Q&A with Philippe Guiheneuc, Marketing Director at Akio

MEDIA 7 | June 11, 2020

Philippe Guiheneuc is the Marketing Director at Akio, a company that provides customer experience software platforms. It proposes cross-channel solutions that help you with customer engagement management, voice of the customer analysis and brand reputation monitoring.

In this Q&A, Philippe speaks about customer satisfaction, CRM, marketing strategies, challenges, branding, and more.

MEDIA 7: What inspired you to get into Marketing?
PHILIPPE GUIHENEUC:
Coming from a family of officials, farmers and painters, I discovered the world of business at the ESSEC business school in Paris. I carefully avoided three subjects: Computer Science, with its flashy green dashboards on a black background, Accounting, for its remarkable ability to make me lose patience, and Selling, because I could not bear to be told no. Consequently, my first job was to sell accounting software!

Only fools refuse to change their mind. So I may be half intelligent, because althoughI have discovered a passion for businesswith its three components (communication-marketing-sales) and innovation, to the point of teaching storytelling in business schools, unfortunately I remain insensitive to the poetry of a P&L.

That's why I chose to work at Akio. Respect for customers is no longer just a professional obligation but an extraordinary lever for growth. Thanks to the Akio.Cx platform, I contribute a little bit every day to make life easier for customer agents, and that's what makes me happy.

M7: What core issue does Akio.Cx software aim to address and what sets it apart from the competition?
PG:
Akio is the editor of the omnichannel call centre platform Akio.Cx. Our core mission is to turn complexity into simplicity!

In the context of increased competition, the quality of the response delivered to clients has become a major stake for all companies. However, the job of a customer advisor is becoming increasingly complex as customers use new channels to interact with companies.

With the customer service platform Akio.Cx, the customer service will develop a personalised experience for its clients, regardless of which channel they choose (phone, e-mail, chat, social media, etc.), thanks to unified client knowledge that is reinforced by semantic analysis.

In 20 years, Akio has built a solid base of references among the largest French companies (AxaBanque, Banque de France, MGEN, URSSAF, Air France, Interflora, Engie, GrDF; Sarenza, Kiabi, Arkea, BPI France Cora, LPM Dyneff, Grep, Ircem, Photoweb, Sandoz, MTP, VMmag, MSD, CAFAT, CGSS, OPT, Bruneau, AMDM, etc.)

Initially, the platform was provided ‘on-premise’, then through a ‘hybrid’ model, and since 2017 it’s provided as a ‘SaaS’ tool.

Recently, Akio announced a global partnership with Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise that will offer the Akio.Cx platform to all of its 800,000 customers. This alliance is coupled with a project linked to the notion of the "augmented agent", i.e. high-tech tools made available to customer service representatives to facilitate their work and help them gain in efficiency.


"Corporate executives have realised that with the web and social networks, a dissatisfied customer can create a devastating effect by communicating his dissatisfaction to all his contacts."

M7: How are your customer and prospect needs and values changing? How will these changes affect the decision-making of customers and prospects? What are the best methods followed by your marketing team at Akio to capture these shifts and trends quickly and reliably?
PG:
Our decision-makers are the Customer Relationship Managers. They manage platforms for customer agents, their objective being to ensure customer satisfaction, while improving contact centre productivity. This is a balancing act, all the more difficult as the pressure increases every day. In fact, corporate executives have realised that with the web and social networks, a dissatisfied customer can create a devastating effect by communicating his dissatisfaction to all his contacts.

Company value is directly correlated to customer satisfaction, as shown for years by the ACSI (American Customer Satisfaction Index), which is increasingly used by financial analysts to predict a company's short-term stock market value.

As a result, in recent years, customer services have been receiving increasingly large budgets for modernisation. These budgets concern in particular the acquisition of software such as Akio.Cx. According to Gartner, Customer experience (CX) and CRM posted the highest growth among all application software markets, and remained the largest enterprise software market in 2018, with more than $48.2 billion in sales.

At the same time, the customer relationship business is becoming increasingly complex. Customer service agents have to manage extensive catalogues of offers.

