What Makes Salesforce A Complete Customer Engagement Platform

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. 

  • Security and Compliance: Security is at the core of any digital platform. Managing user identity, multi-factor authentication, data encryption, audit trails, permissions and access control, data sharing controls, activity/event monitoring and governance form part of this capability pillar.
  • Mobility: In today’s mobile-first world, the platform should enable mobile readiness through iOS/Android apps, configurable mobile extensibility, offline access, mobile-optimized workflows such as scanning using the camera, location-based services, specific quick actions and more. Mobile is no longer an afterthought but it is a core platform capability. 
  • Collaboration: Work gets done through distributed but well-connected teams. Ensuring seamless cooperation between internal and external players is a key platform capability. Some important features for collaboration are Email/Calendar integration, multi-channel alerts, Reminders/Tasks and activity tracking, update feeds, Queue based workflows, groups, sharing documents and working together.
  • Extensible data model and UX: The solution is not built just once. It is enhanced through iterations as internal and external needs evolve. The ability to extend and customize not only the user interface but also the underlying platform data model is essential. 
  • Intelligence: You need to have the ability to monitor and continuously improve the key metrics that help you optimize your operations without compromising on service quality. Reports, Dashboards and basic analytics provide the necessary information for this. But beyond basic analytics, the platform also needs to be ready for advanced analytics using machine learning. As more and more structured and unstructured data is collected, the need for advanced analytics is even more compelling. A platform natively providing scoring, machine learning, deep learning, vision/voice processing, recommendation engine, and sentiment analysis will have an edge
  • Integration: Any modern digital solution will need to leverage various partner, government or other agency systems. Seamless functioning of the system will require flexible integration options provided by the platform.
  • Automation: Rules and Constraints driven automation flows, time-based actions, low code workflow configuration, and approvals/escalations automate tasks and workflows in the system and make it more efficient. The ability to configure these through a metadata-driven approach rather than customized code makes it easy to maintain and replicate across the customer base.

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.

Team Varasi

Anil Nair
Anil Nair
Anil is a Managing Principal at Varasi. He shares thoughts and insights that help blend technical knowledge with business acumen to build great customer solutions. Anil is passionate about simple ways to achieve customer delight that are easy to understand but difficult to implement.