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Episode #115: The Art of the Possible, with Michael Crosse and Amanda Sternquist

Grad Conn

April 13, 2021  •  35 min read

Growth is top of mind for every business. Fortunately, modern channels can help drive that growth, in more ways than you can imagine. Today, Michael Crosse and Amanda Sternquist of HGS Digital break down the ROI of digital customer transformation, the magic of customer experiences, and the hidden costs of doing nothing.

HGS Digital specializes in digital transformation services. They create frictionless customer experiences that solve complex business problems and improve people’s lives.

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PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Grad 
All right, welcome to the CXM Experience. And as always, I’m your host, Grad Conn, CXO, or Chief Experience Officer at Sprinklr. Today I am joined by two people I got a chance to spend a bit of time with in February, Michael Crosse who’s the AVP for digital transformation at HGS, and Amanda Sternquist, who’s the Global Head of Digital Engagement Practice, also at HGS. And today we’re going to talk about a couple of major topics.

One, we’re going to talk about growth, and how people are thinking about growth in the context of modern channels. And then we’re going to talk about the rapid evolution to digital over the last year and how that’s taken some companies by surprise, and probably a bunch of stuff in-between. But let me get started. Amanda, Michael, welcome.

Amanda 
Thank you.

Michael 
Thanks, Grad. Yeah, it’s good to be here. Thank you.

Grad 
So, just to get things rolling, just so people know a little bit about you, and maybe a tiny bit about HGS, Amanda, maybe you could start by a quick intro of yourself, background, what you do at HGS. And then Michael we’ll go to you. And then we’ll start with the topic of growth. And I’ll queue it up. And then we can talk about what your points of view on that are.

Amanda 
Thanks. Amanda Sternquist, is my name. I lead our global digital experience practice, which means that I work with brands all over the world every single day to help them transform their digital, customer engagement processes and strategies. Some of them are just getting into it. Some of them have been in it for a long time. But everyone needs support in terms of understanding what’s possible, what’s the next best thing for them. So, my long 19-year history in social media and digital marketing has led me to my role today where I absolutely love what I do. And sharing that insight is the best part.

Grad 
It’s pretty awesome. I mean, you’re so fortunate to be working in the future. It’s such a great career. You’re in a situation where you’re never going to run out of runway on your job. It’s not like you’re consulting for forestry… forestry is a bad example, because I guess trees will always be around. But it does feel like sometimes people get stuck in spots where the industry is sort of dying. You’re in the beginning of everything. It’s amazing. Well, if you were to look at the industry spectrum, what percentage of the journey do you think we’re on right now as an industry? Are we in the first quarter, the first half, the first 10%?

Amanda 
Oh, gosh, I would definitely say we’re in the first 10%. I mean, customers, our customers, our clients, brands as a whole, are just dipping their foot in the water of understanding the potential behind the modern customer need and desired experience. And by modern customer, I mean those Gen Z’s that are aging into purchase decision-making roles and who are attached to mobile devices. I think the latest statistic is upwards of four devices at any given time is what they have access to. So, they don’t like the idea of picking up a phone anymore. And brands are really having to adjust to ‘How can I reach this audience without making them step outside of their comfort zone?’

Grad 
Amazing. Okay, Michael, quick intro and your role, and then we’ll get into this.

Michael 
Sounds good. Thanks. Michael Crosse, AVP of digital transformation for HGS Digital. My role is to really go out there and turn over opportunities that then get handed to Amanda for delivery. We do work with some of the largest brands in the world. And we have a lot of fun doing this, helping these organizations solve problems, inherent problems and the issues that they have with their customer base, is kind of paramount to what we do. So, it’s fun. I’m a Sprinklr alumni. I was at Sprinklr for a few years. I left for a little bit, and that itch to get back into the social CX practice really hit me hard. I really wanted to get back into this space. And it’s just exciting to be in it. And for some of the reasons that Amanda talked about, like the 10%, where we’re at on the spectrum of really hitting people right with the technology that’s available to them, there’s staggering amounts of opportunity and capability. And really the ability to drive change within these big organizations is fascinating and fun.