Regulations are constantly changing and expanding, forcing them to comply with increasingly cumbersome procedures. Customers are more demanding (an Akio-LSA study has shown that two-thirds of them are ready to change brand if they are not satisfied from the first interaction). Above all, the channels of exchange are multiplying. In addition to the telephone, traditional post and email, chat, Facebook Messenger and Twitter are being added, and soon other channels such as video or instant messaging.

Understanding this evolution is essential for Akio to continue to offer adapted and efficient offers to its customers. To achieve this, we privilege three axes of development:

- Contact with our customers, in the form of monthly meetings and quarterly workshops to discuss business perspectives. Of course, these exchanges are complemented by the daily relations that our Customer Success Managers maintain with our customers.

- Observation of the analyses reported by our ecosystem of partners, in particular the reports and white papers published by analysts such as Gartner, Forrester, Forbes, IDC and Markess, along with our competitor’s literature.

- Finally, studies carried out by Akio, most often in partnership with a specialist, to better understand a specific point on which there is no survey or study. In particular, we were the first to identify that the well-being of their teams was more important to the Customer Relationship Managers than the achievement of customer satisfaction objectives.

M7: How do you approach branding your company, its products, and services? What’s your go-to resource – websites, newsletters, any other to stay in touch with the critical changes occurring in the digital space?
PG:
When it comes to branding, the first step is to develop a clear message. This message reflects the company's vision, which is based on our understanding of the needs of the market, as well as the promise of value and the guarantee that this promise will be kept. Akio's core message (see the answer to your 2nd question) is the guiding line of all our communications.

It is declined in several ways depending on the audience we address, the situation and the delivery method used. We use both traditional media such as brochures, emailing campaigns or stands attrade shows, as well as more original formats (infographics, workbooks, forums, demonstration videos...). More generally, although our clients are sensitive to traditional approaches, our marketing is evolving towards more digital. The other major trend is the production of content, for which we strive to maintain a high level of quality. Whether it is an article, a white paper or a study, each new content produced by Akio must bring something never heard, such as a new information or an innovative analysis.


"With an ever-increasing level of customer demand, software editors, like all companies, have an interest in proving that they are selling not just a product but a complete experience."

M7: Can you share some top challenges that contact centres face when transitioning to an omnichannel approach?
PG:
They are of three types: strategic, managerial and technological.

- Strategic: The goals that customer service sets for itself by adding new interaction channels will have an impact on the way they are implemented. For example, our customer DHL implemented the chat channel in addition to phone and email, originally to reach a specific audience of digital natives. But the new channel was quickly adopted by a large part of their audience, so they had to set new productivity targets to compare the effectiveness of the different channels and measure the performance of the omnichannel approach, such as the ability of the agent to process a request more quickly using multiple channels.

- Managerial: The skills for answering a call are not the same as those for writing an email, or responding to a Facebook message. Therefore, the contact centre has the choice between recruiting multi-skilled advisors and training them to use all channels or building teams that are specialised by channel. The second type of organisation does not prevent an omnichannel approach as long as the tool used allows on the one hand to centralise all the information in a customer file, and on the other hand to share it between agents. So far, the choice seems to depend essentially on the existing organisation and the willingness of management to decompartmentalize the channels.

- Technological: Although it seems obvious that an omnichannel approach must be based on omnichannel software, few software programs are actually really omnichannel. Most of them pile up technological bricks that communicate with each other. This is enough for the daily life of customer service agents, but such tools, which are not very agile, quickly become fragile as soon as they need to be upgraded. In addition, they do not offer consolidated statistics across all channels, which limits the measurement of customer service performance.

M7: What lessons have you learnt from your time at Master 2 Marketing that you have applied to the marketing strategies at Akio?
PG:
I teach digital communication and brand content in Master 2 marketing in a business school in Paris. Contrary to Akio, whose activity is 100% B2B, brand content, which I practiced a lot in a previous experience, is B2C oriented. More generally, the notion of "brand" is insufficiently exploited among software publishers. However, with an ever-increasing level of customer demand, software editors, like all companies, have an interest in proving that they are selling not just a product but a complete experience.

