A successful OpenTalk 2018 indeed! After hosting their 3rd annual conference, TalkDesk exceeded all previous milestones with record-breaking attendance, speaker, and sponsorship numbers.

This year’s theme was on the “why, how, and what” your company can do to create customer experience magic moments that lower effort and increase retention. The agenda was jam-packed with thought-provoking keynotes and breakout sessions focused on uncovering competitive advantages and transforming routine conversations into amazing customer experiences.

After sitting through many of the sessions, I noticed a recurring theme that led to these magic moments: a blended approach. As analytics have overtaken opinion, at least with regard to measuring the customer’s experience, a need to reconnect with customers at a human level has been pushed to the forefront.

But how do you blend an objective, data-driven strategy with a subjective customer experience? The answer seems dependent on the focus; but clearly, the missing link in reduced effort and a customer’s success is within the blended world.

Photo of Steve Jobs painting from from OpenTalk 2018

5 ways to blend data and experiences

  1. Start with your internal customer
  2. Scale sentiment through shared experiences
  3. Define roles and responsibilities
  4. Use automation to assist human interactions
  5. Remember that digital customer experiences require human support

1. Start with your internal customer

Nicolle Paradise from ADP held a riveting opening keynote on how to measure internal happiness as a way to increase effective and efficient customer experiences.

She started off with a goosebumps-inducing statistic: companies invest a staggering $1 trillion annually to better understand their customers, but only $750 million to understand their employees. This investment gap leads to a loss of engagement, alignment, and loyalty.

Not leveraging technology to understand employee behavior on happiness, loyalty, and ownership creates an imbalance in the human ecosystem that leads to poor customer experiences and churn. Nicolle said, “What you look for, you find,” so you have to look for employee empathy, it doesn’t just fall into your lap.

Nicolle definitely pushed the point that healthy chickens lay healthy eggs, increasing the consumer’s health along the way. Meaning, if you take care of your employees, your employees will take care of your customers, and your customers will take care of your revenue.

2. Scale sentiment through shared experiences

Bridging empathy and technology to challenge customers is not a want any longer, it is a must. Technology has allowed us to understand the customer journey better than ever before, providing insights into customer concerns, needs, and desires. And empathy delivers a “customer voice” not manipulated by your company objectives.

To really know your customers, you need to blend both technology and empathy to effectively hear and interpret feedback, and then leverage it to scale effectiveness. We discussed how to combine the technology you have, self-service tools, and the “true” empathetic voice of your customer to scale your reach and challenge your entire customer base. The result is an increase in profitability and growth for both your company and customers.

Photo from Ari Hoffman's presentation at OpenTalk 2018

3. Define roles and responsibilities

Weaving the thread of Customer Experience and Customer Success requires defined roles and responsibilities to adequately blend efforts. Melinda Gonzalez of MGCX Advisors and Christina Crawford Kosmowski of Slack took us through a resurgence and explosion of the CX industry. This is evidenced by the emergence of titles such as Chief Customer Experience Officer. A similar boom is happening in Customer Success Management, an industry born out of the rise of B2B Software as a Service (SaaS).

Both of these functions are highly cross-functional. Both exist to increase value for customers and the company. And both serve as the customer advocate for the business. But while they may appear interchangeable, they are quite different. So, you must make investments in defining and outlining the congruences to cultivate a customer-centric mindset in your company (to blend the efforts achieved by both).

4. Use automation to assist human interactions

The closing keynote panel was on the integration of automation and human-assisted support to create customer experience magic moments. It was moderated by Beth Schultz, while the panel consisted of Tiffani Bova (Salesforce), Des Cahill (Oracle), Ari Hoffman (hey, that’s me from MindTouch), and Marlene Summers (Zuora). This was not your typical hype-cycle talk on AI, chatbots, or machine learning.

Panel discussion at OpenTalk 2018

The addition of automation is here, and you are either learning to leverage or struggling to incorporate it to enhance your customer’s experience.

A primary focus was on the strategic steps taken to blend automation and human brain power. This starts with prepping your self-service content for automation and ends with an approach to blending human-assisted support. By atomizing your content into sufficient-to-solve formats, you ensure that it can be consumed across platforms, devices, and in varying orders tailored for individual customer experiences. It’s a structure that humans can create and automation can deliver upon, creating a holistic approach to customer experience magic moments.

5. Remember that digital customer experiences require human support

Nitin Badjatia from ServiceNow covered how a digitally enabled world needs to blend product and service excellence. He stated that, according to predictions by the IDC, by 2020, over half of the revenue of the top 50% of the Global Fortune 2k will be digitally delivered. This represents a fundamental shift in how and where companies derive their growth. This shift will also require reimagining customer service.

In an always on, always connected world, companies have the power to understand the context of use of their products and services like never before. More importantly, digitally connected customers expect a higher level of blended service.

Service excellence today is focused on continuous value delivery, so customer service can no longer be reactive; customer service must go on offense to deliver an effortless, connected, and proactively blended experience.


There is no single source of truth, but with the emergence of automation, the scalability of technology, and the drive of customer focus, you must blend the lines between strategies to deliver exceptional customer experiences. If you are looking for the tools and tactics leveraged by the best in the business on blending customer experiences, OpenTalk Customer Experience Conference is a must attend.

Special shout-out!

Thank you, Lori Stout, for being there for every single one of us. You are an excellent example of how to deliver magic moments, time and time again. TalkDesk is lucky to have you.

Additional categories: Customer Experience, Industry Trends, News & Events