How to add direct messaging to Salesforce – and make your staff and customers happy.

Jean
Shin

Director, Strategy & Content | Podcast Host of Mobile Interactions Now

19min Podcast
Episode 29 Guest: Tim Schuitemaker, CIO of Gen25

In this episode, we check in with Tim Schuitemaker, CIO of Gen25, an Amsterdam-based system integration company. We’ll be talking about why and how to enrich Salesforce capabilities with conversational communications. Delving into advanced features that Tim and his team built into the product Social25, Tim will help us get more out of Salesforce clouds by enabling sales and support staff to chat with buyers and customers directly from Salesforce.

Jean:

Tim, welcome to the show. Our conversation is happening when basically all companies are dealing with some kind of changes triggered by pandemic, and not just on the customer side, but also with the workforce. Now that we have you on the show, I would love to talk about some of the solutions that business have to come up with to really deal with some of the changes happening on both ends with their workforce, as well as their customers. Before I get totally lost in those conversations, I would love you to just talk a little more about what you do. We did a brief intro in the beginning, but I'm sure they would love to hear from you.


Tim:

Yeah. Well, thank you for having me, of course. My name is Tim Schuitemaker. It's a very Dutch name. I'm located in Amsterdam, and I'm part of a company called Gen25. We were built a product called Social25, which is used on a Salesforce platform to communicate to customers. Actually, the customers of our customers via various channels. That includes WhatsApp or SMS or Facebook Messenger, but many more. We see all kinds of use cases these days where people interact with their customers, and they interact via these channels and promote certain service. Or give them service support on these channels.


Jean:

I would say you're just the right person to talk about the topic of the day, because I was really curious about how some of the businesses are dealing with this. Especially I guess about 150k plus installbase of the companies who are using Salesforce, and if they are doing anything differently to really connect the buyers with their people.


Tim:

Yes. You see quite a lot of consumers using their mobile phone throughout the day, of course. And with their mobile phone they have all kinds of communication apps. They not only interact with their friends and family over these apps, but they're starting to interact through companies, especially. For example, WhatsApp is now becoming more a surface channel. Of course, as a company, you have to adapt to these trends, I would say.

You have to make sure that your company is ready to actually answer the questions that you will get on WhatsApp in the correct way, and of course doesn't increase a huge workload on top of your workforce. And make sure that they're still are able to answer all these questions. Of course, using these channels there are some advantages especially for the workforce. If you do a phone call with someone, you can only do a one-on-one conversation, but if you have WhatsApp conversation, you can have maybe multiple conversations at the same time. The workforce sort of divides their attention to multiple conversations, I would say. And that's the big difference. Which you, of course, should train your employees to make sure they're able to handle those kinds of changes.


Jean:

As a buyer, there is some sense of uncertainties that people are expressing these days, and that raises the need for getting more update. Or getting more communications so that it gives them the peace of mind. Are you seeing any of these things making changes on your end?


Tim:

Yeah. You see an increase in communication if that is what you're asking. Some people indeed are doing more from home, and ordering more via online channels, and therefore there's more delivery to their door in the end. Which means that there is a huge increase in requests on, "Where's my package? Has it already been delivered?" Those kind of questions. Of course, such an easy channel as WhatsApp is the way in which you quickly can communicate with a customer. Or with a company if you are the customer. You want to have your answer quick as well, because that's the way we communicate these days. Everything is quick, especially over these channels.


Jean:

Yeah. I'm one of them, guilty. Faster. Nothing is really fast enough that kind of mindset. I totally get into that.


Tim:

If you look at a platform such as Salesforce that combines all these different channels to a single application. And provides the employees to do sales and servicing from that application, they can hold a single knowledge base, I would say, on that application to make sure that they answer the same question in the same way. Of course, part of this can be automated as well, where you would say we put in a chatbot up front, and that looks into the knowledge base to see if there's actually the answer to a question that someone is asking. But going back to the employee side of things, people are now asking questions, not only via WhatsApp, but also via channels like email. If it does take too long, they pick up the phone. The worst thing that could happen from a company point of view is that you have three different questions coming in from the same person.

You have three people working on them, maybe three different employees of your company who answered different things, because it's the same question from the consumer point of view. That means that this customer has a really bad experience with your brand, with your company, because not only has this customer received three different answers to the same question, it also is not really efficient because you're spending a lot of time assigning three different employees to answer that question. You should be up to date with your information, and combining these different channels into a single system allows you to do that.


Jean:

That sounds like data that is required as well as some kind of a workflow that has to be orchestrated in a way. I mean, I'm seeing Salesforce starting to connect different clouds. It's not just a Salesforce, all the other CRM based, ERP based systems that start really connecting them. Is this the trend that you think will really move faster so that these things become more seamless? What do you see there?


