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Episode #136: How to Use Data to Influence Change, with Nick Nunes

Grad Conn

June 18, 2021  •  24 min read

You can be the smartest person out there. But if you don’t have stakeholder management skills, it’s going to be tough for you to affect real change. Nick Nunes is back for part 2 of our discussion about the power of data, and how to use it to influence your organizations.

Nick Nunes is a classically-trained PR strategist and marketer who found his true calling in the digital world. Follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/NickNCanada or LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/nicknunes/

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PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Grad 
Oh, yeah, boy, Jimmy. All right, we’re back. Yes, we are back with Nick Nunes. He’s the Social Media Director at BMO and welcome to the Unified CXM Experience. I am, as always, Grad Conn, CXO or Chief Experience Officer at Sprinklr, talking with Nick about all things CXM. And we’re having a wide-ranging conversation, I mostly used the first episode yesterday to unload on Whirlpool and Best Buy, feeling a little guilty about that, so we’re going to sort of switch gears a little bit. I’m not apologizing. By the way, I’m just saying I feel guilty for wasting Nick’s time. So, we’re going to switch gears a bit, and we’re going to start focusing on some of the future looking scenarios and CXM. Nick’s got some great ideas about where we’re heading. We’re going to talk about that. And just have a bunch of fun on thinking about the future, and where we’re all heading. So, Nick, let’s go.

Nick Nunes 
You’ve got it.

Grad 
I’m increasingly noticing a little sort of surprising experiences that are delightful across a broad set of organizations. I was actually at a Container Store. I’m a Container Store fanatic. It’s like one of the great things about moving to the United States. I mean, I walk into the Container Store when I was living in Seattle, my local Container Store, I’d walk in, they would just say, “Hi Grad, let’s get you a cup of cards”. And I don’t know if I’m their top customer, but I got to be near the top. I have got unending amounts of Alpha and literally hundreds and hundreds of plastic boxes, each with a little label on it. I’m actually going through an office reorganization right now. So, you can see I’ve got my watch box, optical cable box, USB cables, pet insurance box, lease, ring insurance, banking, my dog, my car, so I have boxes for everything. And my favorite box and when I finally get this box up and running in a new home, the box I know that signals I’m starting to turn the corner on getting organized is my button box. I’ve got one box just for buttons. If you say, “Grad, I need a button”, I can get you a button. I know how to find you a button. Yeah. So anyway, so Container Store. I love Container Store. I had a weird experience where I ordered some stuff online and it arrived and part of it was damaged. It was very unusual. And so, I went into the store, and I said “Hey, this piece arrived quite damaged. Actually, unusably damaged”. And they’re like, “just hang on a sec”. And I didn’t have a receipt, I just stood there with this big broken piece of metal in my hands, right. And they were back 10 seconds later, well more than 10 seconds, but really fast, came back and they came back with a wrapped brand-new set of these things. They opened the whole set. And they ruffled through and there were some damaged ones in there too which was interesting, but they got me a pristine version of it. And they just gave it to me said, “there you go”. And I was like, “do I have to sign anything”? And they said, “No, it’s okay”. And I was like, “Okay, well, that’s kind of awesome”. And off I went. So, it’s kind of a very delightful experience. Just take care of it. Who knows where I got that piece from? Right? So, very interesting.

Nick Nunes 
The opposite of the experience you had with the furniture thing that the umbrella you mentioned on a past podcast.

Grad 
Oh, you listened to that episode, did you?

Nick Nunes 
I sure did. I found it hilarious.

Grad 
Room To Go has continued to not cover themselves in glory. Oh, man, oh, man. I’m still waiting for the cover for the fire pit. That has not arrived. And, oh boy, I had to spend $800 to fix the decking that they ruined with the day bed. But anyway, that continues to be a burn myself, I will say it’s just one of those things where I’m just getting tired of the having to buy a thing and then having to do all this extra work after I buy the thing. Can I just buy the thing and have it just be put in place normally and be done with it? But anyway, let’s keep going in this. So, let’s say people are listening, we’re getting to have a reasonable listenership here. And how do I start? Let’s say you’re in marketing. Let’s say you’re maybe the CMO, maybe not the CMO, maybe you’re the Senior Director or something like that. You’re an influencer, you’re an important part of the org, you get the idea that this customer service breakdown is causing marketing problems. It’s a lot harder to sell stuff when people are screaming with anger. How do you start to influence inside the organization to get it fixed? How would you go about starting to get your hands wrapped around this customer service issue?

