If you weren’t at last week’s Salesforce.com Dreamforce conference in San Francisco, I will tell you what you missed (besides endless parties … er, networking opportunities) and why it’s important. First off, with nonstop stimulation and fantastic food, drink, people and learning, sensory overload was the norm. But this post is not about the excess, Green Day, or my personal travel details. I don’t think that helps you very much. The conference is certainly a spectacle. It is also something more. While it’s impossible to attend all of the 1,000+ sessions, making everybody’s experience of the event unique, I feel confident in making some broad generalizations about the theme of the conference, which essentially applies to anybody that does business. I’m going to call it ‘customer service for the 21st century.’
What follows are 5 of the most prominent buzzwords and catchphrases overheard at this year’s conference, plus a guide to interpreting them:
Internet of customers (connected customers): The idea that customers are mobile, always on and always connected via the Internet. The implication is that your business/brand should be monitoring all the data they share, engaging with them and making it easier for them to do their jobs or get what they want.
Internet of things: Related to the previous definition, the concept that everyday devices can connect to the Internet and bring more efficiency and convenience to users’ lives. Examples include Internet-controlled thermostats, automobile ignition starters, and electric toothbrushes (see Marc Benioff keynote below).
1:1 messaging: Refers to individual, personalized communication, specifically in the context of a large audience, e.g., an email database of 100,000 customers. The idea is that by appealing to the unique needs and situation of a single customer, you are vastly increasing your chances of being valuable to that person.
customer empathy: At the risk of sounding obvious, the companies that truly understand and empathize with their customers tend to be the ones that solve their problems and help give them what they want/need, sometimes even before they know they need it. The message is to truly understand your customers and do whatever it takes to remain close to them.
mobile: With mobile device usage increasing, the warnings were loud and clear: Any company that has mobile customers (which are increasingly representing all customers) needs to have a mobile-ready website and/or applications. Simply put, a website designed for a desktop computer will not be easy (and often impossible) to use on a mobile device, which causes high abandonment rates. The greater number of mobile customers in your audience, the more applicable this is to your business.