Salesforce: Why real-time experience means reaching beyond marketing

Fisher & Paykel shares why it's adopting the vendor's latest Genie real-time customer platform play

When Salesforce first launched more than 20 years ago, it heralded not just a new way of recording customer data but was also only the second prominent example of the nascent software-as-a-service model.

Twenty years later, SaaS has become the overwhelming choice of delivery model for software vendors. But the needs of marketers and sales chiefs has evolved from needing to record the experiences of customers, to helping create them.

Which may explain why at this year’s Dreamforce conference in San Francisco, Salesforce choose to unveil the latest evolution of its Customer 360 platform, Genie, which brings together the real-time capabilities of customer data platforms (CDPs) into the rest of Salesforce’s customer management suite. According to Salesforce senior vice-president for marketing, Bobby Jania, the evolution to real time capabilities is one that customers have been asking for.

“It is a request I have heard a lot,” Jania tells CMO. “The service department can’t have one view of a customer, and the marketing department has a different view of that customer, and the sales department has a different view of that customer. If we continue to do that, you’ll continue to have siloed moments and not have personalisation that is unified across the board.

“So, we are using technology to bring that customer profile to all facets of the business.”

How Fisher & Paykel is looking to harness real-time

It is a strategy that holds strong appeal for existing Salesforce customer, Fisher & Paykel, which is in the midst of implementing Salesforce’s CDP solution to connect up different touchpoints and ensure it knows who the customer is across its different platforms.

According to Fisher & Paykel executive vice-president of marketing digital transformation, Rudi Khoury, the new capabilities will assist with automating a generation of actions based on customer interactions, such as immediately sending registration information upon completing a purchase.

“The Genie part is the real-time engine, so when you have a piece of data, you can act on it in seconds," Khoury says. “This is something we have experienced as a challenge to be solved. You need those things to be real time, because if the customer doesn’t get it, they are going to call your call centre asking you for it."

Khoury says the ability to have more things real-time in the platform will make it easier when building new experiences.

“We're not having to engineer in those, and they have really configured it to be 'clicks not code', which is fantastic,” he says.

Read more: Fisher & Paykel: We want to be the most human-centred appliance company

While Genie represents the effective rebranding of Salesforce’s CDP, Jania says it brings much more to the table, including more than 100 connections to additional data sources made available through the company's integration platform, Mulesoft. Genie has been enabled for each of Salesforce's industry specific clouds and integrates natively with Snowflake, meaning customers can access data stored there without needing to first copy it across.

“We are going to keep building more connectors," Jania says. “Our goal is to get it where you can bring the data in with clicks and set it up easily. Since this is built on top of the Salesforce platform and uses our metadata model, that data is natively accessible by any of our clouds.”

Jania says this idea of 'clicks not code' is also critical to Genie, as customers are not willing to endure lengthy and highly technical implementation cycles.

“We want to make it so you don't have implementations that take weeks to set up,” Jania says. “We want to help you map the data once it is brought in using clicks - eliminating what would be two or three weeks of work into five minutes of work.”

As to use, Jania gives the example of an airline customer who has just experienced a cancelled flight and is now calling through to the contact centre.

“Imagine being able to pick up the phone and see that [the caller] has just been on the website and looking at help articles, while in real time calculating a sentiment score and seeing it is declining, and that they may be upset,” Jania says. “That is going to change your tone and your approach to the call.”

The same capabilities could help contact centre agents make recommendations to customers based their website interactions and their recent service history. In many instances, Janie says Genie's value came through tearing down the siloes that build up around the data assets of each function.

While the idea of providing real-time responsiveness has been discussed for many years as the nirvana for customer experience, Jania says it took the development of Salesforce's Hyperforce public cloud-based infrastructure platform to provide the computing power to make it possible. Salesforce's CDP was the first product to be made available on Hyperforce, and the CDP also takes advantage of so-called lakehouse data architecture, which combines the benefits of both data warehouse and data lake technology.

“That allowed for us to then take that data layer at a scale that was previously not possible with our relational database, and build in real-time,” Jania says.

Salesforce's announcement of Genie at Dreamforce last week included two demonstrations of its use at beauty company, L’Oréal and carmaker, Ford Motor Company. Most typically, Jania says the companies best able to make use of Genie are those that have already taken steps to bring together different functions.

“Technology alone doesn’t solve the problem," Jania says. “You need to have organisational alignment, cultural alignment all across the board.”

  • Brad Howarth travelled to Dreamforce as a guest of Salesforce.

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