CMO Insights: Mark Floisand, CMO at Coveo

Mark

April 10, 2019

This week’s guest on CMO Insights is Mark Floisand, CMO at Coveo.

In this video, Mark talks about:

  • The importance of creating and developing trusting relationships with your customers.
  • Operationalizing the customer experience and creating a personal experience.
  • The importance of being personal, authentic and transparent in marketing.

Learn more about Mark from his LinkedIn profile and follow Coveo on Twitter.

For more great CMO interviews like this one, please check out our other CMO Insights Videos or our YouTube channel.

Full Transcript

Jeff Pedowitz:

Hi, welcome to Revenue Marketing Television, the CMO Insights Series. I’m your host, Jeff Pedowitz, President and CEO of The Pedowitz Group. So today as our guest, we have Mark Floisand, who’s Chief Marketing Officer at Coveo. Mark, welcome to the show.

Mark Floisand:

Hey, Jeff. Thanks for having me.

Jeff Pedowitz:

A pleasure to have you. So we were talking just shortly before the interview about how important it is to be personal in marketing. It is not kind of counterintuitive in a lot of ways. I mean, she meant we as companies trying to develop an emotional connection with our buyers and our customers.

Mark Floisand:

Yeah, that’s a good point. I guess there’s a, what I would observe is there’s been this fundamental sea shift in terms of the task in front of marketers. And I’m old enough with enough gray hair to know that there was a time when you could kind of, you know, pick a target segment and create what was largely a homogenous message to that segment to go after them and you know, apply math to it. And a certain number of them would ultimately become prospects and convert into customers. And you know, along came the ability to find everything that one needs to know as a consumer digitally on your phone, online, wherever it is. And more importantly see the, you know, other people were contributing to that information as well in terms of reviews and the like. And so this balance of power shifted to consumers away from marketeers. And so with that sort of sea change, the role of the marketeer to my mind has, has fundamentally altered. We have to be more focused on equipping those individual consumers, those individual shoppers and buyers to discover the information you need themselves. And that’s a sea change.

Jeff Pedowitz:

And how do we do that and make it authentic?

Mark Floisand:

Yeah, it’s a good point. You know, authenticity is central to this. I think one of the things we’re seeing is as the ability to both find good information about an organization and bad for that matter is that the, you know, hands of everyone. Now if you’re not authentic, you get called out fast. If you’re not transparent, you get called out fast. If you do something wrong and try and cover it over, you get called out fast. And so in this social ecosystem that we now live with in authenticity is actually fundamental. You know, Coveo one of our values is integrity. And that sounds trite, but if you think about making sure that everything you do has a level of integrity that you know, you can look your mother in the eye and tell you about that authenticity starts to break through in the brand and it reflects itself in things like, you know, what do you do and what don’t you do?

Mark Floisand:

You know, what data do you choose not to buy or choose not to find in the back of a cab? Because it would be the, it wouldn’t be a, an authentic thing to do in terms of bringing that into your marketing information. How do you make sure that you are not treading, you know, over the line, the have grown increasingly fearful of in the notion of and respect my privacy, respect my permissions. Don’t surprise me with stuff that I find creepy or scary, by all means. Delight me and anticipate what I need but don’t surprise me. And so I think those kind of health warnings, that sort of sensitivity to how we as consumers want to be treated can really be a guiding light for marketeers as well. Put yourself in your own shoes if what you are doing you, it would be uncomfortable receiving. That’s normally a pretty good acid test.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Good point. I think though in a lot of us, we look at Amazon and we’re looking at books and then we say, well that’s such a great example of being customer centric. They seem to know my preferences. But those systems from day one were built around the customer. They didn’t try and take their systems and then retrofit them later. And I think whether you’re a B to B or B to C, a lot of this gets built in pieces, right? And then we built our processes to our strategy or we’re doing things internally and then we try and fit it to the customer. So from an operational standpoint, how do you get to that authenticity at scale? How do you actually then operationalize the customer experience when really for most of us, we haven’t built our companies like Amazon, even though we would love to be in some way respect or we started at market share for sure our pet by then you have to have yet. How do you go about doing that?

Mark Floisand:

Yeah, it’s a, it’s a great observation Jeff, and I think we’d all hold out companies like Amazon and Netflix is really, really good examples of what a personal experience feels like. You know, I go to my Netflix queue and the recommendations that are made to me are specific to my tastes. Either because of things I’ve expressively viewed and they have that history or their own machine learning pattern matching has identified things that they can suggest to me that I’m probably gonna like. And so that degree of authenticity that is unique and specific to me and my account really, really is, is a, is a, I wouldn’t say a high bar, it’s a difficult thing to attain, but it’s the expectation of us as consumers now that’s the norm in terms of consumer expectation. So you’re absolutely right. There’s this big gap between what we as consumers have come to know and love over the last, you know, decade of increasingly personalized, more relevant engagements and, and the lag of most brands aren’t there yet because as you point out, they’ve been building things in silos for good reasons.

