“Today we're celebrating Trailblazers, who are reshaping their industries, their companies and themselves” – Derek Laney opened Connections to You in Sydney last week by recognising the B2C service and marketing superstars who are truly changing the way we connect with our customers and gain their loyalty.
“Business is the greatest platform for change,” he said. “But who is making this change? It's you; it's the Trailblazers.”
Joining Laney onstage, former CTO and CIO, now Salesforce MVP and consultant Eliot Harper shared his insights about what makes a Trailblazer: “It’s about making a difference and about learning from others,” Harper said. “Nobody ever made a difference by doing things the same way.”
And so, a packed house at the ICC settled in to learn from the best.
“Marriott believes that if they emplower the guests with the right tools, the guests will keep coming back,” said Rainbow Cheung, Head Of Social – Asia and India at Salesforce.
Cheung was well placed to talk about how Marriott is making service smarter with every interaction, having stayed in a Marriott property recently.
We’ve spoken before about Marriott’s forward-thinking digital CX – allowing customers absolutely seamless experiences from check-in and activities booking through to food orders and pillow preferences.
What we haven’t talked about is just how smart Marriott’s service back-end is. While the Marriott app contained all details of Cheung’s travel, including restaurant bookings and flights, Alexa in her room allowed her to control her room temperature, book a car, play music, and even find out about activities she could sign up for during an upcoming trip to Maui.
As a customer, this is excellent CX. But – and this is the ‘beyond smart’ bit: every time Cheung used Alexa, Einstein’s natural language processing behind the scenes also updated her Marriott record and preferences.
Cheung played a Bruno Mars, and a Bruno Mars concert was added to her activity suggestions for that upcoming Maui trip. When deep knowledge of customers is paramount to excellent CX, Marriott is using every tool in the box to gather, analyse and use that knowledge.
On the marketing side, there was a lot to learn, and so much to discuss.
“In the past 50 to 100 years, the things we’re trying to achieve as marketers haven't changed,” Kev Doyle explained. “But the challenges to how we achieve them have.”
It’s vital to know your customer – and that means using the data they have given you to tailor every interaction to their preferences, to personalise with intelligence and to engage them across their entire journey.
It’s also vital to know if we’re successful – a measurement layer needs to sit below all of this, with AI-powered insights marketers can use to take action and optimise.
For high-volume retail marketers, using data for optimisation is an every moment of the day affair – or it should be. For Domain Group’s Tony Blamey and Emily Murren meanwhile, the picture is not so different, despite Australians transacting property every nine years on average.
“Australians love property,” said Blamey. “While they only transact every nine years, we keep them engaged [between those transactions] with renovation and valuation content.”
And while Domain is keeping its consumer audience of 6 million engaged to funnel it into loan comparison portals, insurance providers, utilities connections and more, it’s as concerned with deep knowledge as with mass reach.
“We are a hugely metrics-driven business – right from granular campaigns to the mass level. Unsubscribes to us aren't necessarily a bad thing,” Murren explained. “What we want to know is where [our consumer is] on their journey right now.”
A panel discussion between PWC Chief Creative Officer and Gruen Transfer regular Russel Howcroft, SVP Salesforce APAC Lee Hawksley, Google Marketing Platform Lead Meg Thomas and MD of Merkle ANZ Ted Stiles, and hosted by AVP Salesforce APAC Jo Gaines, discussed loyalty – and the difficulty of gaining it from a marketing-saturated and connected consumer.
“The consumer’s always been empowered – the ultimate manifestation of that is their ability to either reward you or not with the sale,” Hawksley said. “The challenge now is to meet a consumer who’s empowered in a more powerful, faster, connected way. People want whole of brand experiences now.”
The answer, according to this panel of industry luminaries, is marrying the knowledge provided by data with the insights gained when humans collaborate effectively, and marketing to people right along their journeys.
“If people are sitting in siloes and can’t see [the consumer’s] whole journey, they're never going to provide excellent CX,” Thomas explained.
Stiles, meanwhile, advocated true people-based marketing, drawing a sharp distinction between this and reacting based on behaviour.
“If an email marketer is sending out an email based on response rates, that’s a behaviour, that’s not people,” Stiles said. “It’s a matter of putting data sets together and listening to them in real time. What is the person looking for at that moment: to purchase? For advice? How can we capture them so they don’t just take up floor space – so they don’t come to us to browse but go back to Amazon to purchase?”
On those data sets though, Thomas points out that they need to be pretty strong to be able to respond in real time
Of course, Connections to You Sydney was a massive day – far to big to contain here. We’ll be sharing more of the insights, expert advice and more from the day over the coming weeks.
For more insights on your connected, empowered customers – and how to reach them – download the State of the Connected Customer report.