Nick Nunes 
So, couple things, one, data. I think data is something you absolutely need, and it needs to be captured and categorized accordingly. So ideally, you’re using some sort of digital engagement system, or a couple of different digital engagement systems and a traditional engagement system to actually pull all that data together, ideally, you have a singular backbone if you’re able to get there. Sprinklr is a great one for that. I think unpacking all of the things that you’re seeing from the data, and perhaps even proactively validating those things through things like surveys and callbacks and that type of thing are also very important to go down the path of, I think the second piece is partnerships. If you’re sitting in marketing, you need strong partnerships with care, you need strong partnerships with product development, you need strong partnerships in other pieces of the organization to really make that work in a siloed organization. And I think one of the skill sets that’s often not talked about as much as it probably should be, from an enterprise perspective, from a large company perspective is navigating stakeholder relationships internally is crucial to your success, you can be the smartest person out there. But if you don’t have stakeholder management skills, it’s going to be very tough for you to affect real change.

Grad 
There’s not really a lot of training in that area. You know, companies don’t really teach that. It’s actually interesting. Like, you’re absolutely right, those are two amazing suggestions. And I’m just going to do a quick shout out to my producer, Randy. Randy, you know, just following up on what Nick said, I think we should do a series of shows on the whole data piece because Nick’s exactly right. The only way to influence the organization is to show data, you can’t just like start to complain, right? You’ve got to go, ‘Hey, this is what I’m seeing from a numeric standpoint, and how do you make that happen?’ And the second thing is stakeholder management in partnership creation as a skill set. Who’s teaching that? Let’s look into that a little bit. Because you know, Nick, in organizations, they teach you all sorts of stuff, but they don’t teach you how they go with each other, which is amazing when you think about it.

Nick Nunes 
You’d think it’d be job one.

Grad 
Yeah, yeah. All right. This is an awesome conversation. Let me switch gears a little bit to an old hobby horse of mine. And this is something I literally learned and did a fair amount of at Procter and Gamble which was where I started my career. But I continue to be sort of puzzled as to why people don’t do this more, as well as another one of my general puzzlements about what’s going on out there. And this whole idea is life stage and life cycle marketing. So, give me like two minutes here, we’re going to talk about a new Forrester study or not exactly a new study; it’s been around for a few years. But there’s a Forrester study that talks about marketing, from the standpoint of customer intimacy, and data intensity. So, imagine the y axis is data intensity, so from low to high, and then the x axis is customer intimacy, from low to high. And so, at the low low end, low intimacy, and low data, it would be mass marketing; makes total sense, right? So, you’re targeting broad customer groups with reach and frequency vehicles, very sloppy, very easy. And that’s sort of what a lot of people are still doing. The next level up is what they call event triggered. And so, this would be where a company is sending outbound messages in response to specific customer actions, like a website visit or a shopping cart abandonment, or a customer service call. And I would say, most people have gotten pretty good at event triggered marketing. So, little more data required, got to know you did this thing. And the customer intimacy is higher, because I’m talking to the customer on something that they did. So, they know that I’m looking at them and watching them. The next level is where I’m not seeing people do very much work, which is called life stage marketing. So, this is where you target a segment of customers when they’re experiencing a life event, such as you know, a new baby, a new home, retirement, and I’m getting engaged, I’m getting married, all that kind of stuff. And that, to me is surprising, because especially with modern channels, because those particular life events are kind of the thing people talk about on modern channels. And it’s very rich, there’s this super rich vein of information, it used to be maybe a little harder to discern before we had modern channels. But everyone broadcasts this stuff now. I’ve just actually gotten engaged about six months ago, and I have had, I’d say 0% marketing because of that. I haven’t had a single thing sent to me. And I had been targeted zero times and I’m very public with it, it’s my profile picture on Facebook – we’re engaged. And so, my eyes are sort of squinting a little bit of like, why is that not something people are doing? Then the fourth stage, which is even more sophisticated, like a lot of data required, a lot of intimacy, is what they call lifecycle marketing. And this is where the individual customers are targeted based on previous engagements with the company and expected future needs and so you start to model someone’s behavior and purchase patterns and then see where they’re going. And again, in financial services, that’s another thing where you see someone young getting close to paying off their mortgage or you have had a loan for three years on that car meaning that car’s probably about to be traded in and a new car is about to be purchased. And again, I don’t know how many car loans I’ve had over the years, not so many lately, but when I’ve had car loans, I never had anyone start marketing to me, when the car loans started to mature, they just would get paid off. And then no one would say anything. But typically, I would be buying another car right away. And so, talk to me a little bit about this sort of phenomenon. Where do you think industries are generally on life stage and lifecycle marketing? What do you think’s holding people back? And what advice would you give people who are thinking, yeah, I probably should get after that.