Grad 
Well, welcome back. We’re glad you’re back. You know, it is interesting, Linus Torvalds… no, it was Marc Andreessen, I think, wrote an article in 2011 that software is eating the world. I don’t know if you remember that article, it was a pretty famous blog post. It was a little bit of a head scratcher by a lot of people at the time. ‘Software is eating the world? I don’t get that’. Today, it’s pretty clear that software is eating the world. Now software, sometimes is delivered as a service. Sometimes software is on prem. There are a lot of different software delivery models. But the world is becoming software driven. And I agree with you, Amanda, we’re early. Because software has no theoretical limit, in terms of what we can do.

Grad 
Before we go to growth, I want to pick up on something that you mentioned, Amanda, and that you talked about in our pre-meeting, Michael, which is this shift to digital. Amanda, you’re talking about how kids don’t want to pick up the phone. I don’t want to pick up the phone either, by the way. So, it’s not just isolated to Gen Z, or Gen Zed for our European listeners. And I would say that there is this big shift, this synchronous versus asynchronous. Synchronous is, I’m connected like we are right now. Connected in real time to someone having a back-and-forth conversation. And then asynchronous being I can kind of connect and disconnect from that conversation at will.

Grad 
I have a niece named Zoe. She’s my younger brother’s daughter, niece Zoe. And Zoe is, I think she’s probably in grade four or five right now. Reasonably young. And she’s in online school for obvious reasons. And they made a decision to do pure online model because the hybrid model was unpredictable on where the physical location was going to be. They’re in Pennsylvania, so it could be a very long drive. And the other day, I was on the call — we do a weekly family call. And Zoe was talking about her day. And I said, ‘What were you doing today?’ And she said, ‘Oh, well, today, the teacher gave us asynchronous work’. I was thinking, ‘Wow, I think I just learned that word’. Here’s a nine-year-old just popping it out. Asynchronous work. But I do think that’s part of the issue.

Grad 
Michael, you made a comment that a lot of companies have been taken by surprise. That the quick shift from voice to digital feels quicker than they were expecting. And Amanda, you’re talking about, how to reach customers who don’t want to talk to you and don’t want to be asynchronously connected. Let’s talk about that. Because, you know, I am a little confused, to be honest. Because I feel like this has been going on for a long time. But I also agree with you that a lot of people do suddenly seem surprised by it. So how did they get surprised? Why were they surprised? And how do you see this trend playing out over the next few years?

Amanda 
Yeah, I think COVID definitely came as that big eye-opening moment for a lot of people. Where, all of a sudden, digital is the only way to continue doing your business when all the workplaces are shut down. And it was this big surge of, ‘Okay, not only how can we address our customers’ needs in this space, but how can we figure out this game for ourselves? How do we continue to sell to our customers, not just address their needs?’ So, all of a sudden, there was this sudden urge to not only hang up the phone and such, but actually get out there and see what people are saying and learn from those conversations in terms of how can we take our business forward in this new world?

Michael 
Yeah, and I think the interesting thing when we were talking earlier about the voice to the digital shift, digital and social shift, is trying to determine how we can keep contact with these client bases when it got tricky during COVID because they weren’t face to face with you. You were really never seeing anyone; restaurants were doing takeout only; airlines were basically shut down other than emergency work. So, I think the brands that are really engaging on this are dealing with falling budgets, falling revenue, and how do we keep our tentacles on that customer base and really remind them that we’re a friendly face. ‘Hey, remember when you flew a lot, you really liked flying on X airline?’ And trying to keep your hands on those customers is probably more important now than it ever has been. Just because of the limited contact that you’re having with them in a face-to-face environment.

Grad 
Well, it is interesting. You probably see more customers on a daily basis than I do. But I do talk to about two or three customers a day. And what’s been interesting to me is this theme of membership has been … Oh, you’re nodding your heads … So, the theme of membership has been coming up more and more. And this is where Old World meets new world. So, in the old world, when you used a CRM system to track and manage your customers connected to your voice-based call center, the person became someone you could contact once you had a monetary transaction with them. In this sort of new world of CXM or customer experience management or consumer experience management, depending on how you look at it, someone could be attached to your brand, but he may not have ever had any kind of financial transaction with you; may have just had a conversation  with you or you may have entered a conversation. So, the idea of membership is sort of  entering this lexicon of, can I create a community or members around my brand who may or may not be “customers”? So, let’s talk about that a little bit. And what are you seeing there? Amanda? Why don’t you start with that? And then Michael just jump in as we’re going through that?