At Akio, I helped accelerate this marketing transformation. Our marketing and sales discourse was very technical, very product-oriented; it remains so, but we have added a "customer experience" dimension. For example, instead of listing the product functionalities in the form of concepts and benefits ("Integrates an AI engine", "Workflow management", "Report generator") we now present the functionalities as part of the user journey in the form of a graphic design

At a strategic level, we redefined Akio’s communication guidelines based on the essential message, then redesigned all our marketing supports and campaigns according to those guidelines. This gives consistency to our communication and helps audiences remember Akio.


"When it comes to branding, the first step is to develop a clear message. This message reflects the company's vision, which is based on our understanding of the needs of the market, as well as the promise of value and the guarantee that this promise will be kept."

M7: How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your work - what day to day processes have you had to re-tool to be able to pull them off remotely? What does your remote tech stack look like?
PG:
As an IT company, Akio is well equipped for teleworking - some of the teams were already doing it long before the coronavirus crisis. Because we work in the field of customer relations, we regularly manage sensitive periods with our customers, for instance when they face a peak inactivity. The period of lockdown and the lifting of lockdown have therefore not caused any major upheaval in our business. For example, Akio has not had to use the administrative unemployment scheme; on the contrary, we seek at all times to increase the production capacity of the teams.

This is particularly true of the teams of IT developers, because they are organised in Agile mode, a work organisation that easily adapts to remote working.

M7: How does Akio manage multiple marketing divisions effectively? What type of storytelling experiences do you produce for social media channels?
PG:
Akio is an SME with a small marketing team, which facilitates a horizontal management where each marketer is responsible for his own scope of activity. Regarding our actions on social networks, we try to respect the spirit of web 2.0, namely "give to get": our contents and stories are intended to bring information or entertainment to the public, with no other counterpart than brand valorisation.

For example, we produced a study on how contact centres were organised to deal with the coronavirus crisis. Following a survey of nearly 60 customer relationship managers, we published an analytical report that provides useful trends on management options and technological choices made to deal with the crisis. This report, in French, has been made freely available to the market and was shared on social networks. 

M7: Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise Selects Akio to Deliver New CCaaS Hybrid Offering. What is your role in meeting partnership expectations? How do you go about assessing their needs?
PG:
The collaboration of the marketing department in this alliance project focused on the study of needs and the definition of offers.

An important part of the study work was carried out upstream of the discussions by the marketing teams of each partner. It was mainly a question of comparing and aligning our visions of the market. A few meetings were necessary, but in fact the analysis of the two companies was very close and this part of the work was easy.
More complicated was the definition of the offer, since each of our products propose a wide range of features.

As this is a high-tech field, using various engineering techniques (telephony, digital techniques, collaborative tools, cloud...), product marketing was largely driven by the Product Owners of the two partners. Along with the development and infrastructure engineers, they drew the outlines of what the new offer will be. Marketing and communication had an advisory role. It helped to maintain the consistency of the offer with the expression of market needs, and will also contribute, in due course, to making this offer known to the public through a coordinated plan of communication actions.

M7: If I were to say to a bunch of people who know you, ‘Give me three adjectives that best describe you,’ what would I hear?
PG:
Maybe committed, cerebral and enthusiastic.
As with everyone else, none of these adjectives are easy to hold. Keeping on course with the essential line of one's existence is a constant struggle.

ABOUT AKIO

Customers are everywhere and can contact the brand at any time, through any available channel.

The Akio.Cx platform by Akio allows your Customer Relation teams to deliver an omnichannel customer experience: telephone, e-mails, chat, Facebook Messenger and Twitter are natively unified in one user-friendly single tool.

Call centres and outsourcers, worldwide, are using the AI powered Akio.Cx platform and its Analytics module to enhance their agents and transform supervisors & managers into client satisfaction super-heroes!

