Connecting Interaction with Technology: Insights from Florida Dreamin’

Justin Birt

I recently had the opportunity to attend Salesforce’s Florida Dreamin’ event. It was the first in-person conference I’ve attended in several months and a great reminder of the impact face-to-face interaction has. One thing that was clear during the sessions I attended is that organizations are focused more than ever on providing a seamless experience for every interaction they have with customers, partners and employees.

The outstanding issue is that most organizations look at their current technology and formulate their experiences from that. Instead, they should be focusing on their ideal experience, and changing their processes, data and supporting technology to accommodate their vision. These are tips on how to address reinventing engagement with your audiences.

Experience Their Perspective and Get Their Feedback

First and foremost, organizations must understand their clients’ and partners’ experience. All too often I work with organizations that know they have issues with engagement but haven’t gone to the source for feedback. This is the single most valuable source of information to determine the path forward.  

Brainstorm Big

One of my favorite practices when working with companies is to take out all barriers of cost, technology, etc. and dream up the perfect scenario. I describe it this way: If I order something from Amazon, the ideal scenario for me is that somehow that package arrives on my doorstep in minutes. Whether it’s flown here by a drone, moved by a transport beam like in Star Trek, or some other way, instantly receiving that item is my ideal. Thinking in big, outlandish ways helps set the stage for change. While we might not be able to invent a transport beam (yet), it can help identify that our clients want better/faster fulfillment and as a company we need to focus on logistics.

Pull in Ideas from Other Industries

Don’t be pigeonholed into following your industry norms; dare to break out of them. My favorite clients to work with are those that want to break the mold because they had a great experience with a completely different organization. I once worked with a financial services institution where the client kept talking about a “pizza tracker” for managing loans. After further discussion I found out he was blown away when he ordered a pizza and through the company website was able to see when the cook was making it, when it went into the oven, when it would be done, etc. He used that as the foundation for the experience he wanted his clients to have. A great experience is a great experience, regardless of what industry it comes from.

Understand the Business Value and Know the Metrics

This is specifically important for those seeking internal project approval. Revamping interaction looks great on paper, but unless it brings value to the organization it’s never going to get done. In my experience, Executive teams are focused on four main areas. First, generate more revenue. It’s self-explanatory and a top priority for every CEO I’ve worked with. Make more money. Second is gaining efficiency. Doing more with less has a similar result as generating more revenue, and these are both focused on company profitability. The benefit of the latter is that it sets a better foundation for long-term growth and sustainability. Third is reducing attrition. Often this is overlooked because organizations are so focused on increasing revenue and generating more clients. Many companies need to stop the bleeding before they can grow. Last, is mitigating risk. This is also not often mentioned from a business stakeholder standpoint, but if there’s added value in reducing the company’s risk, every executive team will show interest.

Additionally, there must be a real-life metric attributed to any project. These numbers must be founded in some sort of research or experience. Knowing that an organization wants to grow by 70% doesn’t mean a single change will get you there. It’s important to rely on experienced partners that can give you realistic expectations on the outcomes these projects will have. Partners have worked with dozens, if not hundreds of clients and can help identify the ROI for the business.

Work Backwards and Fill the Gaps

Now that we’ve experienced what our clients have, know our ideal experience, and understand the value it brings to the company, it’s time to figure out how to get there. Every company I’ve worked with has had a sizable gap in their ideal experience and their current capabilities. First, we must understand what data we have that supports our vision. Once there we can strategize and roadmap the gaps to obtain what is needed. It’s also important to simultaneously identify a transformation roadmap. This starts with low effort, high impact changes and moves down the line to high effort, low impact changes. Some projects will have a massive impact, but also have a large effort required. Though they might appear to have that huge ROI, these aren’t a great place to start. Something with a medium impact but low level of effort shows faster business value and gets executive teams very excited. It’s also important to identify what technology is in place to support this vision. Often, legacy systems will have to be overhauled or replaced to support the new company direction. Identifying what can be built with what is currently implemented vs. what will require new solutions. If current systems can support the vision and position the organization for future success, these are definitely the place to start.

Every organization is focused on revamping how they do business. Those that fail to adapt will fail to exist. These are important steps every organization should address to ensure continued success in an ever-changing world of commerce.

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