Amanda 
I think the idea of membership really helps you grow that solid audience that you can say, look, times are tough right now, we’re not serving our customers as we would like to, but here’s what’s on the roadmap for the next quarter or the next year, or whatever it is. And so, it’s having that that constant touch point or that access to communicate with them, because they want it; because they’re welcoming it. And then you can transition that into continuing to sell to them and transition that membership only from a quiet observer to an active participant in your business?

Grad 
Who’s doing it really well right now, Michael, do you have any …?

Michael 
From a brand standpoint or a vertical standpoint?

Grad 
Vertical may be a good place to start, actually. Which verticals do you think are starting to make progress on this front?

Michael 
Well, I think, in queue, in the QSR world, the quick serve restaurant world, they’re doing a good job of managing to that interest, I think they’re really going down that path of how do we create this consumer that doesn’t just think of us as the place to go get a burger or chicken sandwich or diet coke, They’re doing a good job of it. Trying to keep consumers in this day and age, and in the way the world is now where there are billions of distractions where years ago, you had your phone, and you had your TV. And for some of us, we even remember when there was just a phone on the wall, and not one that you carried around with you. Now you have so many distractions, I think it’s fundamentally of the utmost importance for these brands to really connect with their audience and really get them to think, ‘Hey, this is something that I like and that I want to continue being a part of’. And that sounds kind of hokey from a QSR perspective, like, you know, who gets married to a fast-food joint, but, you know, you create some brand loyalty around it and people will continue to spin into your environment. And that’s very important for those brands. Right? Because that’s a fight on the street, or for market share, for sure.

Grad 
One of the connections… so go ahead, Amanda.

Amanda 
I was going to say even more. So, I think that that idea of loyalty as a whole is something that everyone’s got to get on the bandwagon with, because customers get this feeling of ‘I’m part of something and I can’t wait to get my next whatever it is and earn my points towards my discount, or my freebie or that piece of the puzzle that they’re longing for’. So, a lot of those loyalty-driven programs or brands, rather, are really winning in this space with the way that they continually connect and encourage that communication and interaction with their customers.

Grad 
And it is an interesting space, like White Castle did a really interesting thing for Valentine’s Day where if you went to White Castle on Valentine’s Day, they’d made up tables with balloons and hearts and all sorts of stuff. So, I actually rented a limo and took my girlfriend to White Castle for Valentine’s Day. We did other things too, just to be clear. That was not the only thing we did, that was part of it. And she loved it. It was really awesome. And then in the same vein, the same girlfriend when she was married, she had her marriage before she met me and in her first marriage on her wedding day, she never listens to this podcast, I can say whatever I want about her. So, on her wedding day, this is a true story , it’s not a bad story …. So, they got married. And then they went to the reception. And in between there, in the car with her new husband, they stopped at Taco Bell. And she had a taco on the way to the reception. That is brand love.

Michael
That is brand love and optimism when you’re wearing a white dress.

Grad
Apparently, not a problem, she totally pulled it off. But anyway, you’re right, some of these food brands are almost like … because food has an emotional component to it …  they’re trying to find that emotional thing. And to your point, Amanda, and gamify it as well and have people get stay engaged and be part of it. Very interesting. And you could be part of those things and be part of those motions without necessarily buying the product,

Michael 
When the gamification is really the interesting part of it, because for a while I was on a little run where I was Togo playing all the time. But at that point, they didn’t have a loyalty program. And I was actually not happy about it. I remember being like, ‘Why are they not doing this? This is a great.’ From a marketing background, it’s easy to say, ‘Hey, it’s a great way to capture data on your customer base’. But from my perspective it’s like, ‘I want to get points’. I’m constantly thinking about it. You know, one of the things with COVID and not traveling, it’s like I want to get my points back from the hotels and the airlines. I think there’s a trigger in all of our brains now as the world has gotten so digitized. And there’s so many points to touch that we all want some form of gamification around what we’re doing. And some of the brands do it really well, Togo actually does do it better now, but for a while there they didn’t. And I was really confused as to why they weren’t. So, it really is. Those loyalty programs are … they sucker you in a little bit … or not sucker you in but they just pull you in? Right? It’s not suffering with emotional content.

Grad 
I want to come back to this issue. And I mentioned it briefly at the beginning and wanted to bring it up again. I’m still a little stupefied that people were surprised by this. Every once in a while, someone will say something like, ‘Yeah, that digital stuff really took us by surprise’. And it’s like, 2021. I’m like … go ahead, Amanda, you take this one.