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Faye Launches Partnership with Asana to Expand Project Management Solution Offerings

Faye | September 23, 2022

Faye, today announced it has joined Asana Partners, expanding Asana’s global Channel Partner network of trusted providers offering professional services to ensure success with Asana. Asana Partners help companies of all sizes enhance and advance their digital transformation efforts, enabling them to deploy with confidence, learn from experts and gain access to custom solutions. Featuring partnerships with industry leaders, Asana’s global Channel network connects customers with leading solutions, reseller, and systems integrator experts in 75 countries to eliminate information silos and help organizations coordinate their work with clarity. Hand-selected for their capabilities in enterprise software and change management, partners offer professional and technical services to ensure success for distributed workers, from deploying Asana to setting up workflows to building custom solutions. Undergoing a rigorous certification program, partners offer training and resources covering a wide range of needs and skills, across teams and time zones. From planning and prioritizing projects, to setting goals and staying aligned, Channel Partnership organizations fast track their digital transformation efforts. Through this partnership, Faye is able to help clients implement, set up, and customize their Asana software and workflows, train and onboard employees to the new platform, and even integrate Asana with other critical technologies in their tech stack like CRM or CX software. By partnering with Asana, Faye enables their clients to move faster and coordinate work effortlessly, no matter where their employees are located. “The Faye team is excited to be a part of the Asana partner network,” said David Faye, CEO at Faye. “The Faye team is excited to be a part of the Asana partner network,” said David Faye, CEO at Faye. “At Faye, we make the best software in the world even better, and with our Asana services it’s no different. We are excited to help our clients take full advantage of the Asana platform with our skilled configuration, implementation, and integration services. This partnership further enables us to drive efficiency, automation, and simplicity in our clients’ tech stacks.” “We’re thrilled that Faye has joined Asana Partners, expanding our global Channel Partner network to help our customers accelerate their use of Asana and achieve success, whether they’re collaborating in-person or remotely,” said Mary-Patton Eisen, Global Head of Channel Partnerships, Asana. “Our trusted Channel Partners, including Faye, are enabling our customers to unlock more value from Asana by providing them with a single platform for distributed work that enables them to move faster and coordinate their work seamlessly, no matter where they are located.” Asana helps more than 131,00 paying customers and millions of free organizations in over 200 countries orchestrate their work, from small projects to strategic initiatives. Leading companies rely on Asana to manage everything from company objectives to digital transformation to product launches and marketing campaigns. For more information about Asana Partners and how it can benefit your business, visit: https://asana.com/partners Join Faye and Asana on September 27 at 9:00 AM PT at our webinar, Connecting Asana & Office365 to Reduce Your “Work About Work”: https://fayebsg.zoom.us/webinar/register/9516637756665/WN_69U2x3lQTZadR6H9L8v3EQ Original press release can be found here About Faye Faye is a global leader in software strategy, deployment, integrations, and ongoing management for mid-market to enterprise organizations, working with customers in over 25 countries to integrate SugarCRM, Zendesk, Salesforce, HubSpot, Asana, and more into complex tech stacks. An Inc. 5000 award winner nine years in a row, Faye is an experienced CRM, CX, and bot advisor, trusted by customers and channel partners alike. They were recognized as the 2022 SugarCRM President’s Club Partner of the Year and as the 2022 Zendesk Vertical Solutions Partner of the Year. Faye offers a variety of Asana services including implementation, training, and ongoing management. For more information about Faye’s Asana services, visit: https://fayedigital.com/asana/

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MARTECH

Grip Security launches first partner program to drive sales of their SaaS application protection

