Tiffani Bova is a former Global Customer Growth and Innovation Evangelist at Salesforce, a top influencer on improving the customer experience, and a sought-after speaker and thought leader. She is the author of the Wall Street Journal bestseller Growth IQ and her brand-new book, The Experience Mindset, which released this year. In her second appearance on the show, Tiffani Bova joined host Robert Glazer on the Elevate Podcast to discuss The Experience Mindset and how companies can create exceptional experiences for their customers. Don’t miss this episode.
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Tiffani Bova On Wowing Customers With An Experience Mindset
Tiffani Bova, Global Customer Growth And Innovation Evangelist At Salesforce, Joins Host Robert Glazer On The Elevate Podcast
Our quote is from Maya Angelou, “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” My guest, Tiffani Bova, is the Global Customer Growth and Innovation Evangelist at Salesforce, a top influencer and customer experience, and a sought-after speaker and thought leader. She’s the author of The Wall Street Journal’s best-selling Growth IQ and The Experience Mindset, which has made the list. Tiffani has been recognized by various organizations, including being named 1 of the 50 Most Powerful and Influential Women in California by the National Diversity Council. Tiffani, welcome back to the show.
Thanks for having me.
I know we discussed your background in detail on your first appearance on the show, which I’d encourage people to read. It’s Episode 25. Instead, I thought maybe we’d start by covering what’s happened since we last chatted. It’s been a pandemic. What are some of the major business and personal changes you’ve made since spring 2020 and this thing called COVID first appeared in our last chat?
My garage is no longer a garage. It’s a full-blown recording studio where I could do virtual events. I was doing 3 a day for a good 18 months in all corners of the globe that I could remotely dial into events that were happening. Thankfully, that’s not happening as much as it was then. I’m back on the road again. It’s nice to be a little more balanced between in-person and virtual. That’s probably from the COVID and this setup.
Since then, I wrote a second book. Right at the beginning of COVID, I started a research project. It ran through the first year or so of the pandemic. It was fantastic rich research around being able to prove the connection between how happy employees lead to happier customers. If you get those two things right, you have greater growth rates. While I’m not the first to say it, we are probably one of the first that has been able to show what pieces and parts of employee experience have the greatest impact on customers. When we were done with the research, it inspired me to want to write a second book. I swore I would never do it. At the end of writing the second book, I’ll never do it again.
It’s not the writing. It’s the birthing.
It was published on June 6th, 2023.
Let’s talk about the book The Experience Mindset. It made a Wall Street Journal bestseller already. Congrats. I know that’s harder to do. I know it came out of the research, but what need you to start look poking around in that area? Did you know what you were looking for? Did you have a different hypothesis or is this what you were looking to prove?
It’s a much more personal answer. My first book was titled Growth IQ, and it came out in 2018. It was ten paths to growth. Over a decade, as a research fellow at a company called Gartner advising startups to Fortune 1 companies on how they go to market and grow the business, and then prior to that about twelve years of being a practitioner sales marketing and customer service leader. That twenty-plus years gave me this unique perspective on how to grow businesses. Those ten paths were a culmination of all that work. I had done it during that time. I said, “Let’s put something together that can help companies regardless of how large or small they are, what industry they’re in, to get smarter around the way they construct the go-to-market and growth strategy.
I told that story because, in the ten paths, I barely talked about employees. In the customer experience path, which was the first one, I said, “It’s customer first. Customers are true north. It’s all about the customer,” and I said very briefly, “Your employees have to be happy and you want to make sure your employees are able to serve your customers.”
I did not make it its own path. I came and worked at Salesforce. I have been here for many years, but about a few years ago, I was standing on stage and said, “I didn’t think it was a coincidence that Salesforce is a great place to work pretty much around the globe. It’s one of the most innovative companies in the world in the fastest-growing enterprise software company.” I was like, “Maybe I could prove that. Our culture enables us to innovate better and faster. You put those two things together and our customers are happy. They’re more successful. We grow faster.”
I went to our CMO and asked if we could prove it. That led me down this path. As I started uncovering the findings from the research, I couldn’t believe I didn’t cover this almost at all in Growth IQ and I had to then write almost the “eleventh path” to my first book and cover the connection between employee and customer. That’s how it happened. The reason I told that long story is I didn’t just wake up and go, “This is going to be something I’m interested in now.” It was a miss for me. “How do I learn? How do I reframe my thinking when it comes to growth?” This was my opportunity to do that.
