Dreamforce 2014 #D14: Benioff Announces Customer Success Platform

One of the many scoops at Dreamforce this year is the announcement of the Customer Success Platform. The idea behind what Salesforce is offering is that companies and brands need a way to connect with their customers in new ways. There are nearly trillions of devices, apps, cars, cameras, watches, etc… that could be connected. The thought being that– if everything was connected, brands could deliver better experiences that were more relevant. The result of that is to drive customer loyalty, advocacy and referrals and long-term customer lifetime value.

Salesforce has 6 core technologies: mobile, connected products, 1 to 1 capabilities for the marketing customer journey, social, data and apps. And they want brands to be able to manage it all on one platform- theirs. They showed several difference examples: GE for analytics, Coke for building mobile applications and Honeywell for sales, marketing, service, community and engagement.

Salesforce is also taking about the data divide and wants to put an end to it by making it easier to for the business people and the people who manage data to see it visualized. While that is empowering to the business users to be able to create applications, it could be an issue for IT to maintain it… and security, and… So we’ll see if things get better or worse. It will help IT get more relevant and perhaps end the cycle of departments like Customer Service suffering from the Rodney Dangerfield Affect… they just don’t get enough respect so their requests end up at the end of the IT list… Something’s gotta give… to make business run better and make customers return.

Wondering what to do once you have sold a SaaS product? Customer Success Platforms are there to help you make sure you maintain the relationship throughout the customer lifecycle so that renewals are easier. And what will be interesting is to see how the various players in the Customer Success Management field fair. If you are looking at this area there’s some of the companies you’ll want to consider: GainSight, ServiceSource and Totango… to mention a few.

What is confusing to many is what does the term “Customer Success Platform” mean? To some it means a platform to build your customer journey on and have all apps, data, devices, etc connect. To others it means managed services and/or a platform to manage a SaaS software sale after the sale – i.e., during its whole customer lifetime- way before renewal time…

It’s important for vendors to do the work to make sure the messaging is not confusing, to understand who they are selling to and very deliberately show their benefits. This means doing the persona selling buying exercise – i.e., for each persona you are selling to, know what keeps them up at night and how does your solution or platform solve that. The benefits are very different for various roles, CIOs, CEOs, CMOs, SVP of Customer Service, etc…

I’ve been writing about Customer Experience for nearly 20 years and while the technology has gotten much better, exactly what technology one needs and for what department has gotten more confusing each year. The idea of serving your customer has not changed. It’s needed and wanted more than ever. It’s important to distinguish what each vendor brings to the table for what roles and why they should be considered. It’s not an easy thing to sort out all the “very” similar marketing messaging.

I will be creating some Vendor Profiles to help our end users figure what the best choice is for their company.

@DrNatalie

VP and Principal Analyst Covering Marketing, Sales and Service to Deliver Better Customer Experiences.

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