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M.R. Asks 3 Questions: Louis Têtu, CEO, Coveo

By June 21, 2019Article

The experiences customers and employees have with brands like Netflix, Amazon, Uber and Google are raising the bar for every company in the digital world. People now expect personalized, relevant information every time they interact with a company – in their private lives or in the workplace.

Whether you call it, “digital transformation”, or “customer experience innovation” – many CEOs prioritize digital initiatives as the “silver bullet” to grow their business and improve employee and customer satisfaction. But when I sat with Coveo CEO and Chairman, Louis Tetu, the reason he feels not everyone sees results is because of relevance.

M.R. Rangaswami: How would you describe the importance of relevance in customer experiences?

Louis Tetu: Relevance, simply put, is in the eyes of the beholder. In other words, what is relevant to one person in a given situation might be completely irrelevant to another.

People interact digitally because they want one of five things: learn, buy, watch, fix something or connect with someone, and businesses must satisfy them within sub-seconds. Digital success is binary at every interaction: either you provide a relevant interaction either you don’t. There is no in between, and business is only the sum total of the effective, successful interactions that convert or satisfy people.

Your customers will either find what they want and buy or pop a new window and leave to look elsewhere. They will either self-serve or log a call, and be satisfied with your service, or frustrated by an escalation process, ultimately leaving your brand. Your employees will either find information to gain proficiency for the task or disturb their colleagues, reinvent the wheel and be less effective. People expect immediate relevance because time is their most valued resource. They know they can because digital leaders have raised the bar of the new normal, using AI, and thus digital patience has become an oxymoron.

Choice is the new commodity, as especially for digital natives switching brands is easier and more volatile than ever. Don’t think that you can accomplish this with segmentation! Back in the day, you could work with 10 personas for one million people to which you offered 10 different experiences. Today, you must aim every single person, you have to offer a million experiences for a million people. The businesses who will succeed in the next decade are those that will use the power of AI to deliver relevance at every micro-event. This was unimaginable before AI, in the former world of data models and rule-based software.

M.R.: What impact do you feel AI will have on our economy?

Louis: I don’t want to put this lightly: we are entering an AI-takes-all economy. AI is a game-changer and its transformational impact is profound. AI will create winners and losers, perhaps more brutally than previous major waves of digital innovation such as the internet, mobility, cloud computing, or big data and analytics.

World-class digital leaders are disrupting every single industry because they’re capable of delivering a relevant experience that resonates to every person. They are aligned around serving individuals, and they can deliver the experiences their customers and employees expect. And they’re doing it by harnessing the power of data and machine learning.

No company can afford to ignore AI. It is the only way to deliver the relevant interactions every individual who does business with you expects.

It’s not good enough to simply convert analog business processes into digital ones. This is where many leaders go wrong. Instead of simply transforming to be more digital, you need to transform to be more relevant every time, in a way that is tailored to every single person interacting with you. Relevant according to them, so they get what they want, the way they want it, where and when they want it, and you win. Segmentation is no longer enough, businesses need to move from persona to persons, and fast.

M.R: How does understanding ‘relevance’ bring value to customers and employees?

Louis: Every CEO I know has three priorities: growth; customers and people. They want more revenue conversion, more customer satisfaction and cost-effective, and proficient employees who can do more on their own. Relevance brings value in commerce, service and workplace, by delivering the right information to every person at the exact right time and in context.

In commerce, AI and relevance mean many more sales conversions. It also enables your marketing teams to use data and be agile, so they can deploy more adaptive strategies at scale.

In service, AI empowers your support organization to deliver more relevant customer experiences at every interaction AND to decrease the costs. Your customers will be able to find what he/she seeks on an online self-service platform. If they don’t, they will call an agent, and this agent will be able to give them the information better and faster. Everybody wins.

In the workplace, relevant knowledge in every employee interaction will empower your organization. You’ll win employees that are more engaged and productive.

There are different degrees of relevance in the interactions you are offering to your customers or employees when they are looking for something on one of your platforms. Reactive interaction means siloed information, it offers no relevance at all. Responsive interaction means that you are able to provide rich answers based on search or questions. Proactive interaction includes suggestions, based on their needs, given their context. Predictive interaction offers recommendations, AI and machine learning to detect intent anticipating what else might be useful for them, and it gets better at each interaction because it learns from their behavior.

At Coveo, we’re in the business of “what you want”, “what you need” and “what you need next.” And using the power of AI, we can enable businesses to run – not with data – but on data.


M.R. Rangaswami is the Co-Founder of Sand Hill Group.

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