Episode #12: 3 More Steps to Getting Started with Modern Channels

Grad Conn

November 22, 202010 min read

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You know you need to accelerate your digital transformation. You know you need to embrace modern channels in order to be able to connect with your customer and prospects. In episode #6 I gave you three steps for getting started. Here are three more to keep you going.

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And welcome to the CXM Experience, where experience is the new brand. It’s my new selling line. So hey, today I’m going to talk about something that I’m running across a lot.

And it’s very interesting how times have changed. When I first started Sprinklr, about three years ago, one of the first things I did was spend a fairly significant amount of time with customers, talking to customers, visiting customers, visiting with prospects…actually did about 400,000 miles in the air last year 340,000 of them on Delta, and then the rest scattered across a few other airlines. And I got a chance to kind of go around the world. There was one particular trip I remember where I literally went around the world in eight days, which I thought was pretty awesome. I flew from JFK to Korea to, I think it was then Switzerland, to London, and then from London to JFK. And did that all in eight days. And that was, I don’t think I ate a single meal on the ground. It was hilarious.

And in all time and all those people that I saw, a lot of the time I spent talking to them about the importance and the growing power of modern channels. So we’ve talked a little bit about modern channels. But just as a quick recap, modern channels are the conversational media that have been invented in the 21st century. So it would include social platforms, but it also includes forums, that includes blogs, it includes review sites, very important, live chat, all that sort of 21st century, conversational technology, which is quickly supplanting the broadcast technology, the 20th century. Not going away. But broadcast is becoming less and less legit, as people prefer the honesty of real conversation. And so most customers have moved there already. And there’s always a bit of a lag, and companies are beginning to move there as well.

So, you know, I spent a lot of time talking about that. Spent a lot of time showing them Mary Meeker charts that would show the preference of business contact channels and how that was shifting in generation, Y, and Z. And quite frankly, even in Generation X, the significant shift to preferring social, SMS, online, etc, versus phone. And a lot of work went into that.

I’m back spending some time with customers right now. I’ve been doing that for a couple months. And really interesting that I don’t have that discussion anymore. It’s a completely different discussion now. I’m basically getting zero pushback on modern channels are going to be a thing one day, which is great, because it is kind of obvious at this point. And it is a little disconcerting at times when people are saying things like really, is that going to be a big deal? Like, come on, we got to like, kind of get with it, right?

But it’s a new problem. And it’s a pretty significant one. And the new problem is… I’ve got to do this massive digital transformation. My company is divided into silos. And that word silos is a little tired. And you hear it a lot, right? So probably a bunch of you just rolled your eyes when I said that. But let me just stay with it for a second. So it’s not so much the silos, its budgets, right? It’s companies are divided into a bunch of separate budgets. And those budgets are controlled by somebody. And that control is power. And so people are reluctant to give up their budget and to give up their headcount, because that has them lose power and lose kingdom. And it’s important to maintain that.

I actually saw a really amazing lecture through the University Club in New York City on Robert Moses last night, and talked a lot about how Robert Moses maintained power over five decades, and is really the architect of much of New York City and almost all of Long Island, and particularly the bridges, the roads and many of the developments with probably one of his crowning achievements being the 1964-65 World’s Fair, but also things like the Lincoln Center.

And so the way that he maintained power is he had himself set up as the single controller of tolls across the Triborough Bridge. And so all the revenue from the Triborough Bridge flowed into a budget that could be just controlled by him. And that was part of the actual legislation that was put in place in Albany when they were agreeing to build the Triborough Bridge. And he was able to use that budget and those funds to fund things to raise bonds and for the amount of significant influence across the city for a very, very long time. So people understand that money is power, and very, very hard to get money to flow — even for the good of the company — to flow from one budget to another, and very hard to get headcount to flow from one group to another.

