Q & A with Darren Pleasance – Director of Global Customer Acquisitions, Google
Darren Plesance, Director of Global Customer Acquisitions at Google, will be keynoting at SOCAP’s 2015 Annual Conference, October 18-21 in Hollywood, Florida.
Q: The focus of SOCAP’s 2015 Annual Conference will be Customer Engagement—Today and Tomorrow. From your perspective at Google, what do you see as the key elements to effective customer engagement?
A: At Google, we look at the concept of “customer engagement” across the full lifecycle of a customer, starting from when they’re not even at customer at all. We’ve been working hard to optimize how we engage with customers from the first outreach as a potential customer, through the multi-month sales/education cycle, through early onboarding as a new customer, on into account management and growth with Google over time. Our goal is to educate and inspire our customers on the power of Google’s services to help them grow their business and improve the ROI on the investments they make.
To deliver a great customer experience across this lifecycle requires tight coordination between our marketing, sales, service, and engineering teams in ways that most companies have struggled to achieve. The handoffs have to be seamless, the insights we collect that inform how best to engage has to be done at scale, and our ability to “recover” well when we screw up requires strong systems as well as a culture of “do the right thing” that becomes quite challenging the larger a company gets. I think we’re doing a pretty good job at all of this now, though as is always the case, there’s certainly a lot more that we plan on doing as we look to the future.
I think Google’s biggest areas of distinctiveness on this topic are:
- “Lifecycle” view on customer engagement, from Prospect to High Value Customer
- Cross-org collaboration; many companies operate very siloed and we’ve broken a lot of those down with teams working together across the full lifecycle
- Engagement at scale: we use data and real-time signals to help guide our teams on how best to engage with a customer so that we deliver the best customer experience we can with the finite resources we’ve got
Q: What will be the one gamer changer for customer engagement in the future?
A: Big data and machine learning that allows companies to deliver a tailored and timely interaction with a customer that feels very personal and informed, while doing this at scale across millions of customers, through thousands of employees
Q: Please share one “off the resume” fact about yourself.
A: I used to fly for John Travolta and was also an Alaska Bush pilot in my early 20’s
Why Your Customer Experience Efforts Are Failing And What To Do About It
The customer experience bandwagon is picking up riders at a breakneck pace. These days everywhere you turn—blogs, white papers, videos, or other media—someone is talking about how to improve customer interactions to keep them engaged with brands and prevent them from switching allegiance to competitors.
However, creating a great customer experience is easier said than done in the contact center world. Consumer preferences evolve quickly, making it difficult to even really define what a great experience is and even harder to produce it. In the past, all you needed was a well-run call center and knowledgeable, friendly staff. Now, you need so much more.
Today’s consumers are more discerning and more demanding. They’ve become accustomed to connecting with friends and family over a variety of communications channels and expect to be able to do the same with their service providers. They require personalized attention and rapid resolution to their issues, and want instant, seamless, two-way communications with a live person using the technologies and devices that suit their lifestyle.
And more importantly, they want the freedom and flexibility to engage with sales and support teams at their convenience—24/7, across any communications channel, from anywhere in the world.
If your team can’t answer their questions and meet their needs, they’ll go find one that can. As a result, forward-thinking businesses need to seriously consider adopting new programs and strategies to connect with customers on the platforms and devices they prefer or risk them jumping ship to a competitor.
Bridging Gaps with Omni-channel Solutions
Historically, contact centers have relied on the good old telephone to support customer needs. But calling into a central customer support pool for help has been supplanted by other communications methods like email, social media, text, video, and live chat.
Different cross sections of your consumer base will prefer different modes of communication and your center needs to be prepared to handle that. For example, older customers may still prefer to call in and speak with a representative by phone when they have an issue. Meanwhile, Millennials often prefer texting or chatting to talking, and busy professionals sitting at their desk may opt for email because of the convenience and not wanting to interrupt the office vibe.
Many contact center leaders are realizing that offering one service, but not others is a recipe for losing customer trust and business. They try to catch up with consumer trends and by dedicating large portions of their operating budgets to purchase individual platforms to accommodate evolving customer preferences.
But unless you’ve staffed your center with specific teams trained to address each channel on every platform, you’re likely going to face some communications gaps that will not only produce a subpar customer experience, it may very well drive your customer elsewhere. Fortunately, there’s a better way.
Omni-channel contact center solutions can give you and your customer the best of all worlds. The integrated, cloud-based solutions close communications gaps by providing an all-in-one platform that combines:
- Social Media
These solutions are intuitive and easy to deploy with little training. More importantly, they enable employees to engage with customers when, where, and how the customer prefers from a single dashboard.
The result: a measurably better experience without having to add significant headcount or complexity to the center’s operations.
Give ‘Em What They Want
Customers are hard to earn and easy to lose. They’re really easy to lose when their needs aren’t met or when they have a less than great experience. As a contact center leader, you have a responsibility both to your business and to your customers. And if you’re not providing the right communications tools at the right time, you may very well be failing both.
Omni-channel platforms offer the best chance for your contact center to keep up with the changing demands of your customer base. When you can give customers what they want, when and how they want it, you can build longer, stronger relationships that result in higher customer satisfaction and revenues.
Darren Prine is a passionate advocate for great customer care and omnichannel communications. He is a Senior Sales Executive for Bright Pattern and resides in Murrieta, CA.
Perspectives in Customer Experience for the Canadian Consumer
The SOCAP Canada Community was proud to host its third annual event in the city of Montreal, QC Canada on May 28, 2015 at the Hotel Omni Mont-Royal. The meeting entitled, "Perspectives in Customer Experience for the Canadian Consumer" had representatives from three great SOCAP member companies and brands, The Clorox Company, L'Oreal and Sheraton (Starwood Hotels & Resorts) that enlightened the attendees with their particular perspectives from Consumer Packaged Goods, The World of Beauty and the Hospitality Industries.
Some of the topics covered included:
- How knowledge/content management can be used more effectively to ensure great customer experience
- The role of Social Media and the impact on consumer engagement and satisfaction
- The use of Six Sigma to identify, prioritize and address opportunities for operational improvement and ultimately reduce some of the most common guest complaints affecting satisfaction
Attached below are the presentations offered by our speakers.