Salesforce cloud marketing chief: Why it's time to bring marketing and service closer together

Following new product enhancements bringing Service and Marketing Clouds together, we speak with Salesforce's global industries and cloud marketing leader on digital and data progression and changing customer engagement dynamics

It’s the power of marketing and service together that will help brands grow moments into lifelong customer relationships, Salesforce’s executive VP of industries and cloud marketing, Lynne Zaledonis, believes.

The former sales professional and marketing leader caught up with CMO at the vendor’s recent Salesforce World Tour in Sydney to expand on new enhancements made to Salesforce Marketing and Service Clouds, aimed at improving connections across the customer lifecycle, as well as better connecting teams through data and insight.

Zaledonis also shared her views on the state of digital and data maturity across industries off the back of two years of the global pandemic.

With voice still the preferred channel for service engagement, Salesforce’s latest Service Cloud improvements include Contact Lens for Amazon Connect, which provides advanced conversational transcription for phone calls, full-text search on call transcripts, real-time sentiment analysis and real-time supervisor alerts to deliver agent coaching. Salesforce has also struck new partnerships with Google Cloud and Genesys, introducing fresh telephone connectors across platforms to integrate phone and customer data, automate call transcriptions and notes and enable agents to receive real-time AI recommendations.

Salesforce Field Service App’s new multi-level offline briefcase serves up necessary records on mobile both online and offline. Visual Remote Assistant then gives customers the option to schedule and initiate one-to-one virtual support sessions with augmented reality from their phone.

Salesforce Marketing Cloud innovations, meanwhile, centre around the vendor’s customer data platform (CDP). They include Streaming Insights and Data Actions for capturing near real-time data signals such as a new customer, a recent product transaction or payment issue, in order to trigger workflow events. Advanced Identity Resolution now uses AI to match and merge disparate data for better customer identification, while new Anonymous Profiles are designed to track profiles and build data insight on customers when they are in the anonymous state, then connect it to profiles once they become known.

“Customers today want to be deeply understood and engaged with in a way that is personalised and proactive. They want us to be able to protect their data and ensure it’s private. How do we do this? We do it all with data,” Zaledonis told attendees. “We need to bring it all together in a single source of truth, make sure it’s all powered by artificial intelligence and actionable by everyone. That’s how we grow moments into lifelong customer relationships.”  

Here, Zaledonis elaborates further and shares insight into the state of play across industries today.

You made several Service Cloud and Marketing Cloud product announcements. What do they tell us about the customer engagement approach required from organisations today?

Lynne Zaledonis (LZ): We have had to move to a digital world that is hyper connected. Just look at the Mecca brand, which spoke at our event today – customers are in store, and they’re online, and 25 per cent are doing both. You have to have a seamless experience between them. And we’re seeing this across everything, whether it be sales, service, marketing or commerce.  

When you look at Salesforce Customer 360, having all your applications on the one platform allows you to make that customer lifecycle seamless. Because you have to pull customer data from across the enterprise to do that. It’s about bringing together what you’re doing in sales, service, commerce and marketing so you can truly understand who the customer is.

At the same time, compliance and regulations are so tough for marketers. You really need to make sure you’re thinking about a trusted, data-first world. What we’re doing is helping our customers get ready for that. Marketers are trying to get there. It’s a journey. As they start to realise the strategy, our focus is on the tools we can provide that give them clarity as to who the customer is, but also that allow them to protect privacy. This is so you don’t take advantage of the relationship you are building with your customer.

Which industry sectors do you see leading versus lagging in the face of accelerated digital engagement during the pandemic?

LZ: Industries have had to reimagine themselves – it isn’t a matter of ‘going’ digital, they’ve had to rethink how they do business. It’s no longer good enough to take something you do on paper and move it online, it’s about reimagining what processes look like.

This had to be done in retail, healthcare, education to survive. Financial services has led the way too, and manufacturing has started to realise the advantages of doing business digitally. But some have had to move faster than others – notably, government, retail and health. The leaders in these fields are reimagining what that [digital transformation] process looks like, and rethinking customer experience every step of the way.

Several local brands have told CMO it’s becoming harder to get people to hand over more data – it takes more steps and more value as they’re more cautious. How do you think our perception of the ‘creepy line’ and the data-value exchange has changed?

LZ: People have realised they have had to give information away to get things done – I’ve had to give health information to United Airlines if I want to get home on a plane. But I do think people are doing a good job overall of earning trust from consumers.

Where it’s also changed is in loyalty programs approaches. Historically, I gave over my phone number, racked up points then next time I got a discount when I bought a pair of shoes. Now we’re adding more value - for example, there’s training and education if you’re a partner. As a shopper, it might be getting early access to purchase certain items, or a beauty class. People are thinking of new ways that add value in exchange for the data trade.

Do you think there’s as much willingness in the acquisition process for sharing data and employing personalisation?

LZ: What I hear from customers is you need to make sure your experience out of the gate adds value. At Salesforce, we have changed our approach – the amount of information we ask you for today in order to access content or information has decreased. In a lot of cases, we are removing that all together, as we want to show you the trust by offering some value for free.

For example, you can have free learning Trails, watch a series on Salesforce+ or join a community. We do that in the hope you will then become a customer and start to want to engage with us further.

You talked about how important it is to bring together marketing and service to grow the power of customer relationships. What does that mean for the marketing role and function?

LZ: Marketing is arguably the touchpoint more for customers with a company than any other part of the organisation. If you’re doing your job well as a marketer, customers are hopefully not even calling the contact centre. Marketing will continue to touch you and that’s what keeps the customer lifecycle motion going.

It’s marketing that’s generating that emotional connection with a customer.  

As we emerge out of the pandemic, how do you see digital and data excellence evolving over the next 12 months? What are the dos and don’ts?

LZ: It’s about data, AI and automation. That’s the next phase of optimising your digital experiences. The more we can automate, the more human touches we can bring into the system. AI will enable you to make smarter decisions, from externally recommending a product someone might want to purchase through Commerce; to recommending to a sales rep the steps they should take in a deal in Sales Cloud and identifying which deals that might or might not close. AI can identify challenges within the service centre before they come. These AI recommendations will make us a lot smarter and help us bring more value to our customers.

Ultimately, it’s about humanising engagement. Our product announcements are leaning into that – through AI, automation and by making things a little more hybrid. The strength in both of our Marketing and Service platform is the power of the two of them together.  That will help you grow those moments and create a longer lifetime customer relationship. And it’s true across all our clouds – combining the power to stream together processes across the workplace, such as handing off from marketing to service.

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