Amanda 
No, I think people felt like they were starting to map out what this transition might look like for their brand. And then all sudden, boom, the world shuts down. And now it’s like, Oh, I’ve got do this overnight, I’m not ready for this’, like this isn’t, this wasn’t the plan. And you know, they maybe have a five-year plan, and all of a sudden, it becomes a one-week plan. So, for us, this is our sweet spot, right? This is where we just, … Michael and I just live and breathe on solving these problems. And in creating these pieces of the puzzle that fit together for them, and to give them the whole picture of how this could really happen. And I think there are so many options out there that you know, for us, one of the first, one of the very first things we do, is a tech evaluation, what have you got right now? And does your tech stack up to what you’re trying to accomplish here? And because there are so many options available, it’s a rough environment to be in if you don’t have a really clear objective in terms of what your desired outcomes are.

Grad 
Well, I think there’s a little bit of an issue generally though, there’s not really a legitimate unified growth platform out there. So, if we were talking about healthcare right now, we would be probably talking about the need to put Epic Systems in. Are you familiar with Epic systems? Great company in Madison, Wisconsin, one of the America’s great companies actually, I would say potentially one of America’s greatest companies, great leadership and incredible, incredible team spirit and amazing culture.

Amanda 
and amazing campus to me.

Grad 
And they’ve done an incredible job of transforming an entire industry and who knows how many lives Epic has saved because of the ability to have all the patient information in one place and be able to manage outcomes more deliberately coupled with good moves by the government to be more outcome focused, has put Epic now, I think, they are at 60% market share. And it took them a long time. It took a while to build the complete platform, but very rarely would you see a hospital say, ‘I’m going to buy 25 different point solutions, hammer them all together with, like, baling wire , spit and hope and all that kind of stuff. And then hope all that works somehow’. Everyone goes ‘I’m going to buy Epic and implement it’ and in some cases some hospital systems have spent a billion I’ve heard as high as 5 billion dollars implementing it, but then they’re transformed. So, in our space, in kind of the commercial space, there’s not really an Epic. And so, what everyone is doing, and  … feel free to debate me on this one, by the way … but what everyone’s doing is they’re essentially trying to compose an Epic, unified system by buying a bunch of point solutions and hammering them together. And the result is point solution chaos. And I think that may be part of the reason why people stayed with voice and stayed with some of the more traditional techniques, because, gosh, darn it, they work.

Amanda 
Yeah, and the idea, the thought of migrating a CRM to any cloud-based software is sometimes nauseating for brands, or like, we’ve got 40-years-worth of data or more right here, and you’re saying that we’ve got to move this somewhere else, like, what, and then my company has to learn how to use something else. So that’s exactly what we see. And that is one of the biggest pain points, the only way to overcome that is to have some really transitional leaders that can envision that future state and pep their teams up to get through this little hurdle that comes with making that transition.

Grad 
And there’s a big risk, Big career move to ask people to take

Michael 
It’s a huge move and I think that’s a very salient point, it’s like having that right person inside of an organization who is really championing the capabilities around digital and social, and bringing that message forward to lead staff. And I think that was part of the disconnect is, you had a lead staff who didn’t grow up in this environment, this digitized environment. And as the Gen Z, or, the younger folks had more access to the C Suite, you start getting a blending of the ideas, and then it starts to overtake. So, I think in the long haul it would have happened eventually, I think some people are just being fast-forwarded through it because of circumstances around COVID, and tumbling losses on the bottom line, and really trying to figure out, ‘Hey, what’s our strategy going to be when we spin out of this to get better, and to be better and be more customer centric, and really trying to try and treat our customers as partners, as opposed to just people who are giving us money, and it’s very transactional?’

Grad 
Great, because that’s kind of done. Let’s double click on that. You’re sort of touching on this issue of recovery and another theme that I’m hearing as I travel around the world, and obviously traveling virtually, I mean, it’s pretty cool, though. Today, I basically, I don’t know, I probably logged about 12,000 miles between the different locations. And you know,

Amanda 
how do we create an airline loyalty program for that?

