Genefa Murphy is CMO of Five9 – a cloud-based contact centre solution. I recently chatted with Genefa to find out more about her role, Five9, and the impact of AI on customer service.
Tell us about your role… what does a typical day look like?
Leading marketing provides an opportunity to address all aspects of the business and technology domain, and as a CMO, no two days are the same. I can go from the super tactical to the strategic in the space of a day and from data to design in the space of a few hours.
I normally start my day super early in the morning to give myself time to think and tackle things which require more creative “free time,” such as messaging or strategy, then as the morning meetings start, I will start to dive into a variety of topics: How is the team doing on their goals and commitments to the business? What do the numbers look like? How is the budget holding? Where do we need to focus more or less? How can I get buy-in from our other stakeholders across the business for marketing projects and investments? – to name but a few.
I can also safely say that every day almost without fail I get an email or a slack notification from someone in the company who has a great ‘marketing idea’, and to be honest, I love that. It shows people care, they want to engage with me and my team and normally the ideas can spur some great thinking from the collective group, and that just makes us all better.
What do consumers want from a contact centre (and how can brands effectively deliver this)?
Customers are using more engagement channels than they were prior to the pandemic. They’re interacting with brands across more touchpoints and are much more comfortable using digital and self-service channels.
It often comes down to customer effort: How easy is it for customers to get their needs addressed? Can they resolve requests through self-service and their preferred digital channels? When live assistance is needed, do customers get connected to the right agent quickly and efficiently? Any friction along the way causes dissatisfaction.
Consumers are more likely to engage with a brand if it offers personalised experiences. In the contact centre, inbound and outbound communications can be much more relevant, efficient and personal when it’s clear the company knows the customer’s interaction history. For example, which products they’ve purchased or browsed, where they are located, or what devices they like to use to engage with the brand.
To deliver on these expectations businesses need to be able to accelerate and respond to change. That’s one of the underlying drivers of the adoption of cloud technologies as it allows companies to be agile.
How is AI impacting customer service? Any big challenges, and what are the benefits for both the customer and business?
Conversational AI is becoming increasingly sophisticated in allowing customers to have more natural conversations with automated self-service applications. It can also help fulfil routine tasks such as booking an appointment or checking an order status. We’re seeing a lot of companies adopt intelligent virtual agents (IVAs) for self-service, as a replacement for the traditional systems that customers hate, and for digital self-service. The data captured during those automated interactions can be used to understand common customer questions or issues. Then, it can help improve self-service resources so customers are empowered to engage on their own terms and so their issues can be resolved quickly. Plus, this increased automation leads to significant cost savings and efficiencies for businesses.
AI and machine learning can also be applied to real-time calls or chat transcripts. It can help the agent to recommend a suggested action or next step during the interaction, or it can pull up information or links the agent needs to resolve the customer issue.
For these types of applications to really work well, the AI models need to be well trained based on the organisation’s unique terminology and data. Not every organisation can hire a team of data scientists, so AI providers must find ways to make that process more practical. For example, low-code/no-code development tools are making it easier for non-technical contact centre workers to continuously improve their applications through more intuitive analytics and training.
Can you give me an example of a brand customer service or experience that has impressed you recently?
Oreo cookies. Oreo.com in the US can create custom Oreo cookies. It’s such a simple process, but it’s super interactive, super fun and super easy. Also, they had a really nice feature where I was building a custom cookie for a friend and I got distracted by something, a few hours later I received a reminder in my inbox that I had ‘stuff’ like a ‘stuffed’ cookie in my shopping cart with a quick link to go back and pick up my shopping experience where I left off. The email was personalised, relevant, and context-aware; I didn’t have to go back and retrace my steps. I could just click a button and go back in time.
What’s been your biggest challenge at Five9?
I will say that I have to constantly remind myself to slow down. In marketing, you are always thinking about what’s next, what’s the next event, the next market trend, the next hype cycle, and also the marketing tech stack is constantly evolving. So, I must constantly remind myself not to get too ahead of myself and give me and my team time to reflect on what we did, what we are doing and what we want to do, take the time to learn, adapt and apply those learnings.
I also think the old adage that someone has to hear your message seven to eight times before it may resonate and they take action, so in today’s fast-paced world, it important not to flip flop messaging, just because as an internal team, you may be sick of hearing the same tagline, you have to remember for a customer or a prospect, that may be their first time hearing it.
What’s next for Five9?
One initiative we’re really excited about is our new partnership with the PGA European World Tour Group. We are now the official Customer Contact Centre Software Partner of the Tour and will be working with the Tour Group to develop a world-class AI-driven digital concierge service for players, corporate partners and fans. This partnership also gives us the opportunity to find new ways to connect with our customers, partners, and employees as part of the live events.
Business-wise, we expect continued strong growth for our contact centre and AI solutions both at the mid-market and at the high end of enterprise. The enterprise customers are the fastest-growing part of our business. We also expect continued strong adoption of our intelligent virtual agents (IVAs) for AI-powered self-service, as our customers realise tangible improvements in customer satisfaction and agent productivity, bringing the power of humans and technology together to create what we call collaborative intelligence. We are investing in technology that allows customers to train AI models using their own data without needing machine learning or AI expertise – just business expertise. Traditionally, this training process has required machine llearning experts that are hired as part of lengthy and expensive consulting arrangements. With our technology, these costs are reduced, opening a larger market opportunity for AI in the contact centre.
What advice would you give to someone in your industry?
Know your truth; stand for something: a way of working, an approach, a point of view. Make it educated, informed and grounded in real-world experience and use that experience and belief to drive yourself forward, and be bold about what you want to do and what you don’t want to do. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable, or humble. Those aren’t signs of weakness. They can be amazing strengths when applied in an authentic way.