We’ve seen some books. We’ve heard a lot about building culture-centric, employee-centric, or client-centric. What does the experience-centric look like in an organization? How does that look or feel different than those two concepts? I know it includes both of them. How would you demonstrate what is different?
Back in 2008 when I was working at Gartner, I was part of a team that made the prediction that the Chief Marketing Officer would spend more on technology than the Chief Information Officer. When we said that, everyone thought we were crazy. We weren’t necessarily talking about tech for the sake of technology. We were talking about it because we believed that customer experience was going to be the way brands competed in the future, cross-industry. You could fight on price not a great thing to race to zero.
Walmart’s got that covered.
Is their experience good? You could say, “In-store experience is the store clean. Are the people who work there able to answer your questions?” They introduced curb pickup to make sure that moms with kids in the car didn’t have to pack up all the kids and come into the car into the store to pick up their stuff. They started to lean into experience and balance that with price in many ways. If you think about customer experience, who are the keepers of that promise for customer experience? It’s employees. To your point, the balance happens when you, as an organization, make a decision to do something for your customer or whatever that is.
Let’s say, on your website, it’s 5 clicks to do something and you want it to become 2. For your customer, the effort goes down. The experience goes up, “I have to click five things. I only have to click two and I get what I want. I can chat, call, email, WhatsApp, or text. I have multiple ways I can communicate with this company. Isn’t that easier for me?” The unintended consequence on the back end though may be that the employees are running around doing all the things that you took away from the customer. You gave it to the employee to do.
It’s a win-lose game. You just took the balance of the scale and pushed it to one side?
The answer to the question is that when you make a decision toward a customer, you need to understand what implications there are for employees. The consideration of making sure that you stay as aligned as you possibly can is never going to be 50/50, but you don’t want to be like, “Ninety percent we do everything for the customer, and who cares what it does to the employee?” because in that case, you get burnout. You get people who aren’t satisfied with what they do.
If you look across the landscape right now, you have people trying to unionize because they want to be treated better. “I want you to invest in my career. I want to get breaks. I want air conditioning in my trucks,” whatever it is. Although it’s a two-hour delivery and the customer is super happy that they clicked one to get their product and it shows up at the house two hours later, an employee had to pull it from the warehouse, get it on a truck, and drive it to your house. What is the experience for them? We want to make sure that if anything, out of the experience mindset, it’s about shifting your focus to be one at the expense of all others considering both when making decisions.
The opposite is true. One of the things I noticed in COVID and a lot of service firms have struggled with, people want the 40-workweek or whatever. I heard a lot of service firms. One of the things I’ve heard is if you manufacture skateboards or surfboards or I think a surfboard company started it, you could decide, “On Friday, we don’t work. I’m not putting it into my distribution chain.”
Some service firms have struggled with, “Our clients expect to hear from us,” or otherwise, and telling them that no one’s here on Friday doesn’t land very well with them. I assume their cases where it goes the other way as well or a lot of people’s answer to the burnout after COVID was, “We all need to work half as much and get paid the same amount of money.” A lot of leaders were like, “I get it and I would love that too, but we’ll be out of business by next month.” It goes both ways.
Let’s play that out. Employees want a four-day workweek. Executives flat out say no or employees say, “We’re not coming back to the office,” and the employer says, “You are.”
That’s going on daily.
Let’s play that out. What if you had an employee advisory group that you pulled together and not leaders, managers, or executives, but individual contributors? Let’s say it’s a call center, seller, delivery or warehouse person, the front line of your company.
There are no hecklers on the stage. I can see where you’re going with this.
You put together the employee advisory board and the executives come in and go, “We want to deliver a four-hour workweek for the employees. Here are the things we need to solve for. Our customers expect us to be here 24/7 to answer the phone or 5 days a week from 8:00 to 5:00,” in whatever industry you’re in. We need to make sure that availability and service don’t decline, teaming and collaboration. Whatever the 4 or 5 things are for the reasons why executives are like, “No. Come in 5 days a week. Work from 8:00 to 5:00. Sit in your cube,” whatever the reasons are they think you have to be there, put those to the side and let the employees figure it out.