Grad 
Zoom points? Pretty cool. Actually. Yeah, zoomies, it’s a great idea, put that one on the shelf? A great idea. Anyway, so what I’m hearing is that there always have been three things a business is worried about. There’s ‘How do I increase revenue? How do I decrease costs? And how do I manage risk’. Those are always the things that every CEO has to worry about, and every board is concerned with. I do remember a time, if you think about the In Search of Excellence days, Tom Peters, and those folks, the 80s and early 90s, there was a definite different moment then, where things were a lot harder back then, business was a lot harder. At one point, Japan was poised to be the number one economy in the world. There was a movie with Michael Keaton, where his factory, I don’t remember the name of this movie, was taken over by the Japanese and they all get thrown out of work. And there’s all sorts of stuff happening, it was a very challenging time. And where a lot of those folks landed at the time was growth is the one thing you have to worry about while keeping costs from being crazy, like you don’t let them go out of control. But you can’t grow your way to success by managing costs. You just have to keep costs from becoming a massive negative. And the same thing with managing risk. You can’t grow your way to be a successful business by managing risk. But you do need to make sure you’ve got someone on top of that so that it doesn’t get in your way. But growth is the imperative of the C Suite and the organization. And that kind of went a little bit out of fashion for a while because growth was easier. I think everyone’s really worried about growth again. Oh boy. Right. And so, it’s ‘How do I start growing again, and now I’ve got all this disruption that’s occurred. So how do I manage the new entrance and disrupted consumers, disrupted habits, all the different things that are going to happen that stand in my way?’ So, let’s talk about growth and let’s talk about how people are going to think about it, how you’re seeing your customers think about growth, what are they doing? What tactics are they taking to address it? And what are they looking for from yourself and from the kind of other vendors that they work with?

Amanda 
I think, you know, so far, what we’ve been able to really show them is that there is more value in transitioning these sorts of costs of doing business services to a digital environment. Because you know, for example, the cost of picking up the telephone, when someone calls your 800 number can be upwards of $10 per call, where the cost of picking up a tweet when someone says, ’Hey, X airlines, you guys canceled my flight, and I didn’t get my refund’, or whatever, could cost you a $1.50 to address in digital. So, it’s this transition of out of the Stone Age, if you will, and into the modern era, and looking at how can you use this digital world, to not only lower your costs of doing business, but also gather really valuable insights that will provide you with operational decision points to grow more.

Michael 
A conversation I’ve had three different times this week is around ROI. So, taking a tactic of talking about ROI on the investments that these organizations are making in either services on our end or for Sprinklr on the software side, it’s really important to address what could this mean for your organization by giving them real examples. And we can share real examples of how if this organization retains,  takes 10% of their one-star reviews on Yelp or on Google reviews, and they address those, and they retain that customer, retain that business? What it can mean for them when you extrapolate it out against the number of one-star reviews they have. And it’s really telling because you get a great response from that every time you tell that story. I have yet to have hear someone go, ‘Well, that really doesn’t make sense for our business’. It’s always, ‘Wow, can I find out more about that? Can you guys do a little bit of a deeper dive around that, so that we can understand where we’re missing, where the gaps are? Where are those customers that we so desperately need right now? Where are they falling off? Where are they going to and why? And how can we keep them in house?’

Grad 
That’s a great example. You know, there’s one business I ran into, where they were deliberately not reading their reviews. Because their perspective was, once we start reading them, then we have to take action on them.

Amanda 
As if, if I didn’t see it, it didn’t happen.

Grad 
All right. Yeah, that would probably be a thing you’d want to do, you’d want to take action on reviews. But they’re like, we don’t have the static, they had not scaled it. And Michael, you talked a little bit about sort of setting up the customer. And then Amanda kind of delivers the HGS digital sort of delivery system for it. So, let’s talk about this a little bit, which is people are, to a certain extent, stuck with a bunch of legacy systems that they have to keep running. And then, we come along in the digital realm, and we’re like, ‘Hey, we need to do all this other new stuff’. And then, ‘I don’t, I’m already not getting to everything, I need to get to the legacy side of things. I’m already resource constrained. I don’t know how to peel resources off to move them to digital, without impairing what I know is generating something on the back end’. So, how do you manage that? And, Amanda, as you think about implementing it, how are you measuring that? And Michael, how do you set that up? I’d love to see how the two of you work together on that front?

