It’s not uncommon that the career paths of Cygnificans cross with our brands. We recently sat down with Alexander van Perlstein, a former Cygnifican who is now a Salesforce Product Owner at KLM. Though he left our company just before the COVID-19 pandemic, he is still a regular visitor at our office. We were curious to hear what happened in his career, what major changes he has seen throughout the years in the digitalisation of customer service via Salesforce and how he looks at the future.
An early love for customer service and Salesforce
Alexander started at Cygnific back in 2014 as a Social Media (SCM) Agent, but his career has taken him to many different positions. From an SCM Traffic Controller, he went to KLM to work as a Salesforce Business Analyst and now he is a Salesforce Product Owner.
It’s hard to imagine now, but the Social Media department was very small in 2014. The main channels were Facebook and Twitter. Agents didn’t only focus on delivering customer service, but also on creating creative content. Being funny and trying to have your posts go viral. “It was a lot of fun and one of my posts actually did go viral.’’
Together with two other colleagues, Alexander joined the first team of Traffic Controllers for Social Media. They ended up shaping their function, which was nice since they all had different interests. “It was a great team, Diego (now Manager CS Europe) helped me with many opportunities.”
Sticking with the family
Already as a Traffic Controller, Alexander was interested in Salesforce and what it could do for the Agents as a Customer Relationship Management system. So, when the Business Analyst position opened at KLM, he saw the opportunity to pursue his interests. Alexander took the chance and landed the job in 2019. Alexander adds: “That opportunity arose because I worked at Cygnific.”
A steep learning curve
A little after his arrival at KLM, the COVID-19 pandemic started. Looking back, it opened the doors to very short lines within the organisation. Together with different teams, they had quick developments, such as building a priority model in Social Media. This was urgently needed as the volumes went from 5,000 to 55,000 questions a day. “We needed to find and help the passengers that needed it the most first.”
Nine months ago, Alexander became a Salesforce Product Owner. Part of his responsibilities include the direction and function of the team, long-term planning, and of course, delivering a good product. “I really like it. I have more freedom, got lots of ideas on how to improve the customer service but also the life of our Agents. Which I think is one of the most important things that we do”, Alexander reflects.
Changes in the digitalisation of customer service
When asking Alexander about the biggest change he has seen in Salesforce, he immediately mentions the launch of WhatsApp service for KLM. The Social Media team had to work very hard to deal with the immense volumes. He mentions: “To motivate them we would have pizza, and the Red Bull team coming to the office. It was crazy, but at the same time it gave a sense of community because we were working towards one goal”.
The future of customer service
When asking Alexander what the future has in store for us, he mentions the following: “We want to keep innovating, more automation and more connecting systems.”
The latest trend is of course Artificial Intelligence with Microsoft launching ChapGPT. Alexander affirms that he sees a role for this kind of technology in Salesforce as well. “We don’t want to use it to replace Agents, because we still want the human aspect. But it can help deliver a great service.”
One thing has become clear after our conversation, Alexander and his team are ambitious and look forward to the future. They want to change the way we look at customer service. From being only a contact centre, we can change it into a service that helps build your brand, build the relationship with your customers and make sure they will return. “It’s a view that can help change the industry.”
Are you looking for a business partner that can improve and elevate your customer service? We’re happy to discuss the possibilities with you! Or are you looking for a way to kickstart your career in customer service representing brands like KLM, Rituals and Pink Gellac? Have a look at our job opportunities!