Not everyone is available Monday through Thursday. We do a staggering workweek. Some are on Monday and Thursday. Some are on Tuesday and Friday. Some are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Some don’t work on Monday. You get it. We have people who are here five days a week. It’s just not everybody is here five days a week. If you’re not in that situation everybody comes in 1 week a month or 2 days a week. How do you solve it so that if you’re an executive and you feel like the only way collaboration, team building, mentorship, and all that happens is when people are together, give them a reason to be together?
I am surprised how many people are not trying to explain their reasoning, and some of it is solid. Look at the data. This has been fully remote for many years, but there are some interesting challenges for us after COVID as an organization because we were used to getting together more and seeing our clients. Turnovers are high. People aren’t connected to their employees. People are lonely. Even though they say they don’t want to come to work and stuff, the loneliness is off the charts. There are some real reasons why people want to do this, but the exerting power play and particularly the homogeneous group of people that seem to be exerting power is not been a good look.
Part of this is because leaders will snap back to, “This is the way we’ve always done it. We were successful when we did it that way. We are not willing to risk the change on the business.” Survey your employees and ask them what their concerns are about coming. You may hear, “My commute is so long,” or whatever it is. You may say well, “Commute is long. We have fifteen employees that are in this area. Let’s get a van so everyone can drive together two days a week.”
We work out by that location, and people go out there one day a week or whatever it is.
If you ask the employees, they will answer. As leaders, you could take that information, work with the Employee Advisory Board or EAB, and come up with solutions. Even if your employees don’t like what the decision was, they feel like they participated in it, their voices were heard, and there were some concessions made on some of the things that they wanted. It will never be perfect for the employee or the company, but in the end, that collaborative dialogue and decision-making gets employees far more committed satisfied, engaged, and connected to where they work. It allows executives to build trust in the employee base.
You start to push away that quiet quitting or toxicity in the culture because it’s like you said, “Employer has power. Employee has none,” and that whole conversation. This is a way forward and you can’t say that’ll never work if you’ve never tried it. You can’t say, “I don’t care what my employees say. This is what we’re going to do.” If that’s your stance, then you will get everything you deserve.
There’s a subtext to this that is important. I’ve written on this. I don’t like when people talk about the company or they blame the company. In some way, it’s all humans trying to do their best, but we get these narratives as we have in society. By having these discussions, you understand that there might be some other people trying to do the best that they can. For example, one that we’ve had in our company and I’ve heard a lot of people, the HR departments are starting to crack down on where people are working, even the ones with flexibility.
The problem is they found out people move to Idaho or they’re working temporarily from Russia or other stuff. They’re not legally set up to work there. That could be tens of thousands of dollars. It could be risk or otherwise. Employees jump right into it like, “Why are you telling me what I can do? Why are you strict in me?” The poor HR person is like, “I can’t manage 50 states and 10 countries. I’d be doing compliance all day long.”
There’s a real reason. It’s not like trying to make someone’s life more difficult or want to say no. There’s a real reason and similarly, if you have a discussion around that saying, “I understand. In theory, love to let you work wherever you want, but there are some laws and regulations and stuff that don’t make that possible including big countries that would be legal for us to employ you.”
You get this weaponized version of, “They,” or, “The company.” I’m always like, “That’s a human like you. I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt. They’re trying to make a good decision,” but people aren’t sitting down. They’re not talking about the why. They’re not explaining the constraints that they have to work with as you’re explaining.
That is a cultural problem. If going into the pandemic, it wasn’t a culture of transparency, open communication, feedback loops, real-time dialogues, surveying, replying, and employee advisory boards, it’s hard to create that culture during COVID and it’s most definitely difficult to get that culture established coming out the other side of it when people may still be working from home.
This is where an empathetic leader who listens has done so much better. If you are reading this and you’re like, “It’s not our culture. It’s not the way I lead. It’s not what my people would be used to me doing,” this is where, as leaders, we have to lean into being uncomfortable and vulnerable to find our way through this new communication and leadership style. Otherwise, you’re going to continue to try to push this power narrative and you’ll churn out people, hire new people, and then churn out more people. You are not able to have success if you don’t do those things correctly.
