The Common Sense Approach to Service
Welcome to the show Ben Vollmer!
Ben Vollmer has over 25 years of experience in consulting, sales, and product management at General Electric, ePartners (acquired by DXC) and most recently, Microsoft. At Microsoft, he was responsible for the development and execution of a commercialization strategy for Dynamics 365 Field Service, advancing global go-to-market efforts, as well as focus on strategic customer engagement. At ePartners, Ben worked to establish new offerings and geographic coverage models globally. ePartners was the first Business Application focused partner with a national footprint focused on Sage and Microsoft with over 1,200 team members and 8,000 customers. Ben joined IFS with the primary objective to enable customers to maximize the three areas that define moments of service: customers, people, and assets. Regardless of complexity, he takes a customer-centric approach in understanding an organization’s business goals and their processes and helps aligns them with IFS’s capabilities to create exceptional customer experiences. As SVP of Product Management, he owns the IFS’s strategic roadmap for the product, industries and IFS Labs.
Where it all Started
When Ben was 6 years old, his dad gifted him a Franklin Ace 1200 PC and a book on the basics of computers and said “Go learn this, it’ll get you somewhere in life”, and he was right. From there, Ben learned how to program basic though there was not much use for it at that time. Fast forward to 1994, Windows 95 was just launching and Ben was working for a company that needed to track people registering for their classes. So, he deployed GoldMine to enable them to do this. When he called the reseller (or the VAR if you can think that far back) to ask for some help with setup, the reseller was shocked to see how far Ben had gotten in the deployment process and offered him a job on the spot. From there, he started doing CRM applications full time. As his career progressed, he moved into the ERP where his main focus was field service and later became employee #6 at Microsoft for CRM.
The Future of Customer Expectations
We say there are only two audiences online today; humans and machines. This is something a lot of companies in this field have struggled with because they are either brilliant technologists who don’t fully understand the buyer journey (humans/customer experience) or they’re building a fantastic front end-user experience but don’t have the software to back it up. Over the last few years, customer experience expectations have skyrocketed, but our user interfaces are still hard-coded. Take a tool like Outlook for example; Outlook does not have the context of what you are doing. Aside from visual appearance, the tool functions as it did years and years ago. Ben believes the future of customer experience lies in emersion of the machine blending with the conversion of the human.
“Natural language user interface, the ability to have the UI learn… those are areas I think our hard computer science problems haven’t solved yet, and that’s where we’re heading to next!”
Bringing Context to Customer Experiences
Traditionally, there is no context at work, just forms. Think about when you jump into your car and plug in your phone, Apple CarPlay or Android Auto automatically pops up. Maybe it’ll show you a list of frequent destinations you can navigate too, or allow you to resume a song you were listening too. These are applications that understand the user and help to provide a clear path for success. Ben touches on why he thinks the context is further along than we think and why trust is such an integral piece in the future of customer experience.
Fast Five Favourites
At Common Sense Professional, we like to ask our guests a rapid-fire round of five questions to get to know their favourite things in the tech space right now.
- Favourite tech or business tool you are using today? evercontact
- Who is a company/person that does marketing fantastically? HubSpot
- Favourite recent read? The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni and anything Bob Herbold
- Favourite podcast? Plant Money
- Most important business result you measure your success by? The impact I have on other people and the success of others around me.