From adtech to customer experience: Salesforce's bid to create connected experiences

In Asia, 52% of customers stop buying from a brand because they get a better experience with a competitor.

The recently concluded Dreamforce 2018 conference saw the conversations about brands adopting adtech and martech, evolved into conversations about ‘customer experience tech’.

Jess O’Reilly, regional vice president for marketing cloud in Asia at Salesforce tells The Drum this is because brands today face a pressing mandate to create connected experiences, driven by seven in 10 customers across the world, saying connected processes – such as seamless handoffs or contextualised engagement based on earlier interactions – are very important to winning their business.

In Asia, 52% of customers stop buying from a brand because they get a better experience with a competitor. In addition, from a marketing point of view, rather than just drive awareness and generic action, brands in Asia must consider how they can deliver a customer-centric experience that truly differentiates, based on information they have about consumers in the cloud and the devices we have at our fingertips.

The annual conference also allowed Salesforce to showcase how it helps companies across all verticals put the customer at the core of everything they do, to succeed by connecting data and enhancing the customer experience.

“The announcements on enterprise voice AI – Einstein Voice, capabilities to better connect and integrate silos of data – Salesforce Customer 360 and MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform update, as well as our landmark partnership with Apple, will enable brands in Asia – many of whom are already on Salesforce Marketing Cloud and Salesforce Service Cloud – to create more connected experiences than ever before,” explains O’Reilly.

Connecting and integrating data silos within marketing functions

Salesforce Customer 360 will allow Salesforce to put its acquisition of MuleSoft to work because both platforms are compatible, allowing users to connect apps, databases, and devices with APIs directly to it.

Like Salesforce Marketing Cloud integration with Google Analytics 360 in June 2018, this creates a single representation of a customer that can be updated and accessed by users across all connected systems within the organisation to deliver unified and contextualised cross-channel experiences.

O’Reilly explains this is important because today’s customers seek contextualised experiences – meaning a company’s engagement with them must reflect an understanding of past actions, product usage and a myriad of other factors. However, almost four in 10 customers feel less connected to companies than they did two years ago.

“There is an opportunity today for marketers in Asia to be the custodian of the connected customer. This starts with acknowledging there is no such thing as just ‘customer feedback independently handled by the customer service team’ or ‘billing solely handled by the sales team’, she says.

“These are touchpoints that need to be orchestrated as part of a cohesive experience from a central strategy. More than eight in 10 of all customers in Asia also say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services.”

One brand that has successfully used Salesforce to deliver contextualised experiences for fans is heavy metal band, Metallica.

The band is using Salesforce Marketing Cloud to obtain a single view of fans across email, mobile and social media, allowing them to create personalised content and experiences for different types of fans, and deepen relationships with the entire Metallica family.

According to O’Reilly, as the process of marketing new music records has changed radically, with mobile, cloud and social making online streaming mainstream, and disrupting the way concert tickets and experiences are sold, it made sense for this unusual partnership to be form.

To cope with the disruption, Metallica launched its new website on Salesforce Commerce Cloud, making it easier for fans to shop online, and enjoy exclusive access to tickets, content and merchandise.

“Metallica, as a band, was formed 37 years ago. What I find most encouraging is seeing a brand with significant legacy that’s not afraid to embrace technology and reinvent itself to deliver the connected experiences demanded by today’s consumers,” explains O’Reilly. “I hope that Metallica’s example strikes a chord with companies in Asia who have been around for a long time, by showing that a brand’s age is just a number and it can in fact trailblaze its way to new possibilities, through technology.”

Voice technology for businesses and consumers

Direct-to-consumer advertisers are experimenting with voice to see where it fits into marketing strategies and exploring direct marketing through intelligent home or smartphone assistants. For Salesforce, it wants to bring together consumer experiences and business to business capabilities through Einstein Voice on its B2B Commerce Cloud.

According to Salesforce, 79% of business buyers in Asia want the same experience when they are buying for themselves. That gives it an opportunity to offer business buyers an interface that mirrors a consumer’s online shopping experience.

“Through Einstein Voice, employees can conversationally enter information about a meeting, get daily briefings before meetings and interact with Salesforce data dashboards by asking questions instead of typing queries. It can also pick out key data and let you set action items to follow up on,” explains O’Reilly.

“Technology is also setting new bars for innovation. Most customers believe that new technologies – and the differentiated experiences they produce – will transform their interactions with companies in the short-term. In fact, majority of customers say their expectations are already impacted by voice-activated personal assistants (59%) and AI (51%).”

For DTC brands, Salesforce has formed a partnership with Apple to help marketers and native app developers in the region blend voice and AI with mobile to create new value for their businesses and customers. Through the partnership, companies that work with Salesforce can now tap into its backend systems to make better use of Apple-specific features like Siri.

For example, customers staying in a Marriott International hotel will enjoy voice over clicks convenience when adjusting room temperature, ordering room service, or arranging a car pick up – all through Siri on their iPhone or an Apple HomePod in the room.

The hotel system, fully integrated with Siri, then remembers all their preferences. The experience the customers receive in each of their subsequent visit to that hotel or any other hotel under the same chain, becomes more personalised because guest profiles and data from multiple touchpoints are being integrated and analysed on the Salesforce Service Cloud platform.

“Addressing the people aspect, for brands to fully leverage new integrations between Apple and Salesforce, new knowledge and skills in building mobile apps and using them effectively will no doubt be required,” says O’Reilly. “Our partnership delivers the tools and resources developers need to build their own voice-integrated native apps – by introducing a Salesforce Mobile SDK for iOS and a new iOS app development course on Trailhead, Salesforce’s free, web-based learning platform.”

“More than 3 in 10 customers are also wary of companies’ use of new technologies, making customer education as critical as companies explore new ways to differentiate. We are making it easier for people in Asia – from users to developers – to self-learn on the go and take modules about business, leadership, new technologies and user experience etc., by making the first ever Trailhead Mobile App available on iOS.”

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