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Becoming a customer company: The magic of AI, Data and CRM at World Tour Toronto 2023

Becoming a customer company: The magic of AI, Data and CRM at World Tour Toronto 2023

Today’s world is moving faster than ever, and 2023 is proving to be another complex year for businesses. Find out how your company can lean into artificial intelligence (AI), data analytics and CRM to improve employee wellbeing and create better customer experiences.

From Arianna Huffington to Trailblazers like TD and McCain Foods, the Canadian leg of World Tour delivered innovation, inspiration, and insight. Scroll down for the day’s top highlights, and shape your business’ success in the year ahead.

Today’s world is moving faster than ever, and 2023 is already proving to be another complex year for businesses. As leaders continue to navigate macroeconomic headwinds and workforce instability, mission-critical priorities increasingly include cost cutting, efficiency, and productivity. With customer expectations also rising, companies are being forced to do more with less.

The good news? Times of disruption present opportunities for reinvention.

“Now is the time to redefine success,” Emma Chalwin, Salesforce’s EVP of Global Field Marketing explained as she welcomed over 500 Canadian Trailblazers to the keynote. “The saying ‘what got you here, won’t get you there’ has never felt more relevant. At Salesforce, we love a good playbook, and what we’ve seen in our 24 years is that while the world is always changing around us, our customer focus remains.”

The thread of ‘customer focus’ was woven throughout this year’s World Tour Toronto. Businesses of all industries and sizes walked away with an understanding of what it means to be a customer company in 2023, paired with a playbook on how to achieve it.

Check out four actionable takeaways from the event that can help inform your business strategy this year.

1. Employee wellbeing isn’t just a perk – it’s a business strategy

As companies look to rewrite their playbooks for success in a world where change is the only constant, the first step is reimaging the core of your business: the employee experience.

Arianna Huffington, founder and CEO of Thrive Global, sat down for a fireside chat about the productivity paradox and the need for leaders to recognize the deep connection between employee wellbeing and organizational performance. After all, employees are the keepers of the vision and values that are painted on the company wall. They have the potential to be your best brand ambassadors, and can make or break the customer experience they deliver.

Arianna explained that during hard economic times, there is a tendency for C-suites to view wellbeing as a nice-to-have benefit instead of being a modern business strategy. “Employees shouldn’t have to decide between quiet quitting and burnout. When you put humanity at the centre, work gets better… If your employees are thriving, your business will thrive. The employee experience drives the customer experience.”

What does this look like? According to research by Thrive Global, implementing micro-steps, such as taking three 60-second breaks during the day, can go a long way in improving mental health and productivity. Technology platforms with built-in data analytics can help organizations understand employee behaviours, likes and dislikes, and then provide automated, personalized recommendations to help them make wellbeing a priority. She emphasized that the future of employee experiences will see increased augmentation from automated technology solutions, and further integration of wellness and productivity platforms, like Thrive Global and Slack.

In a breakout session later in the day, Tiffani Bova, Salesforce’s Chief Growth Evangelist, doubled down on how a good employee experience (EX) drives a good customer experience (CX) referencing a recent report by Salesforce and Forbes Insights that revealed C-suite teams with high EX and CX scores see 1.8x faster revenue growth. The magic, Tiffani says, is “when companies do both right.”

2. The future of business is AI + Data + CRM.

While equipping employees with the right technology is integral to wellbeing, it is also the beating heart of any modern customer company.

Meghan Gendelman, Salesforce’s SVP of Americas and Financial Services CMO, spoke about why unlocking the power of AI + Data + CRM will set the good customer experiences from the great, ultimately leading to company growth. “Connecting with customers is harder than ever,” she explained. “They want us to meet them where they are – and to personalize every experience. They want to feel like more than just a number.”

The data shows just how complex the customer journey has become. Canadian consumers are now engaging with brands across 15 channels compared to just 10 last year. With 88% of customers saying the experience a company provides is as important as its product or services, 92% say they will switch brands after just two bad experiences.

The stakes for loyalty are high, but the trifecta of AI + Data + CRM can help create what we call Customer Magic. AI can help you unlock real-time insights and stay ahead of your customers’ needs, connecting your data in one platform gives the entire business – from marketing to sales to commerce – a single view of all of your customers at the same time, and a CRM can help you automate and scale your efforts. In other words, this technology hat trick equips your workforce with the tools to make more informed decisions faster that will drive your costs down, productivity up, and your business forward.

The message from Meghan’s keynote was clear: The Trailblazers of today are leveraging modern technology to unlock their data and become true Customer Companies.

3. Innovation and Trust need to go hand-in-hand

While data-driven innovation is at an all-time high, leaders must take note: the amount of data created by humans globally is doubling every 12 hours and nearly 50% of organizations are seeing an increase in threats.

From the shift towards remote work and digital shopping experiences during the pandemic, to the increasing importance of first-party cookies, companies are relying on data more than ever before.When it comes to compliance, leaders need to plan ahead while also being prepared for reputational risks.

Security experts John Commacchio, SVP and CIO at Teknion, and Khaled Hawasli, Canada Lead, Data and AI Security at Accenture, shared how compliance goes beyond company fines. It also has a major impact on customer trust.

While thoughtful long-term data governance has a huge ROI because it future proofs companies for new regulations, there can be tension between innovation and compliance. Companies need dedicated teams working together to stay up-to-date with the ever-changing privacy landscape while also providing personalized, connected customer experiences at scale.

Having the technology in place to help your business protect sensitive data, build securely, and manage evolving compliance needs is an imperative. Reduce risk while you innovate so that your brand can continue to preserve and build one of your most valuable assets–customer trust.

4. Drive innovation and efficient growth with automation

You’ve reimagined employee experiences to benefit your workforce and your bottom line, created Customer Magic with AI + Data + CRM, and have a data governance strategy in place to build customer trust. What’s the last chapter in this business playbook?

Finding a way to continually exceed customer and employee expectations at an almost infinite scale, all while lowering costs, increasing productivity and driving efficient growth for your business.

According to Salesforce’s latest State of Marketing Report, ​​91% of CMOs have identified the need to continually innovate to remain competitive, and 70% of marketers who invested in process/workflow automation view this as a long-term strategy shift.

On the World Tour Toronto keynote stage, Akif Unal, TD’s VP of North American Digital Marketing and Personalization Strategy, explained there are more than 26-billion customer touchpoints throughout his organization alone. “It’s not feasible to manage it all manually, so we need automation,” he explained. TD has automated communication to send at the right time, doubling the number of personalized triggered emails and increasing engagement by 3x. “Leads have gone up by 5x because we’re using data to make it personalized,” he explained.

McCain Foods has seen similar results with personalization and automation, explained Caroline Morissette, VP of Digital & Data. In some cases, such as chefs requesting samples for new offerings, they’ve seen lead times be reduced by 50% and delivery to customers 50% faster. “We’ve innovated this process with Salesforce,” she added.

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