Nick Nunes 
Part of it is probably a technology challenge. Right. So, if you really start to look at enterprise organizations, particularly ones around point solutions, and if I take Social as just one example where we could go down the rabbit hole here, there are social platforms that allow you to buy advertisements based on what people say or search for. So that is a possibility. Usually, it is. You purchase that ad on that platform through that platform directly. The challenge here is you’re not doing that necessarily, practically, you’re just kind of saying I want to see everyone who is getting married and searching for it. Interest is an interesting platform because it’s very much kind of like it is aspirational platform. And you can kind of use it to get ahead of those lifestyle events based on what folks are searching for. Otherwise, Grad, in your example, you may have seen those things advertised to you if you had explicitly searched for those things on Social. But if you haven’t, you’re probably not getting retargeted from those websites through pixels and that type of thing. So, you’re not seeing it. But I think the very interesting use case, and I think what you’re trying to kind of scratch at here as an opportunity is if they’re explicitly talking about these things on Social, right, like having the technology in place to sort of quote unquote, listen or discover that. And then have the technology also in place to have that automatically trigger the addition of your account to a custom audience marketing campaign list that is triggered according to lifestyle stage or according to need, right. And ideally, you’re also excluding your existing customer base or including it depending on what that customer need is. And the technology is there today. I don’t see many folks that are there from an organizational perspective just yet, but the opportunity is massive, particularly with the use cases you’ve mentioned, like buying a car. A great example that we were talking about in our prep session is the interesting interaction you had on Twitter with car companies. You literally put out and tagged car companies, I’m buying one, and to see how they engage with you. If those of you who don’t follow Grad on Twitter, please do have a look at that. Because it’s a very interesting case study.

