This was my first year attending the Connections Conference. Connections is the digital marketing, commerce, and customer service event of the year for Salesforce. Held in Chicago, it was packed with breakout sessions, keynotes, customer success expo and so much more. As with any Salesforce event, it is never hard to fill your days. It is hard though to choose what to do! Some of my key experiences and nuggets are:
1. Service Cloud Keynote - Transformational Service: the overriding message of the keynote. I know that some attendees “pooh pooh” keynotes, however, seeing the innovation and real examples of how Salesforce is used across a wide range of businesses never ceases to amaze me.
How does Salesforce define “Transformational Service?” It is comprised of these 4 pillars: connected, intelligent, personalized, and scalable. Ok - here it gets a little lengthy, but bear with me, there are other great nuggets to follow.
A. Connected - All about knowing your customer and connecting all your systems (Sales, Service, Marketing, Commerce, and any back end system(s)) so that you have a unified view of the customer.
Sarah Patterson talked about an experience where she returned an item purchased for her husband at Christmas (has still not heard about the return) but she received marketing material from this company based on her purchase. What a disconnected experience! It was announced that through Service for Commerce, agents can now view products in shopping cart, view previous purchases, and even order on the customers behalf.
B. Intelligent - “Do you have an AI strategy? Do you know what problems it will solve?” were questions asked.
According to an MIT study - 80% of Executives think AI is a strategic opportunity, however only 25% have an AI strategy. Using AI to help answer those simple questions for your business will allow your agents to focus on the more complex questions. Salesforce solutions include Einstein Self Service, Bots, Einstein assisted Case Classification, Recommended Knowledge Articles, and Einstein Discovery can be used to help predict CSAT and Life-time value. There was a great demo of “Door Dash” using an Einstein Bot on a mobile device, implemented with Snap-ins product and one line of code. The demo included Einstein (acting as the Live-Agent) asking structured questions, before transferring to a live agent.
C. Personalized - Knowing your customer no matter what channel they use and delivering the right message, at the right time, to the right customer.
This was all about using messaging capabilities from your phone specifically Apple Business Chat. Marriott has been working with Apple to develop this product and Salesforce is the only CRM company working with Apple on this initiative. There was a demo showing messaging capabilities with Marriott.
An interesting statistic was that 40% - 50% of customers will use messaging if offered! Huge impact. The messaging is asynchronous, so while viewing Salesforce Lightning Service Console, the service agent is able to handle multiple messages at one time (7-10), making agents more productive.
D. Scalability - Announced Service Cloud Essentials. Allows every business to help them modernize their service business.
2. Salesforce Marketing Cloud and Google Analytics 360: Enhancing the strategic partnership already in place between Salesforce and Google, new integrations with Salesforce Marketing Cloud and Google Analytics 360 will be available for Beta release in the third quarter this year (Safe Harbor!). AND will not require IT assistance to set-up and install!
3. Nonprofit Cloud: Salesforce.org is now the Nonprofit Cloud, a melding of Salesforce.org and other key Salesforce.com products, with three key enhancements GA this winter (again, Safe Harbor):
A. Data Storage Optimizer - gives the ability to access archived data to run reports
B. Lightning Batch Gift Entry - using Batch Data Import engine to quickly import Gift data
C. Batch Data Import - utilizes matching logic and customizable capabilities
4. “Exploring what really counts at your company, will help you build a strong CRM strategy” - Mike Gerholdt
Key points to look at:
- Company mission, values and competition
- Leadership goals and measures
- How customers engage
- How users succeed and get paid
5. Inspirational: I was not disappointed. Three key speakers in three separate sessions inspired, motivated, and challenged me.
A. Kerry Washington’s Women’s Equality Keynote - “You have to be willing to collect your ‘No’s’ to get to your ‘Yes’s’”. Kerry spoke that inclusivity must be extended to “everyone and everyone should have access to tech.”
B. Lucy Liu discussed adversity and stereotyping. She discussed the work ethic instilled at a very early age, the impact of racial stereotypes and how she has used these experiences to connect and coordinate with others.
C. Finally, Adrian Grenier spoke about focusing on change through small movements. He is currently focused on reducing the use of plastic drinking straws and his session concluded by all standing up and pledging “Stop Sucking!”