CX Innovators: Heidi Bullock, Tealium

Creating More Personalized Customer Touchpoints Using Strategic Technology and Effective Business Processes

CX Innovators Tealium

Tealium is a global provider of customer data platforms (CDPs), supporting over 850 enterprise customers in more than 30 countries around the world. Originally established in 2008 and headquartered in San Diego, the company has grown to more than 800 employees worldwide and has established a partner ecosystem comprising more than 20,000 individuals and more than 1,300 turnkey integration capabilities. Tealium is privately held and is backed by several leading venture capital (VC) firms.

Heidi Bullock serves as Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) for Tealium, having been with the company for more than 3 years. Bullock brings 20+ years of enterprise technology experience to the role, including previously serving as the CMO of Engagio and holding various leadership positions at Marketo with an extensive ongoing focus on marketing automation applications.

Most Significant CX Challenges

Heidi Bullock, Chief Marketing Officer, Tealium

Bullock states that one of the biggest challenges facing Tealium customers is the imperative to personalize their experiences, in line with a rising tide of consumer demand for brand interactions that are optimized. One major hurdle faced by enterprises is that their customer data is siloed, which is especially prevalent in more regulated industries such as telecommunications, financial services, healthcare, and energy & utilities.

She observes that the retail industry is somewhat ahead of the pack in terms of unified data architectures, and many enterprises in other industries are looking to retail as an example of best practices in CX. A second challenge is that many organizations lack the ability to have customers’ privacy preferences propagated throughout the customer journey, which again is particularly an inhibitor in regulated industries.

One essential ingredient of successful CX programs, adds Bullock, is to be sure there is a clear charter of objectives and all teams within the organization are aligned. This point echoes what Dash Research has heard in most of our CX Innovator Series interviews, including the necessity of sponsorship and buy-in for CX initiatives at the highest levels of executive management.

CX Success Stories

Bullock says that, while conventional wisdom in the CX market is that North America is leading in terms of innovation and adoption, she finds that many of the most interesting innovations are coming from Tealium’s customers in Europe and Australia. The company’s experience operating in a diverse set of countries has offered the team a unique view of how regional differences can affect the shape of CX implementations. With that said, Bullock showcases three key case studies that provide interesting insights on the creative use of technology to enhance the customer journey.

In Healthcare, Providence St. Joseph was able to secure early wins with its CX efforts by starting in the call center and bringing together all their customer data in a way that could be easily accessed by service agents, as referenced in this case study.

In Education, Arizona State University (ASU) is “very digital-first and very innovative,” says Bullock, which is notable in the higher education market since that sector is not known for being among the earliest adopters of technology. ASU’s key objective was to reduce student churn. Working closely with Tealium to define audiences and rules-based triggers for service intervention following certain student-initiated events, ASU developed a system for counselors to better connect with students.

In Travel, United Airlines has worked closely and effectively with Tealium to develop a customer segmentation taxonomy. The company’s main charter was to use their customer segmentation to enhance personalization.

Internal Barriers

Bullock’s experience is that there are three necessary elements of a successful CX initiative:

  1. Buy-in. Sometimes, says Bullock, an individual or a small group can have a vision for what they want to accomplish, but if the vision is not shared by the larger organization, the program is unlikely to reach its full potential, and may sometimes fail to get off the ground at all. A clear mandate from executive management is an important starting point, followed by the establishment of a clear charter, followed by ensuring buy-in among all the key stakeholder groups. Bullock says that Providence St. Joseph did an excellent job aligning its key constituents on a common vision, which was a real key to the organization’s success in improving CX.
  2. Skill Set Gaps. Some customer organizations are significantly behind the curve when it comes to key systems of record for customer data. Some companies may not even have a customer relationship management (CRM) system, for example, or may have little experience with marketing automation. Gaps such as these make it significantly more difficult to build a common customer experience across touchpoints.
  3. Fragmented Data. Many organizations have different repositories of customer data spread across different systems. Bringing the data together into a unified view is a necessary step for the deployment of successful CX programs.