The military doesn’t use command and control anymore in the same way that it is adapted in the workplace. McChrystal had a quote, “If you get to wherever you’re supposed to go and the conditions are different, don’t execute the command I gave you. Execute the command I should have given.” It’s funny that if you’re running the command-and-control playbook, I don’t think you’re going to survive another 5 or 10 years in business.
Many companies are doing this well. There are money companies that have learned how to leverage technology, to have hyper-collaborative, effective, and productive organizations with people working around the world. I’ve worked from home myself for many years long before the pandemic and I know I was early doing it. I walked away from my last job as an operating leader because they wouldn’t let me work two days a week from home. My commute was too long.
I was like, “I was spending three hours a day driving. That’s fifteen hours a week. It was not worth my time or my stress. The Los Angeles traffic three hours a day will make you do terrible things.” It was a way where I could also see companies that have been effectively doing this. It’s not impossible. It’s not that you have to give in to all the whims of your employees, but it’s how and where could you use technology to be more effective in that way.
Maybe there are teams that have to be in the office and teams that you do that 1 week a month, 1 day a week, 3 days a week, or whatever it is, then you may have teams that are all over the world anyway. Having one person go to the office makes no sense because the whole team is all over the place. In that last example, I gave myself, my team wasn’t even in the state of California. They were in Kansas City. Coming into the office, I didn’t see my team but it was for leadership.
Are you doing it right? Is it perfunctory because they’re trying to say, “You have to,” or is there an actual business reason to do so?
It was a business reason. The team executive team meetings were on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I said, “I’ll come in Tuesdays and Thursdays,” but for me to sit in a cube Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and talk to a team who’s not here, I could talk to the team from home. I would talk to the team on my commute and then I sit in the office in my cube. It made no sense.
I was looking over our notes before we talked. I was like, “This is perfect. I’m going to ask Tiffani about this because this experience has gone from a good thing to an awkward thing for customers and clients. It’s reaching, no pun intended, a point where something’s going to have to give but tipping in the US.” These kiosks, self-service, take out 20% to 30% tip prompts on self-service machines.
An article came out and said 2/3 of customers hate it. Employees think it’s awkward. It’s propagating but it’s a horrible experience for everyone. Why aren’t some smart businesses figuring out how to use this to their advantage or do something? Two-thirds of people find something incredibly negative and walking away from that establishment seems crazy to me.
It’s become a hot button. There are even a couple of places in Los Angeles where the bill comes, it’s a sit-down restaurant full-service and not a fast food. They’re adding kitchen busboy fees or tips for them and telling you.
They are telling you that’s not the tip.
There’s a line for the servers themselves. When all is said and done, 45% of your bill is tipping. We were at this restaurant, my best friend, her husband, myself, and a friend of mine. All of a sudden, we were like, “You could pick one. I don’t care what you do with it.” The service was fantastic, we’d prefer it went to our waitress. She was amazing and we were going to give her a 25% tip, but then, if she wants to tip out the kitchen, there are ways to do this differently. Some Industries are trying to make up for the fact that the hourly rate is low. They’re trying to say, “You can make this much an hour because we’re giving you tips.”
It’s everywhere. It’s in takeout and quick-serve in places where people are paid normal wages. It’s arbitrary. It has to do with where the technology is. There’s a whole bunch of things. I don’t tip people at the grocery store, drugstore, doctor’s office, or other customer service person. You talk to Delta. I saw in the article that 2/3 of Americans have a negative view of tipping. I was thinking, “How long can this go on?” Are you going to go back to that restaurant? Is it bad? Is it a negative experience for you? Did it ruin the positive food experience?
Unfortunately, the waitress brought the manager over. We had a conversation. We’re like, “She was great,” but nowhere on the menu did it say we’re adding 20% for something. It was just on the bill. They are like, “No.”
This is not a great experience. It’s awkward for her. What would you recommend to businesses or companies? This has been easy to do. It’s turned on. To me, this is a classic experience thing. Even the emotional blackmails, the term I’ve seen, where you flip the kiosk right in front of you and ask you to pick. It’s awkward for everyone. It seems like such a bad experience for everyone.
When you leave the US, tipping isn’t standard, but they pay better. Make it less awkward, pay your people better, and remove the tip because the tip is a way for you to make up for the fact that you’re not paying a higher hourly rate. Some places are even balking at the hourly rate going up. Wages have not kept up with inflation. They’re up, but they’re not up as high as inflation. It’s like you didn’t get that increase.