Michael 
Well, I’ll start. I’ll start since I’m the beginning, and Amanda gets to do the heavy lifting on really, it’s around talking about what is the cost of not addressing this part of your business? Right. So that’s how I would address it with someone like, ‘Okay, you don’t want to address your one-star reviews, you’re a global brand with let’s say 12,000 locations, and you have 250,001 one-star reviews a year and you don’t want to address them, Well, here’s what that’s going to mean to you from a value perspective’. If each customer is the equivalent of $37 a year, you can start extrapolating out and you get into real math and the nice thing is that and, you know this is more about our partnership with Sprinklr as with a tool like that, and then us building it out and us helping out with strategy and managed services, in being able to staff that side of the building for you. We can help take them to that level without real heavy interruption in their in their staff or without adding to it or creating too much burden. So, I think really, in the world that we live in, and you know it, and by we, I mean, Amanda and I, we need to really be clear on how we’re not going to disrupt their world, we’re going to enhance their world. So that’s the vision that I’m out there talking to people about and then Amanda, I’ll hand it off to her, she gets to do all the dirty work.

Amanda 
Yeah. So absolutely, that value realization is exactly where we can make this sort of dream come true for them, right. So, we’re listening to all of these different conversations already. What is the cost implication if you don’t act? And what is the reward if you do act, so it’s all about customer retention, and customer acquisition, but also with the customers that you do have that are everyday fans? It’s dropping in and doing some of that suggestive selling inside of social. So, it’s not abnormal, for example, for a customer to say, ‘Gosh, you know, hey, fan base of mine, who has the best place for Margaritas on Tuesday night, right? And then I’m a Mexican restaurant, and I’m listening to that. And I go, ‘Well, shoot, I got a $2 Margarita special right here, click, Make your reservation now’. And it’s effortless for me, I’m like, ‘Well, heck, I’m going to click right there and make my reservation and go have myself some $2 margaritas’. Now, alcohol aside, there are so many opportunities for brands to jump in here and do these things. And maybe that $2 Margarita also equates to where it starts. But then it ends up being a $60 bill, because I’ve brought my neighbors and we’ve had fajitas and Margaritas and chips and dessert and all kinds of things. So, it’s that theory of it’s okay to reach those people that are maybe looking for something that you might have, there’s very, very minimal cost of doing that. So when you show a brand how much money is sitting out there on the table waiting for them to pick it up,and how even once you deduct the cost of the technology and the team that’s going to support that workflow, they’re still making millions of dollars a year on average.

Grad 
But one thing I’ve been surprised by is how frequently brands ignore what I call ‘jump balls’. And one of the most extraordinary examples is in the auto industry. I had a really interesting auto manufacturer discussion this week, won’t say which one obviously, but it has some exciting potential opportunities there. And what they don’t seem to realize is that an automobile is a very significant purchase, and many, many other people have purchased your car. Right? And your other most significant purchase is your home, but nobody else has purchased 4640 Delray Beach Avenue. So you don’t tend to say, ‘I’m thinking about buying this house. What else? What do you all think of it?’ People tend to do that, right? Maybe your friends, or a really close relative, but it’s not like a post that you put on Twitter, but I’m thinking of buying a new SUV? What do you think? Which one can elicit some pretty interesting feedback? So, there are literally thousands and thousands of posts a day that are like that, I’m thinking of buying an SUV. I did one just for fun. Just because I knew I was having this meeting. I actually mentioned ten equivalent competitors, by all I mentioned, you know, etc.,  etc. You, Ford, that kind of stuff. And, I mentioned ten and three got back to me. And I mentioned them, okay. Yeah, that’s the real test should be I shouldn’t have even mentioned they should. But I kind of had this sinking feeling that no one would get back to me, right. But the fact that only three out of ten got back to me, even with that mention was pretty shocking. And I was actually legitimately looking for an SUV, and I legitimately actually bought one. So, I’m an actual customer. But there’s thousands of these every day, and they’re just ignored. And as we think about , … I think there’s a little bit of a point of view, that somehow these modern channels are conversational, but just for chitty chatting. And I think the real change that has to occur is people have got to move to thinking about them as a way of selling, as a way of driving growth for the organization and a way of leveraging the Facebook conversational commerce flows to be able to sell in-line and Messenger. There’s this world we’re moving to where you’re going to make a lot of money and ultimately, I think make most of your money. But how do you how do you coach people on that because I’m so stunned by how backwards smart, smart companies and smart, smart people are. I almost don’t even know how to start the conversation sometimes. How do you do that? How do you coach them through that?