Grip Security | September 27, 2022

Grip is looking to add partners who understand the differentiated value of their offering, and the uniqueness that it will provide to customers looking for improved SaaS security. Grip Security, which makes a SaaS security solution that unifies discovery, access control and data governance, has announced the Grip Security Partner Program. Grip emerged from stealth in April 2021 with a SaaS security solution designed to go beyond the limits of traditional CASBs, while at the same time making it easy to cover a large number of apps, overcoming a problem that exploded with the number of apps where many apps were simply not covered. “The company has grown by 300% and has seen a 500% growth in engagements with Fortune 500 companies,” said Lior Yaari, Grip Security’s CEO. “The company has grown by 300% and has seen a 500% growth in engagements with Fortune 500 companies,” said Lior Yaari, Grip Security’s CEO. “There has been a lot of change and a lot market change.” Because SaaS is closely tied to identity, Grip made it a top priority to establish deep integrations with as many identity providers as possible. That phase has now been completed. “We have extended our integration to almost every identity provider in the market today – almost a dozen,” Yaari said. “We are now looking at bringing joint offerings with large security vendors to market. Many of these joint integrations have been signed, but have not yet been announced, as we are still building out joint value.” Grip started out briefly selling direct in their proof of concept stage, but the pivot to the channel was in their plans, and that too has already taken place. “We have a channel-focused Go-to-Market strategy,” Yaari stated. “14 is the number of partners that we have right now, and that is growing fast. Our third U.S. hire was our director of channel sales. This is a critical part of our strategy.” The plan is for a fairly rapid channel expansion, not just to work with a small number of partners until they become successful. “We aren’t looking to work with 10,000 partners, but we do want to find enough key partners,” Yaari indicated. “We are not looking for logos on the web site. We are looking for partners who want to work with us so that we can make each other successful, and where they can position themselves as a source of innovation with us.” Insight is one of their initial partners. “With Insight, we are not part of a special innovation program,” Yaari said. “They are an example of a partner that we have a good relationship with, who understand how to drive need and who knows that SaaS is becoming bigger.” The problem many partners face is that since SaaS is relatively new, as they think organizations don’t have the right solutions to fix it, and they themselves lack the right backdrop for channel sales to explain it to the customer. “For the partner, they keys are understanding the problem space, understanding the market and the patching that is used today, and understanding how we are unique and the right questions to ask to get a meeting,” Yaari said. The program begins with a single tier, but Yaari said that they intended to expand that as the program builds out further. Simplicity is a dominant feature of the new program. “Our product is very different from other security products,” said Young-Sae Song, Chief Marketing Officer at Grip. “It takes 10 minutes to install. It is simple enough to be demoed by a channel sales person. You don’t need a technical person with deep training to demo it.” Grip also supports partners with jointly funded programs to promote Grip, as well as co-branded sales materials. Song said that because Grip isn’t heavy like most SaaS solutions, the channel can go to market very quickly with it. “It is probably faster for them than any other enterprise security product,” he stated. It also provides support for more than 20,000 SaaS applications, allows for 80% reduction in analyst workload, and has five times more SaaS application discovery compared to CASBs.

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CHANNEL PARTNERSHIPS

Pyramid Analytics Expands European Systems Integration Channel With Amplifi Partnership

