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Customers: Hard to get, easy to lose

Protocol Enterprise

Hello, and welcome to Protocol Enterprise! Today: why customer experience technology has become such an important part of the enterprise software landscape, why companies can’t expect multifactor authentication to lock down their systems and the most recent fundraising activity in enterprise tech.

The customer is always right

The rise of software as a service dramatically changed the experience of being a customer as well as the expectations those customers have of their suppliers, and coming out of a two-year pandemic, there’s no going back.

“We’re in an experience economy, consumers are very fickle,” said Tony Bates, chair and CEO of contact center software provider Genesys. The pandemic only accelerated these forces, setting in motion lasting effects that will permanently alter the future of customer experience technology. But how do companies truly deliver good customer experiences?

The answer involves more than just migrating to the cloud and updating tech stacks, according to experts, product executives and customers themselves. It requires a new mindset and an entire organizational shift in thinking.

  • About 10 to 15 years ago, the primary way many customers interacted with sellers was through support agents located in massive overseas contact centers.
  • The focus then was on increasing efficiency, reducing call times and funneling customers in and out the door.
  • But because “the switching costs for both customers and employees is approaching zero,” SaaS vendors have to provide good experiences in order to drive repeat business, said Brad Anderson, president of products and services at Qualtrics.
  • “What would have probably taken another 20 years certainly got accelerated by the pandemic,” said Simonetta Turek, general manager at Twilio Flex.

With such great expectations, businesses have their work cut out for them if they want to unlock top-tier customer experiences. Not only do companies need to upgrade their tech stacks to handle the need for faster, more efficient customer interactions, but they may also need to restructure their entire customer-facing operations.

  • “One of the most significant trends that is happening right now is there’s a consolidation happening where CX leaders are saying, ‘I need all of my customer experience data to be in one place,’” said Qualtrics’ Anderson.
  • As customer interactions become increasingly digital, customers should be able to easily navigate a company’s website, find support articles or contact the sales team.
  • “It’s been proven time and time again that level of effort is actually more predictive of loyalty than anything else,” said John Ball, senior vice president of customer workflows at ServiceNow.
  • But it’s incredibly important that a focus on customers comes from the very top of an organization, said Lara Caimi, chief customer and partner officer at ServiceNow.

Companies will truly have to put customers front and center to succeed over the next few years. That means forward-looking companies will need to migrate to the cloud, adopt emerging technologies and even restructure business departments.

  • “The situation we’re here talking about is not a nice-to-have, it's a ‘roof is on fire’ situation,” Sameer Patel, chief marketing and solutions officer at SAP CX.
  • Companies unable to deliver will simply get left behind by newer entrants into the market built around nimble technology and an innate understanding of those customer needs.

Read the full report here, and check out the rest of our special report on customer experience in the enterprise.

— Aisha Counts (email | twitter)


Capital One’s adoption of modern cloud and data capabilities led us to create tools to operate at scale in the cloud. Capital One Software is bringing these solutions to market to help you accelerate your cloud and data journey. Get started with Slingshot, a data management solution for Snowflake customers.

Learn more

MFA is not a magic bullet

It’s still unclear whether the breach of Uber’s internal IT systems, revealed on Thursday, was anything more than embarrassing for the company. But for businesses everywhere, the attack should serve as yet another reminder that certain security controls that we once thought were a panacea are no such thing.

Specifically, multifactor authentication. This security control, which requires a second form of verification for a user to log into a corporate network, is considered essential for keeping the hackers out. But lately, hackers have been finding clever ways to beat it.

In the Uber breach, the method employed by the hacker appears to be what’s known as an “MFA fatigue” attack: The attacker (posing as someone from IT) sends repeated login notifications to an employee until the employee approves it. Basically, the attacker wears the employee down. But once approved, the attacker is in.

“We thought MFA was always the silver bullet,” said Bryan Murphy, senior director for consulting services and incident response at identity security vendor CyberArk. “Now we’re starting to see that attackers are finding ways around it.”

On Monday, Uber specified that it was a contractor who had their account compromised, “likely” through the purchase of the contractor’s corporate Uber password on the dark web. The company confirmed that the contractor enabled the attacker to break through the MFA requirement by approving a multifactor login request.

Uber said it doesn’t appear the attackers, which it claimed were operating as part of the Lapsus$ group, were able to access any personal customer data or make any changes to its source code.

Notably, there is one form of MFA that is still considered “unphishable.” Hardware security keys that comply with the latest authentication standard, known as FIDO2, serve as a second factor that can’t be thwarted because they require the user to physically touch the key. Cloudflare, which provides its employees with YubiKey hardware keys, said the attackers in a recent phishing campaign were unable to get around its MFA through the use of the keys, preventing the company from getting breached.

— Kyle Alspach (email | twitter)

Financial corner

Atlas raised $200 million to build HR management software.

Swiftly raised $100 million to build software for retailers.

Xeneta raised $80 million to provide real-time analytics on sea and air freight rates.

Zesty raised $75 million to help enterprises save money by automatically adjusting cloud usage.

— Aisha Counts (email | twitter)

Around the enterprise

Zendesk shareholders approved a $10.2 billion private equitybuyout deal after several years of uncertainty.

DirecTV’s NFL streaming service went down for the second straight week, which is not a great look when tech powerhouses like Google and Apple are considering taking over the service.


Capital One’s adoption of modern cloud and data capabilities led us to create tools to operate at scale in the cloud. Capital One Software is bringing these solutions to market to help you accelerate your cloud and data journey. Get started with Slingshot, a data management solution for Snowflake customers.

Learn more

Thanks for reading — see you tomorrow!

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