Salesforce’s Bova: Win the Customer Experience Battle

Customer Experience

GTDC SUMMIT — Disruption is everywhere. And while there are different definitions of what disruption is, one thing is clear — the battleground is customer experience.

In fact, the customer is by far more disruptive than technology, So says Tiffani Bova, global growth and sales evangelist, Salesforce.

Gartner's Tiffani Bova

Salesforce’s Tiffani Bova

Customers remember the service a lot longer than they remember the price,” Bova told the audience on day two of the Global Technology Distribution Council (GTDC) Summit in San Francisco on Thursday. In a session – “The [C]X Factor, Why You Should Care” – she talked about how companies around the globe are focusing their efforts on delivering unique experiences to their customers and why, in today’s digital era, those who aren’t able to unlock the value of technologies such as AI and automation – and pivot toward a more collaborative solution set – face an uncertain future.

Distributor enablement is about improving the partner experience, but even that doesn’t go far enough — it has to reach the end-user customer. Why, after all, do we develop the technologies we do? The customer.

Case in point: Ford recently partnered with Amazon and Starbucks to prioritize the personal experience over the technology experience. Soon, you’ll be able to be in your car and have your car say to you, “It’s two o’clock, time for a coffee.” “Great,” you say, “where’s the closest Starbucks?” Car: “I’ll take you there.” Picking up your coffee at the drive-thru, you won’t need your app because your car is your wallet.

At the end of the day, the customer feels like they’ve had a great experience in their car and are less concerned about who delivered it — was it Ford, Amazon or Starbucks?

Bova turned her attention to the retail industry. It’s not dead. Bad retail is dead and smart retail is growing. After all, Jeff Bezos bought Whole Foods, cut prices on day one and put the Amazon Echo and Echo Dot – the company’s voice-activated home assistants – on sale in the stores. Think ordering groceries, valuable data, intelligence — what’s next, what’s coming?

“You guys in the room are the ones that power those experiences. But we power them in silos, not collectively. We build solutions but we build them from a technology perspective and not always how they’re being used from a customer perspective,” she said.

The message for attendees: Time to pivot toward the customer experience, toward analytics-driven businesses — or the smart side of the things you’re currently doing. It’s also time to re-imagine the people that you’re partnering with because there’s already a lot of partnering going on when putting together a technology solution.

“This isn’t so much about business-model disruption as much as mindset disruption,” Bova said. The industry has to move away from fear of disintermediation because the disconnection between partners is hurting business — and hurting the customer. What’s needed is more sharing of information to give the customer the experience they want.

On stage with Bova were Chris Richardson, assistant vice president at Arizona State University, and Jeff Frey, executive in residence at Houston Technology Center — each at the top of the tech innovation curve delivering a better customer experience.

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