagement and create conversations. Salesforce extends its leadership in CRM with the launch of Salesforce for Messenger. Companies will be able to leverage Messenger as a customer engagement channel to deliver entirely new 1-to-1 experiences across sales, service, marketing and apps.

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Adding Facebook Messenger to the Checkout Flow in eCommerce: And because it is connected to the world’s #1 CRM platform, each Messenger interaction can be specifically tailored based on the context of the entire customer relationship. For example, a retailer will be able to embed a Messenger plugin on the checkout workflow on its website so a customer can ask any final questions before making a purchase.

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Since this Messenger exchange is also connected to the customer’s previous sales, service and marketing account records, the company can take a more personal approach to exceeding customer expectations. Companies will have an invaluable opportunity to use Messenger as a channel to build brand loyalty and deepen customer relationships by delivering seamless experiences across marketing, sales and service with Salesforce.

Comments from Salesforce Executive, Alex Dayon, President and Chief Product Officer, Salesforce: “Now with Messenger, Facebook is inviting companies to engage their customers in new ways on its platform at scale. With Salesforce for Messenger companies will be able to easily connect their businesses to Messenger, creating deeper, more personalized and 1-to-1 ​customer journeys within the chat experience.”

Salesforce has been on a continuous journey to completely re-imagine CRM for the digital era and the launch of Salesforce for Messenger is the latest example of how it is expanding the market. With Salesforce, companies can ensure that every interaction with a customer is an opportunity to create a memorable experience. In a world where the customer wants to get personalized, seamless care, this is an interesting step in the right direction.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, Constellation Research

Covering Customer Service and Customer Experience

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Capgemini Expands Its Digital Growth Strategy With The Acquisition of oinio, a Leading European Salesforce Partner

Capgemini and onio: Capgemini announced the acquisition of oinio, one of Europe’s leading Salesforce partners. This acquisition will expand Capgemini’s Digital Strategy Group growth by augmenting Capgemini’s capabilities in providing digital transformation services around the Salesforce solutions and platform across Europe and Asia. Oinio, based in Munich, has become one of the major European players in the consulting and deployment of Salesforce cloud-based CRM and digital marketing solutions. Oonia has more than 600 projects for a portfolio of international clients in life sciences, manufacturing, financial services, high tech and utilities.

Statements from the Executives on The Acquisition: Maic Stohr, CEO of oinio commented, “As part of Capgemini, a global leader in digital business transformation, we’ll be able to offer Salesforce based agile innovation to enterprise customers at scale, to drive quicker business outcomes. It’s a commitment to our customers, our team and to the digital era.”

Dennis Flüchter, COO and CFO of oinio, said, “Joining Capgemini with its worldwide reach is an opportunity to accelerate our growth in Germany and on a global basis too. We’re proud to become part of the Capgemini family.”

And Jean Lassignardie, Corporate Vice President and Group Head of Salesforce Expert and Transformation Services at Capgemini stated, “The recognized expertise of oinio will allow us to reinforce our position in the European and Asian markets, while strengthening our partnership with Salesforce globally. Together, we will be able to quickly deploy the most innovative solutions to support our customers in their business transformation and growth acceleration.”

What Does This Mean? What I find interesting about this acquisition is the pace at which the foreign markets are understanding the value of digital transformation. This type of acquisition clearly shows that both Capgemini and oinio are seeing the desire and need for consulting services in the digital transformation area. System integrators of yesteryear were known for implementing large, on-premise solutions, taking years to implement, many of which were given up on.

Today, system integrators have had to reinvent themselves as the advent of SaaS / cloud solutions replacing the on-premise projects. But smart systems integrators have become trusted advisors in the role of aiding digital transformation. Because there is so much about a business that has to be transformed, in reality there is a huge market for systems integrators that realize that the transition from the old way of doing business, to truly being digital requires a transformation of people, process, leadership and technology. And there is no shortage of actual work that has to get done to make that all happen.

The future? Look to see which systems integrators are understanding what digital transformation means and who is leading companies to transform their culture, the mindset, their leadership, their workforce, their processes (how work gets done and how customers are interacted with and engaged) and what technologies are chosen to make this a reality in the short term. The longer companies wait to take on this type of endeavor, the more danger they put themselves in becoming extinct, i.e., irrelevant to their customers and unfortunately, for some really great brands, the certainty of going out of business.

@DrNatalie VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

Covering Customer-facing Marketing, Sales and Customer Service Strategies and Technologies and System Integrators

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