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Clara Shih, CEO of Service Cloud at Salesforce, joined Yahoo Finance Live to discuss how businesses and consumers are adjusting to reopening.
SEANA SMITH: Saleforce is seeing a reopening of the economy. They're noting that in a new survey that they have out, their customer service survey. So we want to talk more about that with Clara Shih. She's the CEO of Service Cloud at Salesforce.
And Clara, it's great to have you on Yahoo Finance. So certainly, this is a positive year for the economic recovery, as we talk about a pickup in activity. What are some of the trends that you noticed in the survey?
CLARA SHIH: Seana, thank you so much for having me on the show. I mean, think about it, a year ago we were scrambling to suddenly work from home, we were trying to buy toilet paper, we were worried about contact tracing. And here we are a year later, thinking about vaccines right around the corner.
And for businesses, I mean, whether it's large businesses or small shops, it's really an opportunity to reset, reinvent, and reopen society and be open for business. So it's just really incredibly exciting. 96% of consumers, myself included, are excited to go back into stores before the end of the year. And yet, the vast majority of us, we're so used to digital convenience, it's really that hybrid of digital and also in-person experiences that will become the norm going forward.
ADAM SHAPIRO: Well, when we look at what's going to be the norm going forward, we essentially have a housing shortage, not enough houses for those who want to buy them. We've got cities where rents and sales of co-ops and apartments are, once again, you know, pretty hot, but prices are off about 20%. What does the future look like?
CLARA SHIH: Well, I'm not a housing expert. But we are seeing, you know, even with Salesforce's work from anywhere strategy, and so many of our customers that we work with, this new remote and even hybrid workforce being able to relocate and do your job from anywhere. I mean, you think about the call center pre pandemic. Most of us would think of rows and rows of contacts center agents with their headsets. Well, those days are over. People are working from their kitchens. They're working from retail stores. When there's light foot traffic, those store associates are turning into call center reps. And so it's really redefining where work can be done from. And so that's what we mean when we say service from anywhere.
SEANA SMITH: And Clara, on that note, any idea, just in terms of what the work from home landscape is going to look like, or the office work, what that's going to look like, say, 6, 12 months from now? Do you have any indication on that?
CLARA SHIH: You know, it's really across the board and it varies by sector, of course. But a couple of interesting trends. I mean, if you look at travel, transportation, hospitality, retail, and restaurants, those business owners, again, whether they're large or small, they're really gearing up for that reopening and bringing employees back, retraining people to be ready for that big surge in demand. Consumers have been hunkered down for over 12 months, and people are just craving those in-person experiences.
At the same time, there's this heavy reliance on digital engagements, right, to let customers know that your business is back open. It's not just takeout only, you're open for breakfast, to communicate. And then the other part of this that's really critical is as you think about offices and sporting stadiums and museums that have sat largely empty for the last 12 months, they have to get ready for large surges of people. And so everything from food service to janitorial service to elevator maintenance and repair. You know, those elevators haven't been used for months and months. All of that needs to be powered by field service, for example. And so these businesses across these retail sectors, and then all of this business services that support these retail sectors, it's coming back online and it's really exciting.
ADAM SHAPIRO: Do you expect there to be, you know, as, there's a shortage of people that can do the kinds of jobs you just described, pressure to push wages up? That's been a big discussion about this inflation, that wages would be more important.
CLARA SHIH: Yeah. That's not an area that I specialize in per se. But I mean, if you think about just the volume, right, think it think you're a hotel company or an airline-- we work with Marriott. We work with Southwest Airlines, Estee Lauder-- and there's so many people who put off their travel last year. I was one of them. And they've either got flight credit or vacation rental credit, and they're just eager to reconnect with their friends and family and go on these trips. You know, everyone is starting digitally, right. They're going to messaging or they're going to the website or into the app to book and re-book these appointments. And so that's really helping provide the needed-- it helps with know with the contact center agents. You don't have enough people staffed to answer all of those calls. And so it's better for the business and also better for the customer for the customers to be able to self-service a lot of these kind of routine types of things.