Amanda 
First off, there’s this huge misunderstanding about what social conversation is. So you’ve got all of these people who will talk to you in an ‘own’ fashion where they’re mentioning you, commenting on your content. And then you’ve got all of these conversations that are happening about you. So, if you look at it, for example, from a customer service perspective, me saying, @Michael, I just had the worst experience at this Taco Bell, don’t ever go there, is no different than me saying @Taco Bell, I just had the worst experience at this location. Right? So that’s the goal. So, why is someone saying @Ford, I’m thinking of buying the new Explorer , can you tell me more, any different than someone saying, @Grad, what kind of SUV did you get, I’m in the market? So, all selling opportunities exist out there in both this owned and earned space, and there’s so much value that’s being left on the table by ignoring all of those activities that happen that pertain to your brand or your industry, but don’t directly mention you.

Grad 
it’s mind blowing.

Michael 
It is. And I think part of it, it’s incumbent on the folks like me who are out there talking to these brands, on the front end, or from a sales perspective or grabbing your perspective as more of an evangelist, is really talking to them about the art of the possible when it comes to this stuff. And I think that’s what gets left on the table. Because when you start talking about an organization, you start seeing values, and you start talking about dollars and feeds and you kind of can get into that environment where you’re  just focusing on, ‘Hey, what are the five things we need to do to get this done?’ As opposed to ‘How do we really make this process evolutionary for this organization? How do we get this organization to start thinking completely differently than they did two years, five years, ten years ago.  Those seven brands, those seven other brands that didn’t respond like, Wow, what a lead, right? I mean, that’s something where you can actually go and you can say, ‘Hey, Mr. CMO of whatever car company it is, we’d love to talk to you about what having a healthier social and digital presence will mean for your organization and add value for you’. As opposed to just ‘Wow, we have this great product, do you want to try and test run it, or use it or incorporate it into your environment’. That’s where, when you’re talking about people having, I like to call, technology overload, where they already have 300 systems that they’re using, and while we need to add another one,  you know, the eye rolls and again, you have to loop it back to the art of the possible and what is the cost of not doing this? What is the cost of not addressing it, covering your ears, or your eyes. In this case, when you go to the internet and you look at your one-star reviews or don’t look at them. There’s so much potential with this. And I think people don’t understand the firepower of it. So, I think it really is incumbent that we teach as opposed to just sell.

Grad 
Yeah, I know, it’s amazing. I do think that we will start to see big, big, big brands figure this out. And then I think the pendulum really shifts. I think we’ll be forced to respond. Okay, so we’re getting near the end. Michael, I understand that you have your own podcast, called brilliantly, I will add, Pubcast. I wish I had called this podcast, Pubcast, that’s a hell of a name. But do you want to give podcast, Pubcast, a 30 second promo? And then I’ll end with some final thoughts from you, Amanda.

Michael 
The Pubcast is a group of my friends sitting around talking about a lot of nonsensical, useless kind of information that’s just driven on entertainment mostly – movie reviews; we’ve reviewed so many movies and typically they’re older; we did Snatch, which is one of my favorite movies recently. And it’s just a group of people sitting around having a drink and having a few laughs. So, check it out if you’re interested.

Grad 
That sounds awesome. I love shows like that where the people who are doing the show are getting progressively you know, more drinky as the show goes on. Drinky, is that a word? Quite fun. All right, but not this show. There’s no drinking here. Just water. All right, Amanda, closing thoughts and then I’ll wrap. Thank you.

Amanda 
My cooking blog doesn’t even compare to Michael’s Pubcast there but in my spare time, when I’m not trying to conquer the digital world, I definitely am. You can find me in the kitchen.

Grad 
What’s the address for your kitchen blog?

Amanda 
It’s called Meal Prep Mama. And so, you can just add me on Facebook Meal Prep Mama. I’m trying to help people eat healthier, prep their meals ahead of time, because if you’re like me, you’re sitting in front of a zoom meeting for 12 hours a day and you’ve got no time to cook yourself lunch or breakfast stuff, so you pop it in the microwave, and you’re good to go.

Grad 
Look at us digital natives. Look at all the cool stuff we’re doing. Thank you. Thank you very much. My guests today were Michael Crosse, AVP Digital Transformation. And Amanda Sternquist, Global Head of digital engagement practice for HGS, and HGS is one of our most valued partners at Sprinklr. They did a wonderful job presenting at our annual sales kickoff meeting recently. It was really great to have them there and got to know them a bit and I really appreciate all the time today. And I love this conversation today. So, for the CXM Experience, I’m Grad Conn, CXO Sprinklr, and I will see you … next time

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Grad Conn

Chief Experience Officer, Sprinklr

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