Amplifi, Pyramid Analytics | September 21, 2022

Pyramid Analytics (Pyramid), a pioneering decision intelligence platform provider, and Amplifi, a specialist consultancy providing Advisory, Delivery and Support services for data management, data governance and data quality, today announced a partnership from Big Data LDN, the UK’s largest data and analytics conference. Expanding channel partnerships with complementary technology companies, independent software vendors (ISV), consulting firms, value-added resellers (VAR) and systems integrators (SI) is a strategic priority. Pyramid has expanded its Alliances team and partner recruitment capabilities, invested in partner training and development, and launched joint go to market programs. Key Points: Amplifi provides a portfolio of services across the data management spectrum: Strategy & Advisory; Implementation & Integration; and Managed Services & Support. Partnership enables Amplifi to broaden its service portfolio to include top-rated augmented and prescriptive analytics with the Pyramid Decision Intelligence Platform. Pyramid continues to build a roster of SI and VAR partners to extend market reach and scale. Pyramid is a CRN Channel Awards 2022 finalist in the Emerging Vendor of the Year category which recognises new and emerging organisations which have successfully supported the growth of their channel partners in the UK. To learn more about becoming a Pyramid partner in the UK & Ireland, contact bill.clayton@pyramidanalytics.com. Pyramid Analytics Demonstrates its Commitment to and Value for Channel Partners Channel partners are critical for Pyramid’s ability to continue to grow in a scalable manner, in turn offering them access to pioneering innovative technology that can transform their business. Pyramid understands that for outstanding growth to be achieved for the company and for its channel partners, its partners should be thoroughly supported with training to develop in-depth knowledge and insights. Pyramid’s partner portal is vital in delivering learning, development and growth value for Pyramid and its partners. Decision Intelligence is the Next Big Data Analytics Innovation The next major innovation in analytics is Artificial Intelligence (AI). Applying AI across Data Prep, Business Analytics, and Data Science is what separates Decision Intelligence from traditional business intelligence tools such as Microsoft Power BI, Qlik, and Tableau. AI lowers the skills barrier by automating the highly technical work needed to prepare and analyze data and create and share reports and dashboards. The Pyramid Decision Intelligence Platform delivers data-driven insights for anyone to make faster, more intelligent decisions. The Pyramid Platform provides instant access to any data, enables automated governed self-service for any person, and serves any analytics need, from the simple to the sophisticated. By uniquely combining Data Prep, Business Analytics, and Data Science with AI guidance in a single environment, the Pyramid Platform reduces cost and complexity while accelerating growth and innovation. This enables a strategic, organization-wide approach to Business Intelligence and Analytics. Quotes Bill Clayton, Vice President of Global Partner Sales, Pyramid Analytics: “Amplifi has a proven record of building solid data foundations for customers in a variety of industries. This partnership brings additional vertical expertise and services to Pyramid customers across the UKI and Europe. Importantly, analytics is the catalyst that turns data into intelligent decisions. The combination of the data infrastructure architected, deployed, and managed by Amplifi and the decision intelligence capabilities of the Pyramid Platform are highly complementary and will deliver added value to joint customers.” Mike Evans, Chief Innovation Officer at Amplifi: “Our partnership with Pyramid Analytics is a strategic step for Amplifi as we advance our capabilities and services along the Data Value Chain. Until now, our focus has been on the foundational management of data – from data strategy through to implementation of MDM, PIM and data governance frameworks. Mike Evans, Chief Innovation Officer at Amplifi: “Our partnership with Pyramid Analytics is a strategic step for Amplifi as we advance our capabilities and services along the Data Value Chain. Until now, our focus has been on the foundational management of data – from data strategy through to implementation of MDM, PIM and data governance frameworks. Being able to offer the Pyramid Decision Intelligence Platform to operate on top of that foundation means we’re able to provide increased value to our customers when they’re making business decisions with their data.” About Amplifi Amplifi is the go-to consultancy for Enterprise organizations that want their success to be driven by data. We establish and deliver data strategies that enable global brands to manage, govern and analyse their most important data so they can innovate, grow and succeed. Consistently recognized as a leader by Gartner on the Market Guide for MDM External Service Providers report, Amplifi provides strategic consulting and implementation services for industry leading B2B and B2C companies through its global offices in North America, the UK and Northern Europe. About Pyramid Analytics Pyramid is what’s next in analytics. Our unified decision intelligence platform delivers insights for anyone to make faster, more informed decisions. It provides direct access to any data, enables governed self-service for any person, and serves any analytics need in a no-code environment. The Pyramid Decision Intelligence Platform uniquely combines Data Prep, Business Analytics, and Data Science in a single environment with AI guidance, reducing cost and complexity while accelerating growth and innovation. The Pyramid Platform enables a strategic, organization-wide approach to Business Intelligence and Analytics, from the simple to the sophisticated. Schedule a demo. Pyramid Analytics is incorporated in Amsterdam and has regional headquarters in global innovation and business centers, including London, New York City, and Tel-Aviv. Our team lives worldwide because geography should not be a barrier to talent and opportunity. Investors include H.I.G. Growth Partners, Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP), Sequoia Capital, and Viola Growth. Learn more at Pyramid Analytics.

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Akio

Customers are everywhere and can contact the brand at any time, through any available channel. The Akio.Cx platform by Akio allows your Customer Relation teams to deliver an omnichannel customer experience: telephone, e-mails, chat, Facebook Messenger and Twitter are natively unified in one user-fr...

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