“We regularly look at the data to make decisions on some of our demand gen and tactical movements, but our stories, content, and messaging all come from the voice of the customer/prospect.”
Sherri, can you tell us about your professional background and your current role at OvationCXM?
It’s been a wild ride! By degree, I am a broadcast journalism major and a business minor. However, when I graduated from George Mason University, it was during “The Great Recession,” and it was a tough time being in the job hunt. After interviewing for my “dream jobs” and getting passed over, I started broadening my horizons and applying to positions related to my degrees. I had college loans to start paying on quickly, so I was fortunate to be offered a job as a sales rep for a government distributor – ADS, Inc. What I thought would be a quick stint became an amazing four-year experience in sales, selling to the U.S. military.
In hindsight, starting my career in sales was the best thing for me. I was able to experience what it was like to have great marketing support and, at times, little support. It became the foundation for how I’ve approached managing Marketing teams.
After ADS, I transitioned to Marketing and have spent most of my career in startup and scale-up organizations, building teams from the ground up. I started with product marketing and grew into managing Marketing departments. I’ve always taken that sales background from my first job and made it a driving force in ensuring my Marketing teams have great bridges to the product development departments and the sales organization.
Now, I am the Head of Marketing at OvationCXM, managing a team of incredible marketers focused on growing our brand and building a new category within CXM. Since I joined, we’ve built the Marketing team from the ground up, rebranded our company (we were formerly known as Boomtown), built a new website, launched new value proposition messaging and content, and more. Shew! It’s been extremely rewarding to look back at what this brand-new team has accomplished since May of 2022. (And the best is yet to come.)
How does OvationCXM differentiate itself from other companies in the same space?
Although other companies share the same broad CX space with us, our platform uniquely differs in how we empower customer experience management.
Customer journeys have become more and more complex. Gone are the days of taking a customer from point A to point Z in just a few steps. There are more tools in an organization’s tech stack and more third-party partners that also influence/touch the customer. We purpose-built our CXM platform to equip organizations with drag-and-drop customer journey orchestration and a marketplace of tech and third-party connectors to build and connect your ecosystem in minutes. In other software offerings, organizations have a platform for Marketing that may build marketing journeys, a platform for sales teams that may build an “optimal” sales journey, and another for the support team. But they don’t easily connect, require multiple IT admins to manage and configure, and require a ton of license purchases to ensure everyone can “see” the journey across departments. That real-life scenario I just described causes broken customer handoffs between departments, zero lifecycle view of the customer, more technical debt, frustrated (bounced around) customers, revenue leakage, churn, and increased IT support costs. But not with us.
Our journey orchestration is for every department, use case, internal system, and external third-party to connect – with unlimited users. And it’s no-code so organizations can go live within 60-90 days. It’s built so anyone in the organization can create, manage, adjust and analyze complex journeys. Business lines know their customers best – so it makes sense to empower them to take ownership over CX in real time vs. waiting for IT help that could be months away. It also frees up IT so they can remain laser-focused on strategic projects that are a priority.
We also infuse conversational and generative AI into our platform to take customer experience to another level. Think more intelligent web chat conversations, right place/right time knowledge delivery, customer, journey, and case summarizations, insights, and suggestions. These are just a few of AI’s capabilities to make internal teams more efficient, drive down costs, and increase customer (and employee) satisfaction scores.
We believe by integrating vital CX functionalities in one place, we equip teams with powerful tools that make them more efficient and agile.
The balance between creativity and data-driven decision-making is crucial in marketing. How do you approach this balance to ensure your campaigns are both innovative and effective?
The data doesn’t always tell you the story. And there are multiple attribution points to a buyer’s journey – if you go by the end data point, you don’t always get the full story. I think it’s important to look at what the data is presenting, but you also must talk to the buyers. You learn so much qualitative information by sitting down and listening to what your prospects and customers value, having pain points around, thinking about your brand, and more.
We regularly look at the data to make decisions on some of our demand gen and tactical movements, but our stories, content, and messaging all come from the voice of the customer/prospect. It’s a true blend of qualitative and quantitative decision-making.
How does the OvationCXM Platform, CXMEngine, assist businesses in improving customer experiences? What are some of its key components?
We are truly a one-stop shop for CX management. We allow organizations to see and control their end-to-end journey across different organizations, which was impossible before. Then, using our solution, they can design and guide the best possible journeys using no-code tools and AI that’s infused across the platform so their processes are more intelligent and efficient. Our key components are:
- Journeys: drag-and-drop journey orchestration for the entire customer lifecycle
- Ecosystem: third-party partner and internal tech connectors to plug into your journeys for complete visbility
- Conversational & generative AI – intelligent web chat, customer and case summarizations for automation, efficiency, and an enhanced experience
- Knowledge – create knowledge articles (or import existing) and serve up right place, right time knowledge within the journey
This aggregation of CX in one platform breaks down data silos, provides analytics in real-time so you can make data-driven decisions, empower employees, increase operational efficiencies with AI capabilities, and transform the customer experience. Our customers have experienced 60% increases in NPS scores, 20% increases in wallet growth, 25% reductions in support costs, and more.