Grad 
I’m going to eventually get a complex. You realize that, right? This constantly being ignored by companies or being like, being dumped on with customer experiences. It’s not good for my psyche. Like I’m going to start to get jittery every time I buy something. But you know that car one was really weird. The fact that seven out of ten car companies I @ mentioned, @ mentioned, I made it super easy for them didn’t even bother responding to me. It’s like, wow, that’s feedback. I was good for it. I actually did buy a car. And a very nice one. I bought a Volvo XC 90. I’ve never owned a Volvo before. And it is a fantastic car, I would say that the Volvo XC 90 is huge, but doesn’t drive huge. It’s like a three-row car. So, it seats seven, but it doesn’t feel like you’re driving a tank. The second thing is the UI inside particularly their main screen, very Tesla like, extremely easy to use to the point where I sort of love the UI of the car so much that I’m thinking of getting a second car. And I’m wondering why I wouldn’t buy a Volvo again. Why torment myself with a different UI? And also, car to car, what they do, they maintain the UI between the cars. So, I’ll probably get a sedan or something smaller. And so, if I go in the, I think it’s called an S 60 or an S 90. So, if I go into the S and then I go into the XC, my user experience is identical between the two cars, I’ll know where everything is and stuff. So that’s pretty cool. I enjoy that. And then the third thing is that it is an absolute rocket. They’ve got this function where they sort of slip you into this sort of extra programming gear and the car is just unbelievably fast. And so it’s been really fun to drive here in Florida. They don’t seem to have speed limit I don’t think. I think if there is a speed limit, I’m not aware of it. Let’s just come back to this. So what we did Procter and Gamble was a little crude. But this is a long time ago, too. But we knew this, we knew that when people bought a new dishwasher, they were often switching homes, people obviously replace dishwashers, but not as much as you’d think. Most dishwashers are pretty reliable devices, they don’t really break very often, I don’t know about you, but I’ve never replaced an existing dishwasher I’ve owned. But I’ve purchased new ones for new homes, so knowing that what we know is that when people are buying a new home, or moving into a new neighborhood, or maybe changing neighborhoods, etc., they have a tendency to change brand preferences. It’s when people are vulnerable to brand preference change. And as people get older, they don’t tend to change their brand preferences. You want to get people when they’re younger and thinking through what they should be using. And so we sampled Cascade, and a whole ton of dishwasher brands. And that Cascade sampling program was unbelievably successful because it set a brand preference right out of the gate. And then we did same thing with diapers. There’s a really interesting company that created a new mother gift pack. And they would deliver these new mother gift packs to new moms, in the hospitals. And so Pampers owned that slot for decades. And so the first diapering occasions that you were doing with your baby were with Pampers, and if you had kids, you know, you don’t really tend to want to mess around with something that’s working particularly in that department. And that would then tend to create brand preference as well. So those were sampling programs. And they were based on some sort of heuristic understanding. These days, it does feel like it’s so much easier to know that someone’s had a child and to get after them in a positive way and congratulate them. And I’d love to see more of that out there. So we’ll see who does it and see where it goes. So let’s talk a little bit, I know I’m going a little bit long in time here, so I appreciate your time here. But I’d love to talk a little bit about COVID impact. And I’ve not spent a ton of time on COVID on the show, just because it seems a little obvious. But we do appear, knock on wood, to be emerging from it. And very cautious about saying that, I probably just ruined everything. But let’s say we continue to move out of it. And move into sort of a post-pandemic years and post-pandemic phase. As you look back over the last year and a half, what lessons do you take from it? And how do you think we’re permanently changed because of what we went through over the, on a global basis, over the last 18 months?

Nick Nunes 
So I would say that digitization of everything is something that has been a real challenge for brands and has been a learning curve for some segments of the population. But I don’t think we’re going to go back; I think we will regress a little bit in the amount that we’re using digitized products across every industry. But I don’t think we’re going to go back to where we were, I think we’re going to keep a massive amount of what was gained from a digital adoption perspective. I also think organizations use COVID as the sort of impetus to digitize their operations and think differently about how they service and sell to customers. And I think they were forced to expedite those plans significantly. I know from a financial services perspective, it was a requirement, you had to move quickly, you had to think about how you do what you had originally planned in three to five years in sort of 30 to 50 days or at the most three to five months. It was an interesting time; it created a lot of opportunity. And it also forced a lot of those sort of political decision-making processes for a lot of organizations to be expedited. And it also evened out hierarchies and a whole bunch of other things. You know, I’ve had some very interesting conversations with my peers across Canadian banks, across telcos, the experiences they’ve had have been fantastic, and just getting stuff done during COVID. So it really has been a catalyst. And then the other piece is, I think, selfishly, if you are in social or digital, what a tremendous opportunity for you to have a real impact. Real impact beyond the usual pace of improving impact you’ve probably had just by virtue of being in social or digital and the prominence it’s gaining pre-pandemic. So for example, social intelligence, social listening and intelligence has never been more important than banking, and probably never been used as much as it was in COVID. Understanding what customers needed up to that moment and finding a way to deliver it in that moment, arguably not ever more important in history.