Tim:

Yeah. Getting better insight into your customers should always be the focus of any company, I would say, because it allows you to do better servicing, which I just mentioned. It allows you to do better sales, because if you know what people are asking in terms of service, you can also provide them with better suggested products. It allows you to do better marketing, because you're creating an enriched profile of someone in products they interact with, questions they have. On top of that, you can do better marketing in the sense that you can send them content that is really specific to the questions, the way they interact with your brand currently.


Jean:

I really embrace this notion. Remember how customer service used to be basically answering questions, support, right? Dead end. Probably at best they might have some kind of feedback on the service quality. Given that companies are dealing with the whole pandemic situation, the cost structure of having that kind of a passive service center is really costly. I think it's turning into more of a revenue center and everybody is driving revenue growth together. But in practice, it seems there's still a challenge to connect those moments.


Tim:

Yeah. As you can see the conversations are focused around this and marketing is just, this is one of the channels where you do marketing, of course. What we see quite often is that when, what we call a case, a service question comes into the environment, you get the customer profile next to it. See, "Okay, how does this customer have interacted with us before? What kind of orders did they place in the past?" And based on that you can put some AI in place to say, "Okay, then these are suggested products." Throughout the conversation that this employee would have with this customer, they can promote these products. It shouldn't be that or marketing saying right in your face, "This is the product that you'd buy," to be more of a gradual thing that you put into a conversation. Of course, if you want to still, you can do marketing campaigns with these channels as well, where you would say, "Okay, we have a new product." If you can comply with all the rules that are behind using these channels as a marketing channel, then of course, that's perfectly possible as well.

You now get an email maybe saying, "Okay, we expect your package to be delivered at this day, at that time at that office." But, of course, the same notification can come into your WhatsApp, and everybody reads WhatsApp.

Another example could be surveys. We see quite often that after a conversation has taken place with an employee that you want to see how this employee behaved as a company, or behave is not the correct word, but to see how they interacted with the consumer. Of course, you can automate the flow that after a conversation has ended, we can send out a survey link to this customer via WhatsApp, the same channel that they use to contact you saying, "Okay, how did I behave?"

 

Tim:

It can be a survey URL to point you to the certain page, but it can also be a chatbot that the agent triggers saying, "Okay, now a chatbot has to take over, and ask certain C-SAT score questions on how did I do? How do you interact with your company?" That information can of course be fed back into the environment, into the support center or the sales center, to update the customer profile once again, so next time when someone reaches out to you, you have this information ready. And you see what you did bad last time, what you can do better this time.


Jean:

I'm wondering if this is a good time for some of the listeners who are not familiar with the Salesforce, to learn a bit more about it, certainly more recent development that they are doing. You want to give us just a little bit of an overview, the components that is on the platform that are helping you build these solutions?


Tim:

Yeah, indeed everybody, well, I shouldn't say everybody. Everybody that I know, but I'm a little bit biased, of course, that has heard of Salesforce. Salesforce recently started out as a CRM platform, really focused on sales. Sales is still a huge part of the environment these days. It allows you to get leads from marketing campaigns from your website, from events, or whatever you find your leads. And put them in the system and then start a sales process on top of that.

Then, of course, they also have something which they call the Service Cloud. The initial part I talked about is the Sales Cloud. They also have a Service Cloud. If you have the idea of where your customers are going in a sense of what they want to buy with you, then you can also expect questions to come in. Either over this, around this opportunity, or the sales that you're doing with this customer. But also around all of the stuff that they want to interact with your brand with. After that, Salesforce developed into more of an ecosystem and a platform where we have various applications running on top of the same infrastructure.

It's all in that same infrastructure. It interacts with all the data in the CRM platform. All the account and contact information that might be in there. It allows you to build your own apps on top of that, which is exactly what we did with our application. Salesforce is a company, a product, but it's also a complete ecosystem of products working together, providing an optimal view on the customer's data. It's really handy. If you're a sales employee, and you're doing sales with someone and you're friendly with them, it's okay for you to reach out to them on WhatsApp or any other channel. We have the tooling there that you can put the interface on top of your opportunities, or on top of your lead and interact with that customer in that way. But then as soon as a service case comes in, you want to know that this is the same person you're talking to.

You want actually to see what your sales employee did compared to your service employee. You want to see the same conversation in one, well, scroll able view, just like it is in WhatsApp, I would say. You scroll up and see, but now you see what someone else answer to this customer. That's where we see a big focus of our product, focusing it on all the different aspects that Salesforce has to offer. Including the Marketing Cloud, which we just mentioned as well.