Bullock adds that it is important for enterprises to start with the small wins, when it comes to CX improvement. Optimizing advertising spend is a great example of low-hanging fruit that many organizations could grasp early in their CX enhancement efforts.

Key Technologies

Tealium finds that the technologies they rely upon the most in customer implementations are not overcomplicated, but instead represent some of the most basic building blocks, including CRM systems, chat systems, survey tools, marketing automation, mobile tools, and social media tools for listening and automation. Some of the company’s customers are more sophisticated with contact center technologies, using platforms such as Zendesk. Additionally, Bullock highlights Neutrogena as one organization who is very effectively using progressive profiling through their website. And some brands are beginning to experiment with augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) as a new type of customer touchpoint. Whatever the technology mix, says Bullock, the key is to reduce friction throughout the customer journey and make it as easy as possible for customers to interact with the brand.

Looking forward in terms of technology focus, Bullock says, “virtual reality will be really interesting,” especially for customers not in major metro areas, and for particular applications like remote healthcare consultations. Additionally, she says, “I still think chat has a long way to go on websites.” She also anticipates greater adoption of customer listening tools, especially as organizations become more effective at applying artificial intelligence (AI) to learning what their customers are saying across multiple channels. She expects to see greater unification of online and offline interactions as more progress is made on the goal of creating omnichannel experiences. And finally, Bullock shares, “the whole privacy piece has not been figured out in the best way and brands will need to keep privacy and security top of mind as they implement successive waves of CX enhancements.”

Predictions for CX Market Development

When asked for her predictions about which themes will be key priorities for CX practitioners a few years from now, Bullock says that she expects we will still be talking a lot about personalization, since the full realization of that goal will take multiple iterations to reach, though she expects to see a lot more world-class examples of personalization and optimization within the next few years. “People know what needs to happen, but the ability to execute has not been easy,” she says, and early adopters and savvy teams are doing some amazing things already and showing real results.” Similarly, Bullock anticipates more effective use of machine learning (ML), AR, and VR over the next few years. As technology continues to improve, she says, “the companies that make these changes are going to win.” She predicts that the brands who are able to delight their customers will be the real industry leaders of the future.

About the CX Innovator Series

The CX Innovator Series is an actionable and educational industry initiative that showcases the best practices that leading end-user executives are using within their organizations to shape their community’s experience. The series is a collaborative effort between Dash Network, Sleeping Giant Labs, and Team Wakabayashi. Using expertly curated executive interviews combined with quantitative research from consumer surveys, the CX Innovator Series provides tangible insights and a deeper understanding of how successful companies are utilizing CX programs resulting in positive business outcomes.

The CX Innovator Series is made possible by support from our lead sponsors: Concentrix, eGain, Tealium, and QuestionPro. If you would be interested in participating in the CX Innovator initiative, either as part of an end-user interview or as a supporting sponsor, please contact us.

Author Information

Clint Wheelock

Clint brings over 20 years of market research and consulting experience, focused on emerging technology markets. He was co-founder and CEO of Dash Network, an integrated research and digital media firm focused on the CX market, which was acquired by The Futurum Group in 2022. He previously founded Tractica with a focus on human interaction with technology, including coverage of AI, user interface technologies, advanced computing, and other emerging sectors. Acquired by Informa Group, Clint served as Chief Research Officer for Informa’s research division, Omdia, with management and content strategy responsibility, formed by the combination of Tractica, Ovum, IHS Markit Technology, and Heavy Reading.
Clint was previously the founder and President of Pike Research, a leading market intelligence firm focused on the global clean technology industry, which was acquired by Navigant Consulting where he was Managing Director of the Navigant Research business.

Prior to Pike Research, Clint was Chief Research Officer at ABI Research, a New York-based industry analyst firm concentrating on the impact of emerging technologies on global consumer and business markets.

Clint holds a Master of Business Administration in Telecommunications Management from the University of Dallas and a Bachelor of Arts in History from Washington & Lee University.


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