On day one of Salesforce Connections, we posed a question to a group of about 30 brands spanning consumer packaged goods, financial services, ultra-luxury, apparel, accessories and more: “Who feels that they are doing customer service well?”

Not a single hand was raised.

Customer service is, of course, an absolutely crucial component in the relationship between brands and their customers, one that impacts loyalty, reputation, and sales. But getting it right has proven vexing for many brands.

One of the reasons that customer service is so challenging is there are so many points of disconnectedness in the customer journey. Just two examples: Customer service is often unaware of a customer’s purchase history, and marketing is similarly in the dark when sending promotions.

One attendee told a story of having his credit card information breached, only to have that same company hit him up via email to refer friends just two weeks later.

“I had just had my credit information stolen,” he said. “It was not the right time to ask me to make a referral!”

Throughout Connections, brands heard about Salesforce technologies that connect the touchpoints in the customer journey, not only to help them not only avoid such blunders, but also to become a more customer-focused company, and in turn a more successful company.

Here are some of the ways that our customers, and Salesforce, are connecting the dots of the customer journey:

  • The Commerce Cloud and Service Cloud connector, which shares data across service and commerce including user registration and order visibility in Service Cloud (even for shoppers signed in as guests). This eliminates the need to maintain two separate profiles.

  • Automatically funneling social media ‘listening’ in Social Studio to Service Cloud, so agents can  proactively respond to customer service inquiries quickly.

  • Live Nation, the huge events promoter, wowed the crowd with how it combined marketing and advertising (Advertising Studio) to drive ROI. It leveraged its CRM data to mine its 77 million-strong database of music-loving fans to pitch the right events to the right people, at the right time, at scale. “We leveraged Ad Studio to retarget fans based on their response to email campaigns,” says Matt Annerino, EVP of Marketing and Analytics.  “We grew qualified traffic and ticket sales at a more efficient return on ad spend.”

  • Watchmaker Shinola inspired the crowd with how they unify online and offline shopping experiences, and leverage data in the store. “The biggest trend in retail is the term ‘experience,’ but the thing the most retailers are missing is defining what the experience is,” says Heath Carr, CIO of Bedrock Manufacturing, parent company of Shinola. “It’s not about giving you a free cup of coffee. Customers want us to know who they are, and what they’re looking for. They want us to know more than they know.”

  • Rack Room Shoes, with over 500 locations and a robust online business, used Marketing Cloud to drive an incredible 777% ROI. How? It consolidated its data into one source of truth (vs several versions, which are likely incomplete or incorrect) sending focusing on automation and removing manual processes to allow for scale. “It’s impossible to do any type of behavior-based marketing if your data is not intact,” said Kandice Carlson, Senior Product Marketing Manager of Marketing Cloud.

Attendees will hear much more about how Salesforce connects the dots along the customer journey throughout the week.

There’s no question that data is the secret sauce to delivering personalized, relevant, satisfying, engaging customer experiences. The question is whether brands can leverage that data into insights that improve relationships.

One attendee summed it up: “Years ago data was the problem. Now, we have the data but we can’t execute on it well. It’s hard to craft the right content for the right customer. We have the data to be more relevant but it’s hard to put that data to work across all channels and countries, and more. How do you know who is most likely to buy? Nobody seems to have the rules on how to do that.”

That may be true, but at Connections, Trailblazers are starting to rewrite the rulebook.

Check out our recent report with Deloitte, which surveyed global brands on consumer experience.