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Salesforce.com and Customers for Life: The Company You Keep

3-24-2014 3-02-21 PM

A lesson business owners and executives learn fairly early in their careers is that success is not found in what you make but in what you keep. This is true when it comes to revenue, and especially true when it comes to customers. Loyal customers reflect a brand’s integrity, reliability, and quality. In return, people behind the brand not only realize financial benefits but gain longtime customers who become partners and even friends.

This is the philosophy behind Customers for Life, a long-term customer support and life-cycle initiative of Salesforce.com., the pioneer and leading provider of enterprise cloud computing applications and platforms.

Customers for Life is a dedicated team delivering programs, technology, and strategy, focused entirely on retaining and increasing renewals with customers. The initiative enables customers to effectively adopt and leverage the Salesforce.com service—everything to sell, service, market, and innovate using its cloud platform. These customers, by having an active role in the process, in turn become advocates of the company.

Salesforce.com does this in three ways:

1.   Listening: The company established IdeaExchange, a crowdsourcing forum where customers can suggest new enhancements, vote and comment on their favorite products, and interact with product managers and other customers.

2.   Creating Community: To share the wealth of expertise and knowledge within its diverse customer base, Salesforce.com created the Salesforce Customer Community, an online gathering spot where clients can post questions, find training videos and learn best practices.

3.   Keeping It Human: Special Customer Success Managers work closely with Salesforce.com customers, often strategically but also on a day-to-day operational level to ensure success and, in turn, a high adoption of its services.

With Customers for Life, Salesforce.com creates not only long-term client relationships, but advocates for life. This happens because Salesforce.com includes not only its own departments in the insight-sharing and decision-making process but also its clients. This kind of empowerment represents enterprise loyalty to the highest degree.To gauge results, Salesforce.com conducts a biannual worldwide survey, which in 2012 found that 95 percent of the respondents said they “definitely or probably” would continue using Salesforce.com, and 88 percent indicated they would definitely or probably recommend it to others. These outstanding results validate the program and provide input for future strategic direction.

Through the dynamic and relevant touch point mechanisms of the Idea Exchange and Customer Community, as well as the personalized service approach of Customer Success Managers, Salesforce.com is able to work closely with customers to gauge their progress against peer groups, find ways to increase adoption, and leverage its offerings to the fullest.

With this consistent exchange of information and ideas, Salesforce.com can identify its customers’ changing needs and goals, then make the necessary adjustments. Circling back to its foundational tools of listening, sharing, and coaching, it can regularly assess and ensure customer success, which is the achievement of their mutual goals.

This is a concept, and company, worth keeping.

Note: This blog post is an edited excerpt from The Loyalty Leap for BtoB: Turning Customer Information Into Customer Intimacy.  The full Salesforce case study is included in the e-book.

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