Recently OvationCXM Incorporates ChatGPT Into Its CXM Platform – How does it contribute to improving customer experience personalization?
Customers expect only the best of their digital services, and they expect it quickly. While some argue that AI responses can be inaccurate or generalized, the speed at which the response is delivered and the conversational tone is something to behold. What separates ChatGPT from a typical chatbot is its ability to really understand the conversation if appropriately prompted, detect tone and mimic a more human conversational experience. Nobody likes to feel like they are interacting with a pre-determined set of auto responses.
We believe the best experiences come by incorporating ChatGPT with our additional AI engines that we already use in our conversational AI capabilities so that they can be fine-tuned to give guidance, guardrails and focus them specifically on questions and issues that an organization’s customers have. This combination reduces the time it takes a customer to get the answers they need for instant support.
Beyond chat, we are also incorporating it into our CXM platform so that an organization’s employees can provide better knowledge delivery, insights on customer journeys, summarization of customer and case information so that internal users of our platform can respond to customers faster with more confidence and a more personalized experience.
In a rapidly changing digital landscape, how do you ensure that your marketing strategies remain relevant and effective for enhancing customer experiences?
My goodness, marketing changes so quickly. What was best a year ago isn’t what is best now and won’t be what’s best next year. That’s what makes marketing so much fun – it’s ever-evolving. What’s become apparent year-over-year is that buyers want to do their own research and do self-guided discovery without ever talking to a sales rep until they are sure they want to “buy” or really see a demo. Don’t send them to a sales rep just because they read a white paper or case study. Give them as much education and self-guidance as possible, then support them when they’re ready.
For us, that means videos have been a critical part of our marketing strategy this year. Micro (1 minute or less), short-form, and long-form video content have been our focus so that buyers have an easier way to interact with our brand and learn about what value we bring without making them read a very long ebook. Attention spans have shortened – give the people what they want! Quick and easy to digest. Now, there is always a play from an SEO perspective to have longer written content, but we want to drive video education in various channels to meet the buyers where they are. (We’ve even seen great YouTube SEO success with our videos – hit ‘em with both written and video!)
What advice would you give to other leaders which helped you personally? Q. What is the biggest problem you or your team is solving this year?
I truly believe in lifting up your team. I’ll never forget going through my first management training program when I became a first-time manager. Our CEO came into the room on our “graduation day” and said, “Always remember, never bloody or bruise the knuckles of the people climbing the ladder behind you. Always raise them up.” It’s a statement I’ve never forgotten. As leaders, we need to ensure we help our teams grow. Celebrate their successes. Don’t micro-manage them. Put your trust in them. Give them the path to succeed.
This year, our team is dedicated to growing our brand awareness and educating the market in our customer experience management (CXM) category, as it is new and not widely known. We are a unique offering that requires a lot of education. There are niche solutions out there utilizing a lot of the same terminology, SEO, etc., that we play in yet do not offer the same solutions so it is very much a chess game in a crowded SEO and advertising space.
Is there anything that you’re currently reading, or any favorite books, that you’d Recommend?
One of my favorites I read a few years back that was impactful was “Why Johnny can’t Brand” by Bill Schley and Carl Nichols, Jr. When you’re in a startup organization (or even a newly created marketing department for a small company), branding and building your identity is critical. The book offers thought-provoking questions and guidelines to push your critical thinking when building out a brand to stand on its own.
Sherri Schwartz is the Head of Marketing at OvationCXM. With over 15 years of experience in sales, corporate communications, product marketing, and leadership, Sherri is responsible for creating and accelerating the company’s marketing strategy and brand recognition across the globe.
Sherri started her career in sales, selling to the DOD and Federal government with ADS, Inc. Following a successful career in sales, Sherri obtained over a decade of B2B SaaS fintech experience scaling for growth and global expansion. No stranger to the SaaS startup environment, Sherri established and built multiple new marketing functions and teams across her previous roles at FHN Financial, nCino, Opendorse, Zafin, and First Orion. She has strong cultural competence in developing and leading global teams. As part cheerleader and change-maker, Sherri has demonstrated success in recognizing and maximizing individual and cross-functional team strengths and creating a winning environment.
She earned a B.A. in Communications from George Mason University with an emphasis in journalism and business administration. Sherri lives in Collierville, Tennessee, with her husband and two sons.
OvationCXM is the Customer Experience Management (CXM) company helping businesses and their partner ecosystems deliver exceptional customer experiences with complete visibility and precise control so they can own the journey, guide the experience and unleash the benefits. The OvationCXM Platform, CXMEngine, includes pre-built CRM connectors, customer journey orchestration and automation tools, ecosystem aggregation, as well as knowledge delivery and integrated communication solutions in one seamless platform.