The Marketing Cloud is used to build customer journeys, so you can, with drag and drop, create a journey where your customer goes through because it gets triggered by something because they subscribed to a newsletter, because they did an order with you because they have the service question. They go into a journey and you can put components in that journey to say, "Okay, one day after they've lock the surface case with us, and we answered them correctly." We sent them out a notification saying, "Hey, how was your interaction with our company?" That is sort of the marketing journey that that has done. You see our product is built on top of all these clouds, and it has positioned itself as part of the ongoing flow that is already in the system.


Jean:

I know because you're a tech guy, as well as business…if you were to look at it from the mainstream businesses these days who have different ways, systems, they have those legacy things, and want to start doing exactly what you were talking about…start adding ecosystem tools to make it work. But what is really the pain point that you've seen that tends to turn them into a very hairy, big project?


Tim:

It becomes a very big project when you try to do as much as once, too much at once, I should say. You should really cut it up into phases, and the rollout itself should be gradually. Start with, of course, in Salesforce, I would suggest, any other ERP system. It all evolves around the customer in the end. Even if it's an order based system, it's the customer that holds the value for you, I would say. If you want to engage with this customer, you want to know more about this customer. That means that you have to gather the data into these systems to make sure that you can see enough of your customer to properly respond to their questions. And proper help them in their way of how they interact with your brand. That means that depending on what kind of company you are, if you're a really high end fashion retailer, it would go much more for the personal approach.

If you're a more to volume and doing a lot of orders, but maybe smaller in size, then it's much less personal, but still you would segment your customers in a way that it's easier for you to see, "How much revenue are we going to create with this group? How are we communicating with that group? How are we positioning the correct products that we have to that group?" It makes sense to also use these channels because still everybody is using these social channels to interact with you in the end. You want to make sure that that's captured in a way that it helps you to create, to paint a better picture of these customers.


Jean:

I'm curious because social platforms have a different origin, especially for the marketers in the marketing department. When you are dealing with your clients and try to deploy some of these messaging interactions that are basically one-to-one, are they thinking it’s more of how a phone call used to be with customers? Or are they still thinking of it as a kind of a mass social platform?


Tim:

They definitely see this as a one-to-one interaction between the company and the customer, I would say. Indeed, it replaces maybe phone in a sense where you have that as well. People feel it's quite secure channel as well to talk to a company. They feel it's a way in which they interact with that company, and it's just their communication because it's based on phone number, people feel it's their WhatsApp and it's really their interaction. Of course, that's what makes it important for us as a company. I think it's the same for you, that you must ensure that the communication that goes over this channel is secure, and it's encrypted, then all the rest. You really want to make sure that that's the case. For example, also good for us to say that this is a one-on-one channel, and you really should see it as a one-to-one channel, but you can do one-on-one marketing on that as well.

Don't scream to the world that you have something. Really talk to this person that is interested in that product, or service, that you're offering. That makes things better, I say. You see, also, I think the question maybe is derived from the fact that WhatsApp is still a one-on-one chat conversation now. But I see a trend, I guess, where WeChat is really leading. They're offering their app as a sort of, well, almost like an operating system. They put everything in there from payments to communicating with companies, and interacting with that company in a certain way, providing yourself with marketing material. They're really sort of leading the way there and saying, "Okay, this app is not just communication. It's also communication, but it's a lot more." I think all of these different, especially the Facebook channel, Messenger and Instagram DM and WhatsApp are coming together, in a way as well, where they will offer this in the future as well. Where you can pay in the future with your WhatsApp account.

Maybe, track and trace in your WhatsApp account with that company, interact with a company in a completely different way. I think that will be the future. Some sort of consolidation of channels.

Seven years ago, one of our first customers was KLM. KLM used this as, we sat together with KLM and Facebook at the time, seven years ago. It's a while back, but and we started developing what they call bubbles, Facebook Messenger bubbles. Which, are essentially pre notifications in your Messenger screen. KLM together with us was the first airline that launched these bubbles in their Messenger communication. Since then expanded it to all the other channels that they're currently offering, but they offer these bubbles that are coming in that give you your boarding pass, or give you checking notifications. These are sent from their backend systems because they exactly know when someone has to check in, or has to get their boarding pass. And now are sent in a bubble form via these Messenger. It was seven years ago, was the initial start, but it was really, I think, sort of breaking traditional on being just a one-to-one channel into a more common channel that is used for other purposes.

Part 2 of the interview with Tim Schuitemaker will be released in two weeks, following this release of Part 1.