And so those… quotation marks… silos are really what we’re dealing with. And so the question I get from people is, how do I get started? Because what has to happen is money that is locked in other groups who are doing things more traditionally, needs to be loosened up and moved into groups that are doing things non traditionally. We need to digitally transform, we need to do less television advertising and more online advertising. We need to do less voice agents for care, and more WhatsApp agents for care. Those are the kinds of transitions that need to occur. But you know, nobody’s giving up their headcount, no one’s giving up their budget.

And so I just want to share a couple of ideas on how to get going on that. And we’re going to talk about this a lot over the next year. And we’re going to have a bunch of guests on that I’ll talk to it. Some people have very successfully navigated it, I actually did a webinar with Lubomira, at L’Oreal about two months ago. And she’s done a really amazing job of driving this digital transformation at L’Oreal. They’ve got an incredible vision, which is to respond to 100% of customer comments about them or to them. Which is amazing, an amazing vision for where we’re going in the world. And I think that is leading edge. But that will be common in 10 years.

So anyway, so what do we do? So let me give you three quick ideas today. So the first thing, and I think this is the most critical thing, is that all stakeholders have to be engaged. If it becomes a centralized power grab, or your budget goes into my budget, that’s not going to work in the long run, it’s going to be pure sabotage on the project, because people will want it to fail, because the project is causing them harm. So you need a broad stakeholder engagement. I think the best way to do this is actually with a systems integrator, like Accenture, or Deloitte, or BCG or others like that. There’s a lot of power in bringing in a third party like that, to drive the change because they can be ignorant of the politics and talk about what’s best for the company. But they can also drive a process where they’re engaging all the stakeholders together.

We have a framework at Sprinklr called the digital customer first transformation system, DCFTS if you’re following acronyms. And DCFTS is a set of things that we learned over the thousand integrations we’ve done with Fortune 1000 companies that talk to how to think through your maturity models, think through your ROI models, think through your integration landscape, and work all of the different parts of the organization along the maturity curve, to get to where you want to get to. Because it’s very exhaustive, we do a lot of workshops where we identify the parts of it that are applicable to a particular organization. And we love doing this with our SI partners.

So that’s tip number one is don’t be the the one person. Bring in an SI, and have a framework. It’s a little bit like total quality management, or any kind of Six Sigma transformation. There’s usually a group that drives it. But typically consultants in the SI field are leading it so that the whole company can get behind it.

The second thing is provide value for everybody. There’s a maxim that you know, customers first. Very few companies would say the customer’s last. Very few companies say, We don’t care about the customer, no one says that. It’s often true in terms of the way they operate. But no one says that. People always nod to the customer as being the source of controlling power in the company. So talk to different groups, and find out what they need to know about the customer.

For example, classically, marketing is the organization that looks at customers as customer insights and publishes customer studies. But what about product, the product teams must need to know about the customer. And some company’s product teams are highly dependent on customer insight. Talk to them, find out what they need to know as well and create a single customer insight system. And what’s amazing about modern channels today is they’re essentially the world’s largest focus group. It’s unsolicited feedback from people who are saying honest things. And if you pull it all in, you get a very good picture, which you should and shouldn’t be doing. And then provide that value to everybody. So people start to be able to go to management with a customer centric point of view, which is where management is going to be excited to see people executing as a strategy that makes sense for the company and gives everyone a common set of talking points and a common data set.

And then the third thing is, start putting numbers against it. It’s not that hard to start looking at what other people have done, and your own opportunities and start saying, here’s our revenue opportunity, if we were to engage customers in these channels, here’s our cost savings opportunity if we were to use these channels instead of voice to do customer care, and put an actual number in a roadmap against it, so that people feel like there’s a way for them to achieve their own business goals. And then break down that number by business group. So with each budget, make sure that each budget owner understands their upside, by being able to switch to a new system. Makes a big difference, helps bring them on board and you’ll learn a lot as they tell you about their business.

So just a couple quick thoughts. We’re going to be talking to lots of people about how they’ve done it. I’ll talk a little bit about some of the experiences that I’ve had as well. And for today, that’s it. Thank you for listening to the CXM Experience and we will be back tomorrow.

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