Des Traynor, co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Intercom, has been at the forefront of digital customer engagement for the past decade, building a company wholly focused on helping brands have more relevant and personalized conversations with customers.
Des joined us for a Conversation with Conversocial and discussed just how key conversational data is to every single CX decision a company should make across the whole customer lifecycle. He believes the data offers deeper insight than any other source of customer data.
1. Conversation Lives In Messaging Apps
"All communication is moving to messaging. I think most people spend most of the day communicating through asynchronous messaging now.
We have at this point in the internet culture an opportunity that didn't exist 10 years ago or 20 years ago, and that opportunity is that we can literally analyze every conversation between every business and every customer. So I think that the potential future value lies in our ability to extract meaning from the wealth of data that we're now creating, that we weren't previously creating.
There are some examples of this happening in say in even spoken word as well, like the students like gong and stuff like that would automatically transcribe the sales calls and feed that into your system as well. But more, most generally what I'd say is on any given day, Intercom produces literally millions of words of insight for our own business. and why is that? it's because everyone talks to everyone over the same mediums.
We never had that before. The thing we, that we're going to see emerge over the next, say five years…think we're going to see a growth in that type of analysis, which is basically you have produced millions of words and within those words is everything you need to know about what you need to do for your business."
2. Customers Only See One Digital Relationship
"All customer conversations from the end user's point of view, they're all conversations with your business. Whereas on your side, you feel like we do our sales conversations over here, marketing comes here over here, if it's support, we want it to go that way. That's segmenting you tend to push down your customer's throats, even though they don't want it.
Imagine if you were checking into a hotel and no one would talk to you about anything other than the thing they're there to talk to you about. So as in: 'hey, I'd like to order some room service.' 'Oh, I don't do room service.' It's a weird experience, and then what makes it even weirder was, as we saw the rise of the subscription economy and the SaaS-ification of the world, I often make the point that, if I'm on trial for Conversocial or for Uber or Spotify, as in I'm within the first 14 days before I decided to start paying and I ask a question such as 'Hey, how do I download playlists offline?' Is that a sales call? Is that a support call?
It's actually, it's really hard to tell the difference. If I don't get good support, you're not going to make a sale. if I get good support, you'll make a sale. And the idea that we treat these conversations as like astoundingly different and are managed through different tools, with different SLAs and different staff, starts to fall apart pretty quickly."
3. Conversational Data Needs To All Be In One Place
"You need to make sure the vast majority of important conversations are gathered in the same place.
A good practice, for example, would be like the relationship manager might jump back to the customer record and add a note or a sync a note from Salesforce or wherever it's recorded. All the feedback needs to be kept together.
If you were on Zendesk, the only one of your end-users you'll see on Zen desk of people, who've had a problem. That's how you ended up talking to support. It's not because everything's going brilliant.
So if you really want to make sure you're getting proper voice of customer and getting sales, marketing, and support bought in, they need to be looking at all of the customer feedback, not just point by point pieces of it.
And that's one of the advantages about having a unified customer communication platform, you you get the sales conversations there and the support conversation there, and you can see it's the same thread that connects everything."
4. Instant Feedback Is The Most Accurate
"If you wanted customer feedback in 2010, you would either mail bomb, your entire user base, which is always a waste of time cause you'd be mailing tens of thousands of people who haven't logged in years, I'm asking them for feedback. You'd also be asking people for feedback when they're not using your product.
I often liken that old world to being - imagine if you're like a chef in a restaurant and you want to see if a new soup is going to be popular. Your options are you could a) four days after someone's left your restaurant, send them an email with a link to a survey monkey, asking them if they remember what the ate and if it was the soup, did it happen to be very good soup? Or you could b) walk out and ask people 'Yo is that soup any good?'
You're way more effusive and rich with your opinions about something while you're doing it, than you are four days later. The entirety of customer feedback back then, was this four days later model with tools like MailChimp + Campaign Monitor + Survey Monkey.
You didn't have a good way to segment your user base, so you ended up talking to ever, and you couldn't distinguish say paying customers from regular customers. You couldn't distinguish active from inactive. You couldn't distinguish account owners from end users, et cetera. So you got a giant blob of shitty non contextual feedback."
5. Data Can Set The Direction Of Your Product
"Every quarter we produce a customer voice report. It's consolidated everything we've heard from customers now we've distinguished churned customers, current customers, sales customers, what we call our voice of sales.
And then even within sales customers, we distinguish what we call blockers from, from hurdles. All of those individual things are just insights. The way we get value out of them is we collate them and put them all into one place.
Every customer insight is then tied back to the original conversation. So we can say here's the 27 people who asked for something in this ballpark, we can then revenue weight it as well. So we can say what feature is costing us the most revenue from a growth or from maturing perspective.
Then you can basically run that report, and hand it over to either marketing or sales or product, depending on what the likely next step is...So marketing might need to know about it if it's something like people don't know that we do ticketing...But perhaps the most weaponized way is obviously the product team itself.
Ultimately, what happens is over time, they grow, their revenue weight gets heavier as we realize how much more important they've become. And that ultimately triggers some product team in the company to build it. And then we release it. We go back to all the customers ever mentioned it and we let them know it's now live."