Salesforce: Personalisation is a long way off what consumers now expect

Trust is key as brands look to better personalise customer engagement, says Salesforce VP of product marketing

Leading brands are personalising well, but most organisations have a way to go before their personalisation is at the level the modern consumer now expects.

This is the opinion of Salesforce's VP of product marketing, Bobby Jania, who caught up with CMO at the recent Dreamforce conference to discuss the push towards one-to-one engagement.

With all consumers much more empowered than ever before, there's no excuse for not embracing that and listening to your customers, he said. From there, it's imperative brands personalise, get those right messages out to them, and strive to engage seamlessly across multiple channels.

Thanks to machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud technology, along with the speeds by which we can connect, we are closer than ever to that one-to-one conversation, Jania said. “We can now listen to what customers are doing through in-store, online, their purchase history, marketing, commerce, service, and use that information to figure out what the next step should be and engage the consumer on the channel they choose,” he said. 

AI facilitates this one-to-one conversation, and Jania said Salesforce has looked to remove silos in the customer journey through its Interaction Studio offering. This functionality aims to react to the real-time behaviour of consumers as they interact with a brand’s owned channels, including online through email, social and mobile, and offline via in-store.

“It carries the message through, which is what customer expects from brands,” he said.

But while some leading brands are further along the maturity curve in terms of personalisation, the majority of brands aren’t at that level yet, Jania said.

“Of course, it’s easier today to do a product recommendation, but harder to do content recommendation. Most brands are still serving up top line, blanket content," he continued. "With the power of AI, we're going to see rich, highly targeted information deployed in terms of content. It will still need a human to write that content in the future - I don’t think we’ll see the AI writing it - but we can personalise and target it better as we move forward.”

Jania also flagged the ongoing importance of trust to the consumer and in how data is utilised. He noted Salesforce's recent State of the Connected Customer report showed 95 per cent of consumers are likely to be loyal to a company they trust, while 86 per cent are more likely to trust companies with their information if they explain how it provides a better experience.

“If a brand explains to the customer how they are going to use their information, and shows them in a way the info will benefit the CX, the customer is willing to hand that info over. If the customer is not sure how their info is going to be used, or if it’s going to be sold, or it’s not used in the customer’s best interest, this destroys trust,” he said. "If you have the trust, then customers are going to engage more with your brand."

Facebook's data issue via Cambridge Analytica, and the roll out of the GDPR in Europe, have made people much more aware of their data, Jania said.

"Customers want to know now what information is being collected. And we as marketers should always ask ourselves: Just because you can collect it, should you? We must show how it’s going to create a better experience for the consumer in return,"  he advised. 

“We’re at a great point in time where CX is top of mind, whether it’s B2B or B2C, and we have all the pieces that combine to create great CX now. It's not just marketing but also sales and service. Having all these things connected in one platform creates the real CX people want.”

Vanessa Mitchell travelled to Dreamforce as a guest of Salesforce.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+:google.com/+CmoAu

 

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