Especially for small businesses, it’s difficult to pay more people or pay more per hour for the people who work for you. You’re trying to get creative in how to do that. There are other ways for sure, but everyone’s giving something a shot. It might not work. The question is, as people start to say, “I didn’t know this.” They start to take it away. They say, “It’s not working. I’m not going to do it anymore. We’ll try something else,” but you can’t keep going, “That’s okay. We’re going to keep doing it because I want my people to make more money.”
The data says that 25% to 75% of it finds it to be a super negative experience. If anything else I was surveying my customers on, I would figure out how to remove it. I know some smart company out there already is going to put a thing up in their store and say, “We raised our prices and we decided to pay our people well. You don’t need to tip them. They’re paid well and taken care of.” Some customers will that will resonate with it. It’s not the money. It’s the experience of it. Can you share some other examples or case studies from the book to talk about the positive impact of an experience mindset for a company that’s seen a lot of growth and success?
Through the research what was interesting was a couple of things. 1) The greatest disconnect between what employees think is happening in the business versus what the executives think is happening in the business comes from our data technology. It is 52% of the C-Suite that we surveyed. This is global small, medium, and large businesses, cross-industry. It was a blind survey. They didn’t know it was Salesforce and said that they believed that the technology that was deployed was working effectively and seamlessly.
Only 32% of employees agreed with that statement. Only 20% of customer-facing employees agreed that technology helps them be efficient and effective, and collaborate more easily. That is the biggest gap. I posted something on LinkedIn that showed this guy going through this obstacle course of hopping on a trampoline, jumping on a bike, walking on a tightrope, lighting a fire, juggling something else, and it’s like twenty steps to get to the end. He’s like, “I did it.” I joked at the top like this is a metaphor for what a call center agent has to do to open and close a ticket.
Are you saying it’s all technology or there’s a misperception on specific implementations of technology or technology, in general, is not the panacea that people have made it out to me?
It’s outdated tech, broken or outdated processes, silo data, and lack of integration. This is an enterprise staff. The average enterprise has a little more than 1,000 unique applications in it.
The managers think it’s good because they’re not using it. It’s not the moral story. They’re not out there in the field seeing it or using it.
There’s an average of about 1,000 applications and only 27% of them are integrated. Who bears the brunt of the lack of integration? Usually, if I were in a room of people, “How many of you can do your job every day in one app?” I don’t think anybody ever raises their hand and I’ll go, “Between 5 and 10, 10 and 15, more than 15.” You’d be surprised how many people are in those 10-plus apps that they’re in every day to do their job. They’re a different study and not ours that’s mentally switching between apps costs about four hours a week because your brain has to switch from one app to the next app.
When you go looking for something, how much time is it? That’s where artificial intelligence and GPT and those kinds of things can help with that but it’s not the end-all-be-all to solve it because if you have broken processes, if you don’t have the training, and if you don’t have good data and integration, it doesn’t matter how good the tech is.
That is one big category that for all intents and purposes, employees are dealing with much tech. Let’s talk about those who work from home. Do they have high-speed internet? Are they doing a Zoom call back to back back to back? Are they on Slack, in the mail, in this, in a ticketing system, or in a lead distribution system? They’re in seven things and they’re doing it from home. it’s a lot of extra time. A seller’s time, only 28% is spent on selling. Don’t you hire him to sell? A lot of it has to do with that administrative work. That was a big one around technology.
The other was people want companies to invest in their career like, “I want to be here. I like working here, but my skills are no longer relevant. I need to learn how to use these new tools in a very effective way. Invest in me. If you invest in me, show us you are committed to me. I’m more committed to you.” Making sure especially as all these new technologies are launching at a very rapid pace and not slowing down anytime soon. You have to reskill your people.
The third one is creating what we were talking about, a very transparent feedback loop between employees and leadership. You avoid those things where leaders aren’t using the technology that employees are using. They think everything’s great because their weekly all-hands meeting has a printout of everything that’s going on in the business and 20 people behind the scenes had to spend 8 hours to put it together. They see the one sheet and go, “This is great. Tech is working. Everything’s great. I get this readout every week,” and they don’t even have any idea how much goes in behind it.
