If you haven’t had a chance to check out any of these incredible stories yet, don’t worry, it’s never too late to start. And if you have, you are in for a real treat.
I sat down with Coveo Digital Experience Heroes Pioneer and Interviewer, Ari Hoffman (Director of Customer Advocacy), to discuss the purpose of this project and how it has grown over time. In doing so, I hoped to uncover the story behind the storytelling and share it alongside those it helped bring to life. Thankfully, the interviewer took on the role of interviewee effortlessly, allowing that story to indeed come to be:
What is Coveo Digital Experience Heroes? What purpose does it serve?
The digital experience heroes page is like a resource center. What it’s attempting to do is showcase (1) that it is indeed possible to embrace a human-first and digital-first approach at the same time and (2) the benefits that come along with doing so. In our current circumstances, the specific purpose is to demonstrate how business leaders are able to blend empathy and technology together to help their organization and its customers get through the challenges associated with COVID-19.
The approach we’ve taken is to develop a video series that ultimately answers this question: How are organizations surviving today?
There are countless organizations that have needed to let a significant number of employees go during this time, but there are also those that haven’t. There are those that have been able to manage the influx of digital demand on their various platforms and continue to succeed – even now. We want to focus on those successful organizations – more specifically, the individual heroes responsible for such great performance. We want to have them share their success with others that may be struggling so that they can better formulate new strategies to adapt quickly and succeed now and in the future.
What sets a digital experience hero apart from others?
The reality is that this paradigm is going to last a long time, and it has become clear that a greater digital presence is necessary to succeed in this new normal. And what differentiates a digital experience hero from those around them is that they have already come to this understanding and acted upon it. They’ve already adopted a digital-first mindset and put the initiatives in place to make it happen, and that is why the organizations they are a part of are able to adapt right now.
Truthfully, I was expecting to find digital transformation stories – accounts of current challenges being overcome due to what they are doing now – but that’s not the case. Instead, I’m being given success stories – accounts of current success being had due to everything they were doing years ago:
These stories truly reflect the gravity of their past actions. Effectively, in going digital-first and initiating digital transformation when they did, those digital experience heroes prepared their organization to take on a global pandemic – and can be confident in its ability to handle anything less. Leaders of organizations that are struggling now would be wise to follow their example. Following in suit may not lead to resounding success now, but it will enable them to weather the storm and set them up for greater success in the future.
What inspired you to take on this project? To tell these stories?
This is actually a really fun part of the story.
At the time, there were two different issues going on at the same time. The first was that Coveo itself was going through this crisis just like any other company. This gave rise to questions that we were determined to answer: “How can we talk to people right now?”, “How can we provide value?”, and “How can we be of service to others?”. And that “in the service of others” is really the fundamental building block of the entire Digital Experience Heroes initiative. We wanted to find a way to help build value for others, not ask for more from others.
And then there’s the organic component that happened here. My daughter was turning five on March 16th. We had big plans for her party, and she had been talking about it non-stop for months. And we ended up having to cancel it, the entire birthday, which was a really difficult thing to do. However, I had these texts from a conversation between my wife and I where she was telling me about my daughter’s mature response (for a five year old) to the cancellation. It was incredibly emotional, and I actually posted the conversation on LinkedIn because I was just so touched by my daughter’s reaction.
There was a decent amount of engagement, and one of the comments on it was from a customer, 8×8, reaching out to say that they had just released their entire video platform (the enterprise-grade software) to the public for free, and that they would love to set something up with me for my daughter. After working with them, I was able to hold a 40-person birthday for my daughter, complete with banter, laughter, and her closest friends and family present to sing happy birthday.
After sharing that, people started reaching out to us (Coveo) to share how they are helping the community. That’s when two missions became one. We determined that we could achieve our goal of being of service to others by sharing these stories from our customers. We hoped that in doing so we’d not only bring attention to the initiatives they had put in place, and all the good that was coming from them, but also reveal how their digital strategy enabled them to become the heroes that they are today. That hope has definitely been realized, and it all started with a feature on 8×8:
Now the hope is that others can learn from these stories, put strong digital strategies in place, and ultimately become digital experience heroes too.
I’m not asking you to play favorites, but tell me about some of the more unique initiatives you’ve seen. Why did they stand out?
There are three examples that have really resonated with me. Before getting into that, I’d just like to emphasize that each and every story in this series is incredible. No story would be a part of this project if it was anything less than extraordinary. That note aside:
1.) Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA): Jiri Marousek
2.) Zendesk: Sam Kind
3.) American Bankers Association (ABA): Stephanie Dreyer
I know I said three, but I just thought of a fourth. After this one, please stop me, otherwise I might talk all day.
4.) Xero: Rachael Powell
[Now, to bring the interviewer-interviewee transformation full-circle, I thought it only fitting to finish by throwing the Digital Heroes spotlight on Ari himself.]
You’ve given back so much to the community through the Digital Heroes initiative. But it’s been brought to my attention that you’ve also been giving back outside of this project – to the customer success community. Tell me about that.
Ari Hoffman, ladies and gentlemen, a hero in more ways than one.
Tell us your story
At Coveo, we are here to help. Our goal is two-fold: (1) to be of service to those businesses that are struggling to adapt and (2) to help those businesses that are succeeding continue to do so. In order to achieve that goal, we will continue to share the stories of our Digital Experience Heroes with the world.
That being said, if you have a story of your own that you’d like to share, we’d be delighted to hear from you. Tell us all about it here, and we’ll be in touch.