Grad 
Well, you know, I was talking to one of our large hotel customers, all the major hotel chains are Sprinklr customers. What was super interesting or two super interesting things about them: one is, they laid off, in some cases, more than 90% of their staff, and closed tons of properties. It was a very challenging business situation for them obviously, but what was interesting is they didn’t cancel their Sprinklr contracts. And then in many cases, they doubled down. Because, exactly what you just said, they realized that these channels were the way, they were going to emerge at some point. And the way to emerge is, through modern channels. There’s a really great McKinsey study on how hotel chains and travel companies and airlines are emerging in China, China’s mostly returned to pre-pandemic spend. But the spending patterns changed. And a lot of these brands are using communities and influencers and a lot of other tools that were available to them pre-pandemic, but they didn’t really leverage and now they’re leveraging that as they fight for market share, because there is a change in the composition in that it’s more leisure travel than business travel. And we don’t know when business travel will return. And so the competition’s a little more fierce, which is interesting. You said something a minute ago, which I really responded to, which is I was talking to this hotel customer and the senior team, we were having a great meeting, we were having this conversation, and they said what was been kind of fun and interesting is that with a much, much smaller team, they have been able to get way more done, because they’ve not been having to plow through the levels, and all the normal obstacles you see in a large organization. And that’s a pretty interesting ‘aha’; it’ll be really fascinating to see if organizations return to the same staffing levels they have pre-pandemic, because I think a lot of them found that maybe we had a few too many people. And it was really hard to get stuff done because of that.

Nick Nunes 
I think when it comes to expediting decisions, there’s really nothing like a crisis or a pandemic, to show large scale enterprises, how they can really get to end a job fast and who’s really needed for those decisions. And I think you’ve seen the evidence across many industries, just in the acceleration of what they’ve been able to do as a result of this. So it’ll be interesting to see what holds post-pandemic, like how is China experiencing – the folks in China, and the organizations in China – how are they experiencing that velocity of accomplishment within organizations? Is it holding? Is it regressing any? I think that’s going to be a lesson for the rest of us across the world as we kind of emerge a little bit as well.

Grad 
Well, I think we’ve seen this in productivity rates, initially, productivity actually jumped, when people were working from home and moved to 100% virtual, what we’re seeing now is the productivity is actually declining, as people are burning out and are too monotheistic in this communication technique. And so there’s declining productivity. And so companies are now running to try to get people back in the office again, at least in some kind of hybrid model. So yeah, you’re right, there’s going to be a lot of learning, it’s going to take a while to sort this all out. I do will say, though, there has been this great reset and great pause. And when humanity gets a chance to do that, we’ve shown ourselves to be pretty good at innovating, and leading in new directions. And I think we will look back on this period of time, partly with sadness, there’s been a lot of damage and death, that was in some cases avoidable and some, I say, behaviors by governments that weren’t particularly admirable. But I think we’ll also look back at some of the advantages that came from it. And some of the innovation that came from it, not the least of which is the mRNA vaccines, like the medical breakthrough in mRNA is extraordinary, they literally hold the cure to cancer. And so wouldn’t that be something that this pandemic leads to something that actually cures a much bigger problem that we have in society and creates a lot of good over the long term. So we’ll see. But you know, there’s an old expression, which is it’s a shame to waste a good crisis. I don’t know where that comes from. I’m pretty sure potentially not a good place. But nonetheless, you know, leveraging a crisis to try to get to another level or another gear can make a lot of sense. All right. So Nick, you’ve been incredibly generous with your time, and I have really enjoyed this conversation. Any last thoughts? I’m going to kind of wrap in a sec, but any last thoughts or any other things you’d want to sort of, you know, make a note of before we finish today’s conversation?

Nick Nunes 
No, Grad, I don’t think so. I am very grateful that you’ve had me on today and I am an avid CXM Experience listener. So to be a guest has been a true treat. Thank you, my friend.

Grad 
Great. Well, it’s been wonderful having you. Alright, so that is it for the Unified CXM Experience today. And Nick Nunes was my guest. He’s the Social Media Director at BMO, Bank of Montreal, and Nick, it’s been awesome. And for the Unified CXM Experience, I’m Grad Conn, CXO at Sprinklr and I will see you … next time.

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Grad Conn

Chief Experience Officer, Sprinklr

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