I was chartering unknown territory when I set foot in the venue for Salesforce World Tour 2019 in New York City.
The tour — which voyages multiple cities across the US and the globe — is the flagship event from Salesforce, covering everything from the multitude of Salesforce products, their integrations, and of course, user and customer experience (CX).
The event was branded as “a day of innovation and inspiration” on its website, and upon entry to the vast expanse that is the Javits Center, I was able to sense these ideas in the ambiance.
Let me set the scene: the ground in the reception and main halls was coated in green carpet, with large sculptures of the characters found in Salesforce products, particularly those of its Trailhead characters, decking the convention. They too were surrounded by greenery: shrubs, trees and fireplaces kept them snug.
Modern-day carollers were warbling Christmas tunes with a dose of beatboxing. Further along in the Trailhead-themed area, a wide array of brands set up shop to tout their latest products and innovations. Makeshift theaters (with no enclosures) were set up for some of the sessions; much in line with the Trailhead world, the seats here were little tree trunks.
Further down, the sessions were a bit more sophisticated, with larger volumes, larger screens and headphones provided for all attendees. I was excited to have a listen and imbue as much CX knowledge as possible.
Here are some of the key learnings I acquired:
One of the first sessions I attended stressed that the best shopping experiences are personal. This means taking the catered in-store (or bank, etc.) experiences into the digital world. As such, websites and UX take the role of digital salespeople. Like a real sales associate, they must act as someone who helps customers find the products they want.
This, in turn, creates increased engagement with your brand, which encourages loyalty. A personalized CX is a kind of 1:1 experience customers have with brands, but since there are no sales associates online, digital players must employ conversational commerce into their strategy.
Conversational commerce refers to an e-commerce method that employs various means of inciting conversations. This includes using chatbots on sites and apps, artificial intelligence (AI) and the newer advent of voice technology which includes speech recognition.
Salesforce relayed the importance of using VIP chatbots, which ask site visitors what they’re looking for upfront and in a casual way. These bots can then help set up customers with a real associate, who gives recommendations based on the info shoppers gave to the bot, removing an annoying layer of repetition with the associate.
This closes a loop and shows that you’re paying attention to customer needs. It also helps personalize the shopping process by digitizing its best assets. The key is to make these chatbots mimic human conversations as closely as possible.
Brands can leverage chatbots and other conversational commerce techniques (messaging apps, Siri, etc) as a means of helping customers solve hurdles, particularly those that they can take offline and implement it into the digital space.
All in all, conversational commerce has the prowess to streamline the shopping process to make it more scalable. It enables you to put your customers at the center of your business.
Naturally, one of the lessons from the World Tour came from one of Salesforce’s own and relatively new innovations: interactive emails.
Implemented into the Einstein marketing cloud, along with other email capabilities this fall, interactive emails allow customers to provide their feedback in their own inboxes, as opposed to clicking on a link and being sent to a website or app.
This form of email extends the personalization factor that emails already can provide, so brands ought to tap into this trend. It also enhances email UX, as it augments emails with a web-like function.
Essentially, it’s a new form of VoC, providing customers with the convenient option of staying within the comfort and privacy of their own email.
Brands can capitalize on interactive emails by attaching a survey or poll at the end of their message to collect vital customer opinions and attitudes. These can be towards a number of digital or customer experiences. Alternatively, brands can dedicate entire emails for this purpose.
For example, a fruitful interactive email strategy is to simply add an open text box so that a customer can type in any concern, effectuating a service case to be created — all without the need to create a new email or search for an answer elsewhere on the net.
Interactive emails provide a great brand experience and can be used across industries.
Brands are competing on experiences — whether they know it or not. As Parker Harris, the Salesforce Co-founder and EVP remarked in the keynote session, “customers may love your products and services, but do they trust you? if not, they will move on to someone else.”
This rings true even for niche brands and those in more “serious” sectors, ie, B2B and other non-retail fields. Consider this scenario: there are two banking services that offer the same kind of accounts, with limited restrictions and fees. However, one offers a customer-centric UX in which customer service and website sessions are quick and hassle-free.
Clearly, customers will gravitate towards the bank with the better experience. Given that the financial services vertical is known as being less tailored for experiences, competing on experience may seem like a forbidding challenge.
However, even basic financial tasks like checking a debit card charge and disputing it can be leveraged and turned into a personalized, well-serviced experience. To achieve this, the UX should be made frictionless and require the least amount of steps to do something, ie report a fraudulent card charge.
For example, if customers report a fraudulent charge via a chatbot or by phone, they’ll often get redirected to another representative or department most suited to handle their case. A common UX source of annoyance is being asked a second (or third time) to repeat an issue already reported. Thus, when rerouting customers, or getting back to them after a break, associates should be fully aware of their issue to tackle it head-on, instead of wasting time asking for specifics.
No one wants to waste time, so if your customer services are optimized for speed and their issues/preferences recorded, your customers will notice. Dovetailing to this idea is the general approach chatbots take in conversing with customers: the chat shouldn’t start with “how can I help you?” but rather by asking something more concrete, showing that you understand your customers.
This can be gathered from their previous purchases or VoC feedback or even past chats if it’s a returning or logged in customer.
Although it lasted for roughly a workday, Salesforce World Tour 2019 has fired up my neurons. The main takeaway from this convention is that digital experiences need to require minimal effort from users to either complete an action or traverse your site in general.
Aside from seamlessness, the event accentuated the need for personalizing and customizing experiences. The reasoning for this is that if you don’t, you will lose quality customers. The impact you as a business should aim to create is that of making your customers feel understood and listened to.
Per the recommendation of Parker Harris et al. in the event, you should also incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) into your digital strategy, whether it’s through live support, standard chat boxes, or even in your customer data collection.
When you do, you can bet on their return to your site — and not just for browsing purposes.
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