Daniel Bailey, SVP & Regional Sales Leader EMEA, Genesys: “The world around brands is evolving faster than it ever has”

We hope that Genesys’ Daniel Bailey isn’t an optimist. His views on the future of customer service sound blissful: your voice is your password, so no need to remember passwords and awkward facts. And automated answering systems that either answer your questions quickly or fast-track you to a human agent. Bliss!

What’s reassuring is that Daniel has earned his customer experience spears over the years. He was one of Salesforce’s first employees, helped Zendesk “secure major wins” in its early years, and, prior to joining Genesys, served as vice president of EMEA at Amplitude for three years.

Just as Zendesk and Salesforce disrupted their respective landscapes, Daniel believes more disruption may well be on the way. As companies experiment with AI, he says, “we’ll begin to see real examples of what using AI responsibly looks like…. This will act as a catalyst for further innovation in the space, and no doubt, future disruptions.”

Our thanks to Daniel for generously sharing his time and his experience in this wide-ranging interview.

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Could you please introduce yourself to our audience? What motivated you to pursue a career in customer experience, and how did you embark on your journey in this field?

I kicked off my career in the tech space at the original enterprise technology vendor, SAP. There, I dipped my toe into the world of customer experience and saw firsthand what it meant to provide a best-in-class experience.

After piquing my interest in the space, I joined Salesforce when it was still in its early years. This was when Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) was in its transformative stages, and the focus wasn’t just on the B2B sales side, but also on the end consumer. I was the eighth enterprise account executive in the retail division and worked with brands such as Burberry, who were innovating in the space and were exemplars of how businesses can serve customers efficiently, while also in a way that builds brand loyalty.

This really laid the foundation for my career, as I witnessed multiple versions of disruption to customer service – this is what hooked me in, leading me to work for such companies as Amplitude, Zendesk and now Genesys where I am today!

What are your thoughts on the escalating integration of AI in customer experience and its potential influence on the future of customer service at large?

I’ve seen various stages of customer experience as it has evolved. From the initial rise of omnichannel to generative AI, one thing has remained consistent throughout – a desire to make the experience as seamless and effortless as possible for both customers and employees alike.

As the conversation around AI has evolved, it’s now about making sure it’s used responsibly, while meeting customer expectations for highly personalised and empathetic experiences.

There is no one way to get this right and businesses are still in the experimentation stage to figure this out. Nevertheless, we are seeing the beginning of what getting AI ‘right’ looks like. For example, by using AI, businesses are removing unnecessary steps for customers and making the process of getting support much more seamless. For voice calls, this could mean removing verification processes by instead using the customer’s voice as their password or having automated responses to common questions. This means that once the customer reaches the stage of speaking to a human agent, it’s regarding a high-value issue that requires more effort.

This is what the future of customer service, supported by AI, looks like – making the process of reaching out to a business more effortless for the customer, while also saving employees time for more important issues.

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Do you anticipate any significant disruptions in customer experience technology for 2024? If so, what are those disruptions and why?

AI adoption will continue to grow in 2024, but it will be less about new technology disrupting the space and more about innovative use cases coming to the fore. As brands are grappling with AI and figuring out how to best use it to work to their specific business and customer needs, we’ll begin to see real examples of what using AI responsibly looks like, in a way that doesn’t compromise on customer demands for highly personalised experiences. This will act as a catalyst for further innovation in the space, and no doubt, future disruptions.

Could you share some of your most noteworthy accomplishments that you take particular pride in?

Reflecting on my career, I’ve had the opportunity to work with some incredible brands that have truly shaped my approach and defined the way I think about brand experience. Working with an incredible brand like Burberry, which had a forward-looking and highly innovative CEO and Chief Creative Officer at the forefront of creating a digital brand and laid the groundwork for what blurring digital and physical spaces looked like, was transformative in the way I’ve tried to approach all subsequent customer engagements.

At the same time, working with digital disrupters like Just Eat and TransferWise – who have been leaders in their respective industries – to transform the delivery of exceptional service has been something I’m proud to have experienced and been a part of helping to move those industries forward.

What core values have played a pivotal role in shaping your approach to customer experience?

Being people-driven is at the core of what Genesys does as a technology company, and helping our customers achieve the outcomes they’re looking for. This doesn’t just apply to how we operate as a business, but also to how we think about talent and continue to create an open door for diverse talent to come into the industry, which is something I’m extremely passionate about.

As leaders and as human beings, we have a responsibility in this industry to try and accelerate it forward. It’s come a long way, but there’s still progress to be made, which is why I’ve involved myself in employee resource groups to support women and people from diverse backgrounds in getting into the industry.  

One of the key things that attracted me to Genesys was its culture, which is a reflection of these values – that is empathy, integrity and determination. It’s all about walking in someone else’s shoes and understanding one another, which also ties very closely to what we do in customer experience.

This also means doing things in the right way, which is critical to what we do as a company. A lot of businesses are very focused on the metrics that drive the bottom line, but they don’t consider how they do that and make sure they do it in a way that keeps people at the very centre.

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What major hurdles have you encountered as a customer experience leader, and how did you surmount them?

The consistent main challenge across each organisation I’ve worked at has been that when you experience exponential growth, you’re constantly being challenged and having to adapt. When you’re supporting a business to scale, things invariably go wrong along the way and you’re continually having to consider whether you have the right tools and processes in place. As a leader, this is what I spend most of my time on – essentially making sure that our own customer experience marries up with what we want that experience to look like.

Overcoming these hurdles ties back to our core values: empathy, integrity and determination. Working as a team where we’re aligned in these values and can use our different backgrounds and experiences to solve the challenges our customers are facing is crucial.

Working with like-minded partners is really the starting point as they have the expertise to assess the issues a business is facing and recommend what solutions will ensure they’re ahead of the curve.

Where I’ve seen a lot of brands historically fail is attempting to solve problems entirely in-house and trying to build their own solutions. This means they can get blindsided by the innovation happening externally that will really support them in overcoming these challenges.

It’s all about being open-minded and willing to embrace the insights that partners provide, while also just getting started on their journey in some capacity. The world around brands is evolving faster than it ever has, which means it needs to be less about designing perfect tech and more about experimenting and seeing what works for the business.

What piece of advice would you offer to fellow customer experience professionals that has been particularly beneficial to you personally?

Never stop evolving and learning. Accept the reality that things won’t always go right, embrace the journey and grow from it. Take inspiration from other leaders and brands to bring it back to what that means for your own business and customers. That’s how you build a forward-thinking business that aligns with what customers want today.

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Tim Danton

Tim has worked in IT publishing since the days when all PCs were beige, and is editor-in-chief of the UK's PC Pro magazine. He has been writing about hardware for TechFinitive since 2023.