Exactly one year ago today, I published an article previewing a session that was to take place at Enterprise Connect 2020 a few weeks later. While the session never happened in 2020, this year we revived the topic for the Contact Center 2024: The Assimilation of Sales, Service and Marketing session during Enterprise Connect Virtual. As with so many comparisons of 2021 to 2020, the conversation the panelists and I had was infused with references to how the world has changed so dramatically in such a short time.
I was delighted that the three panelists I invited to discuss the topic accepted and were equally interested in exploring the subject. From Cisco, Vinod Muthurkrishnan, chief growth officer, brought the perspective of a traditional contact center vendor as well as his experience as the voice of the customer start-up CEO. His company CloudCherry was acquired by Cisco in 2019 and is now a core component of the new Webex Contact Center. Salesforce, with its Customer 360 platform, already incorporates all of the departments we discussed. Patrick Beyries, VP product management, Salesforce Service Cloud, brought his focused knowledge of the Service Cloud component. Finally, Tido Carriero, chief product development officer, Twilio, was the panel’s “data expert,” having been the CTO of customer data platform company Segment, recently acquired by Twilio.
During the session, I posed a series of questions to the panelists. Let me highlight the responses to one that is especially pertinent to the shift to digital channels we’ve seen both in contact centers and by end users since the pandemic began.
Carriero led off the discussion, saying that companies are beginning to understand how important it is to have a shared view of customer data across these three departments. Given that Segment is known for its customer data platform (CDP), he has a unique view into where the choice to add a CDP is made by a company. “Sometimes it’s a sales leader sometimes it’s more of a services leader sometimes it’s more of a marketing leader, but it really isn’t even like a consistent trend yet,” Carriero said. “I think the industry is still figuring out exactly what to do, but the blur is real, and getting the data in one place is probably the first step to help deal with the blurring,” he concluded.
As the conversation continued, I pointed out that digital channels drive a lot of data that’s easily consumable. But what about generational differences, where you have communities that aren’t as digital, e.g., seniors and others that are less tech-savvy. How can a company bring together marketing, sales, and service in the same way or can they?
“Digitizing the phone channel is something that we’ve (Salesforce) been focused on lately, taking conversational data and bringing it into the CRM context,” responded Beyries. “That allows the system to react to things the customer is saying to assist the agent in real-time. After the conversation, that digitized conversation is now adding to the company’s data repository, adding all the actual conversations to the CDP.”
During his turn, Muthurkrishnan then riffed-off the previous answers, bringing artificial intelligence into the conversational thread. “We (Cisco) believe all channels should be treated in a single holistic manner, he agreed. “But what can AI do on top of that data? Once you know that the customer is on a singular journey and every moment in time could be a sales or marketing or a support event, AI enables you to propose the right thing to the customer at the right time,” Muthurkrishnan continued.
Let me finish here the same way we ended the session. I asked the panelists to take a minute and describe what companies should do today to get ready for 2024. True to his passion, Carriero responded, “Get the data right, set up a central data function and get the data in a clean format.” Muthurkrishnan, picking up on the “one” theme in my questions said, “By 2024 you have to recognize there’s only one customer journey, which means you need one underlying data strategy, one CDP, one approach to engaging a customer.”
Beyries wrapped up the session by bringing us all back to what really matters. “It’s not about “I want to bring the data together or I want to implement AI,” he said. “What is the customer benefit we are driving. We should set our North Star as driving that benefit to the customer,” he added. Then a company can figure out what they need to build.
It’s amazing how little of this rich conversation I have been able to capture here. I encourage you to listen to the replay of the session, available on-demand for those who have registered at the Enterprise Connect website.