Customer Engagement Platforms that help you engage with and serve your customers have become increasingly important as every business embraces digital transformation. Customers, both B2C and B2B, have very high expectations from businesses today. A simple way to look at a customer engagement platform is as a platform that allows you to reduce friction in the information flow required to delight your customers and enhance customer loyalty. How do you enable your customers (self-service) and your customer engagement staff (marketing, sales, account management, customer service) with the tools to achieve this outcome?
Customer engagement platforms are often bought and implemented as point solutions for departmental problems. Sadly, if you don’t have a long-term roadmap, you don’t get the best out of your investments. I am using the “long-term roadmap” as a proxy for the harmony needed between the business roadmap, technology roadmap and change management. Companies typically follow a crawl-walk-run approach to customer engagement and they have valid reasons for doing that. At the lower end of the market, where the customers are typically digitizing one department at a time, this often means that they think of Marketing, Sales, Service and integration to their backend operational systems as separate projects or initiatives. At the top end of the spectrum, the story is not very different because business processes and systems need to evolve with your business growth and transformations.
The crawl-walk-run approach is in itself not bad, in fact, we actively recommend this approach when we advise our customers. But we see one important consideration missing when we talk to many customers. We believe that customers can get much more out of their Salesforce investments if they think through a long-term roadmap for customer engagement and roll it out iteratively. Unfortunately, this long-term roadmap is not the charter of the departmental heads making the purchasing decision and the short-term budget constraints limit the boldness of their vision. A strong recommendation we have on this topic is to involve the executive or team in the company who is responsible for the long-term arc of your customer engagement strategy in the decision-making process. This helps you go beyond the departmental feature level decision-making to see the platform capabilities and invest in the future of your customer engagement strategy.
We routinely conduct workshops for our customers to chart out this customer engagement roadmap and overlay the digital platform needs and rollout strategy needed to succeed in their plans. In this blog, we touch upon the key elements of the digital platform capabilities that modern companies need and the suitability of Salesforce as a platform to accomplish their goals. Here we highlight the platform capabilities in Salesforce that make it a strong contender for solutions beyond the standard Marketing, Sales and Service offered by Salesforce.
These capabilities provide basic building blocks for any modern digital solution. You have two choices here. You can either piece together all the components of the platform using open-source tools and frameworks or go with a platform like Salesforce which is constantly evolving and upgrading its platform three times a year. There are significant benefits in looking at Salesforce as your platform for digital solutions both from a time-to-market perspective and from a total cost of ownership perspective.
To summarize, align your long-term customer engagement strategy and your immediate departmental needs while investing in a customer engagement platform. You don’t have to compromise on your long-term needs while operating within your short-term priorities and constraints. You will be surprised at the power of the platform and the pace of innovation when you look at Salesforce from that point of view.