I feel the pain on that too-many-applications thing. Everything’s now plugged in or a special purpose thing or it does this little thing well. We were looking at this particularly and having everyone remote. One of the mandates became, “It’s got to work with our single sign-in log-on,” because even if it’s better and people don’t have to log in separately, they forget their password, they won’t use it. It’s got an integration with that and ideally, it integrates with Slack because that’s where our people are living.
If its single sign-on integrates with Slack, then it’s likely to be more help than harm. As an example, there was one that set up one-on-one coffee dates in a remote environment for people. It prompted people to get together but you’ve signed on once. It didn’t need a new password and did it through Slack. Ping two people and said, “I want to set you up.” There’s a perfect example where at some point, you have to try to keep people in one system or what seems like a better tool ends up creating more stress and complexity.
In a perfect world, there would be one tool. We know that that’s probably not possible, but our narrative and this is not a Salesforce commercial by any stretch but we say the single source of truth. While that’s a great narrative, there’s a reason we say it. If data is not the same in multiple systems, then which one is right? That’s a problem. Even if someone has to bounce from system to system, let’s hypothetically say, then you want to make sure that it’s threaded from a data and integration standpoint.
It’s those kinds of things. Over time, we’ve spent billions of dollars reducing the effort for customers and increasing the effort for employees. This is exactly one of the biggest areas of pain for employees is the systems, tools, and processes that they have to use and are forced to use every day because they don’t have a say in what tools they use. It’s not making their lives easier, more effective, or efficient.
This is why this is always the best practice for leaders and employees if you think about training is to go sit in that call center and take calls. Go ride around with customers. The CEO of Uber has been there a few years but started driving and had all kinds of feedback. You can’t sit in your ivory tower without going out there and seeing how the experience is playing out for our customers and our clients on a day-to-day basis.
I use the example in both of my books. Undercover Boss is a masterclass on what not to do. When I’m watching it, I’m screaming at the television, “How did you not know this was happening because of what you said?”
You’re saying not to do that. You mean that they should have done it earlier when you say Undercover Boss.
What they uncover is not to do because they are never leaving their desk. There was a great book. It was the very first business book I ever read, In Search Of Excellence by a gentleman by the name of Tom Peters. I was fortunate enough to have Tom write the foreword for my most recent book The Experience Mindset. He’s had a huge impact on me and my career. His whole premise was management by wandering around.
He got that from the late ‘70s from Hewlett-Packard. I would tell you that it was about getting out of your office and going and talking. If it’s remote, have that Donut Connection with someone who does not work for you and say, “How’s it going? How do you like the technology? What processes do you think are broken? Do you need more training?” Ask them those questions.
At the end of your time with them, over the course of 1 month, 6 months, or 1 year, you have a much better pulse on what’s happening in your business so that you can make sure that whatever you put on your vision board, the mantra of your company, and the promise to your customers, your employees have the ability to deliver upon the things you’re saying as an executive. If you don’t do that and you manage from a spreadsheet or you only listen to your direct reports, you will find yourself in that Undercover Boss situation where you’re like, “What is going on in the business?”
I know books are written in advance of when they come out. This might have been the last chapter or the next chapter. Let’s talk about in Experience Mindset the balance of technology and humans. Your LinkedIn feed, my LinkedIn feed is AI non-stop. AI is going to create so many useless SDR outreaches, marketing content that no one wants to read, and all this perfunctory stuff. How do companies strike the right balance in this experience between leveraging technology but maintaining a human touch in delivering exceptional customer experiences? I don’t think you’re going to have any magazine profiling articles you have with Southwest where they got the person on the plane when something happened to them where we’re an AI robot responded to something and changed someone’s life?
I disagree with the last thing. I think AI can do that. Salesforce is very much focused on AI. We are coming out generally releasing most of our clouds as well as Slack GPT which which we announced. Social selling many years ago was this awful outreach of sellers creating one message and mass sending it via direct message on LinkedIn. It’s been bad for a while. The goal is AI or automation, now that we have the ability to be smarter with large language models, can we help make it more personalized?