You know, from a marketing point of view, I, I’m as guilty as any of having, look, I look back in my career and can point to, we bought a tool to do X or an application to do Y or something else to do Z or Z depending on where in the world you are and, and the, each of those systems was, was invested in or subscribed to for the best will in the world and did something specific. But what they also tend to do is gather up interaction data specific to that. So it may be, it’s an email system, maybe it’s a social media measurement system, maybe it’s a web content management system under the hood. They’re all gathering up infraction data, but it’s siloed. And so ironically as marketeers as we’ve striven to, you know, by the next hot widgety thing to do some new way of interacting with customers in a quest to delight them.

We’re actually making the problem worse by creating yet another application silo with yet another little pocket of disconnected data and where we losing sight of our, of our customers. And so, so what’s the remedy? You know, you go back, you can, you know, you can YouTube this stuff and find that, you know, Jeff Bezos did an interview with 60 minutes, like a decade ago, two decades ago, where he basically said, we’re investing in gathering this information because it’s going to help us be more helpful to our customers 20 years back. Well, here we are. Fast forward today and you know, they’re one of the most valuable assets on the planet. And how do other brands do this? I guess I’d advocate fundamentally two things. One is recognize that across all of those different systems and repositories, there’s information and content that could be put to better use in the service of customers.

There’s product information files in a web content management system. There are PDF documents on a Google drive someplace. There’s a service history records in a customer database. There’s a product information in a shopping catalog. All of these things exist in just about every brand but then not unified. And so as a starting point, thinking about technology that can connect to those different things and unify that content into something that can apply relevance, that can start to compare documents, whether they’re, you know, structured or instruct, it doesn’t matter but, but really unified that content into something that can become an asset.

And then the sec, the second piece of this of course is going back to that interaction data. How to also stitch that stuff together, how to join the dots and ultimately create a view of all the customer journeys, all the employee journeys for that matter and all the prospect journeys that existed across that organization. Those two sets of data can be fed into machine learning tools that really bring the computer horsepower as you rightly point out to do this stuff at scale. No one’s doing these things by hand anymore. In our Amazon with a billion customers is not handcrafting a recommendation to you or I, you know, it is entirely systems driven with probabilities and algorithms…

Jeff Pedowitz:

It would be a funny image, right? Like hey, I’ve got 50 people in a room, like someone’s online buying a toaster like quick, quick, so it’s running up with a slip, like a ticker tape. Like I typed this out. Yeah. So they don’t have the computer itself. So let’s, I’m curious, let’s shift to stewardship and trust because you know, in the last year or even in the last two weeks, like this is a breach at target. And now there is one more story about Facebook, how they’ve been selling our, our private messaging data to tech companies for years, including Amazon and Apple and, and others. So I think as consumers will only give up some privacy of, there is a benefit, but it doesn’t also get a little scary. So if you want that intimacy, but, and then you want to have that relationship with, with, with a brand, but then you don’t really have a lot of control over what’s happening with your information behind the scenes. So how do you develop a trusting relationship with a brand and how do we do that with the customer? And how do we I guess give them reassurance that we’re protecting their information?

Mark Floisand:

Right? And I think, you know, this kind of three angles to this one is those aggregators of information and in broader strokes who services may be free. But, you know, the cliche is of course the, you know, you as the user that you’re the product. There are the brands who are interested in, you know, selling you their iPhone or laptop or whatever it happens to be. And there are, of course, you know, us as consumers, the individuals that, you know, in the center of this thing. And I think what behooves every brand, again, to the beginning of where we started this notion of you have to have integrity and authenticity in everything you do. If you feel that you are acquiring data that gives you an unauthorized view or an lens and insight into a customer that they wouldn’t willingly have shared with you themselves, you know, you should be questioning that, right?

One of the challenges I think we have as consumers is that our ability to really understand what we by default make public is, is just not widely grasped. Most of the services that we as consumers sign up for by default expose an immense amount of information unless you go in and turn it off, whether it’s Facebook or whatever. And there’s just not that acumen perhaps. So that willingness to, you know, even invest the time to go in and, and really get a grip on how much information by default you’re actually automatically sharing. I think people get surprised when they actually see for the first time how much of, you know, their own history has been made public and shared and is therefore now in the public domain for keeps. So, so there’s a personal responsibility to this as well, which is if I don’t want people using my personal information, I should probably try and lock it down.

Jeff Pedowitz:

And are you using your product internally for yourself?

Mark Floisand:

Great question. We are indeed. We started on a journey of this basically beginning of what are we 20 yards? So beginning of this year we’ve used it internally extensively. And we use our products in our own workplace enablement to help our employees to become more proficient in a way that many of our customers do as well. So this isn’t just for external facing stuff, this is equally for internal, you know, data sources and so on. So we’ve been using Coveo internally for years. But really the beginning of that year we started applying it in anger to our own website to ensure that we were making recommendations of content.

Given that most of our customers are our business buyers, they’re not really looking to transact online, but they are looking to find more relevant information about the problems we help them solve on our site. And so why not use our own technology to recommend assets? Not only are they likely to find interesting, but there are other people like them have found interesting and have proven to be of use. And that’s the essence of what this does. The machine learning process under the hood learns what good outcomes are and therefore recommends things that have proven to be useful to others. And it’s that cycle that one wants to ultimately be able to enable within your systems.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Good stuff. Well Mark, I could probably talk to you about customer experience all day long. So we’ll be following your success over at Coveo, and thanks for being on the program today.

Mark Floisand:

Jeff, it’s been a pleasure. Thanks for the time.

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