If it looked through all of the communication that a sales rep had with Tiffani Bova, could it then say, “Here are the things that are important to Tiffani. Here’s the crafted message for her individually?” That’s better because a human would have had to have done that in the past like, “Let me look back at our last conversations. What are the three hot buttons for Tiffani? I’m going to draft this email. That’ll take me 90 minutes or 1 hour.” Could I do it in three minutes? The human looks at it and goes, “I wouldn’t say it this way. Let me check that.” I’ve spent ten minutes checking it. In 10 or 15 minutes, I can send that out versus 90 minutes doing all that administrative stuff as I rattled off that stat. Only 28% of a salesperson’s time is spent selling. A lot of it is in a lot of research and drafting.
Time can be saved, but as we all know, when it gets that easy, people will get lazy with it. You and I and everyone are going to get ten times more of these perfectly crafted messages every day.
I said it when social selling was the hot thing to talk about. If you’re not good offline, you’re going to be terrible online. You are going to be terrible online at scale. You could do far more damage online by hitting a blasted terrible message to 50 people at one time than by having 1 bad phone call. If you’re not doing the work offline, I don’t expect you to do the work online. You have to get into better habits around being prepared for the things that customers are looking for. Where I disagree with you is if the message is more personalized, more targeted, and contains value-based information, whether an AI large language model GPT did it with a human touch, and sent it to me and it was perfect for me, I don’t care.
We agree on that but what I said was a little different. I said, “I don’t think they’re going to be newspaper articles on the type of customer experiences generated from GPT than generated for some of the human things where someone has gone dramatically out of their way to do something for someone.”
Let’s take your Southwest example. I don’t think it’s an either/or. I think it’s not AI or humans alone. This is an and story. Let’s say someone’s trying to get on a flight and the human is standing at the gate, trying to coordinate, and something’s happened, “We want to rally for this person and get them on this plane. What are we going to do?” They’re bouncing between systems. It’s taking all this time and people are waiting on the plane.
If an AI could go, “I’m going to scan the next one hour of flights and look for where there’s availability. I could reroute this person very simply. In 45 seconds, I hand that to the gate agent and go, ‘We’ve solved your problem. I’m going to give you the ticket.’” The other human who needs help is saying, “I need help,” to a human. Human is then saying, “I’m going to go into my system. Let AI solve this problem for me by prompting the right question.” Out comes the answer. I handed the person the ticket and it was an amazing customer experience.
I buy that. There’s a combo.
There’s no reason that it couldn’t happen via the app. I could say, “I have to change my flight. I have to be in Phoenix by 2:00 PM tomorrow,” or whatever it is. Maybe there’s no human intervention.
They figured out that you were worth helping because it crunched a lot of stuff in real-time. You’re important and you flew ten times this week. Your last three flights were late.
There are a lot of examples of AI stepping in, creating amazing experiences and humans don’t even know it wasn’t a human. That’s one. Two, in a highly personal physical engagement, it is less likely AI can replace that, but you could say, “Surgery now is augmented by robots. Warehouses are now augmented by robots.” For me, it’s an and play. It’s where and how to use humans and technology where the experience is not negatively impacted. You’re not losing or breaking trust.
One of the things we are very focused on is having GPT with a massive trust layer on top of it. We’re not letting all the data of all of our customers enter into this large language model that everybody who uses Salesforce has access to all the things we are capturing. That’s not a good strategy. Entering information into some large language model for sensitive personal information or confidential information is an absolute no.
That can create a very negative customer experience.
1) We are leaning hard into making sure that if you’re going to use these things, there is a big layer of trust. 2) We’ve had an office for the ethical and humane use of technology now for many years in place because we’ve been on this AI journey. I’ve been here for many years. It was right before I joined. We’ve had an Einstein for about that long. This is not an immature market for us, but our approach is a little bit different for some of the reasons that we’ve been discussing.
The key thing I take away from that is people talk about switching E’s. A lot of the AI stuff is people talking about efficiency. Focus on the experience. They’re efficiencies within the experience, but if you’re focused on efficiency, you’re going to miss a huge opportunity to improve the experience.
If you view your call center as a cost center and not a place to deliver amazing human-based experiences in order to increase your wallet and loyalty, sell more, and all of those things, you will find yourself in trouble. That was well said.
Thank you for stopping by and joining us. Your insights are invaluable for businesses. We’re trying to figure out how to thrive in what is a very rapidly changing and competitive landscape in which some things are old and some things are new constantly.
Thank you for having me. It was a pleasure to be here.
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