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Salesforce’s evolution from CRM to customer experience platform

27 Feb, 2018
5 Min Read Dan Ward

Salesforce’s evolution from CRM to customer experience platform


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If you’ve worked in sales or marketing at any time since 1999, chances are you’re familiar with Salesforce. The software has been a long and loyal ally of sales teams everywhere, who have traditionally relied on it to manage leads and close deals. For the better part of two decades, Salesforce has been a formidable name in the realm of customer relationship management (CRM).

Through steady continuous improvement, and the addition of new marketing, sales and service functionality, it has evolved into a reliable and scalable cloud-based platform that is accessible to both small businesses and major companies. But the Salesforce of today is very different to the Salesforce of years gone by. More than just a CRM platform, it is also now a powerful tool for delivering seamless, personalised customer experiences. So what’s driving this shift, and what do businesses need to know?

The CRM landscape is changing

In 2016, Salesforce acquired cloud-based e-commerce provider Demandware for US $2.8 billion. By combining its rich customer database with Demandware’s leading e-commerce platform, Salesforce established the foundation for launching highly personalised services to tap into the customer experience market.

Although CRM is still at the core of Salesforce (and likely always will be), the Demandware acquisition was just one of the ways that it is expanding its focus to offer a complete customer experience platform – also known as its Customer Success Platform.

The Customer Success Platform seamlessly incorporates sales, service and marketing with social and mobile communities and analytics solutions to enable businesses to connect with their customers in new ways. For the first time, for example, it offers customers the opportunity to set up an online store using Salesforce directly. In the new era of Salesforce, customer experience will be front and centre.

A connected customer experience

Salesforce is making customer experience a differentiator that sets it apart from other software companies and platforms. To do so, it is ensuring that customers have a consistent, integrated and seamless experience across products and applications. As Salesforce Marketing Cloud Vice President of Predictive and Web Products, Eric Tobias, wrote for Journal du Net, Salesforce is working to help brands personalise everything from advertisements, emails and mobile offers for individual consumers.

“Innovative brands are leading the way in defining the next generation of customer experience with e-commerce personalization, delivering more accurate, relevant, and personalized touchpoints both in store and online. These companies are incorporating retail fundamentals like optimizing customer interactions over mobile devices, building brand loyalty by giving each customer a voice, and creating unique customer experiences as part of a customized journey to increase engagement and drive sales. Importantly, this experience is characterised by high levels of personalisation. Salesforce has set an objective of understanding its customers, and in turn, ensuring that each customer’s experience is tailored to their needs, preferences and context.”

A competitive advantage

There is no denying that the rise of digital commerce has created more options for consumers. In doing so, it has created a vastly more competitive retail market. Crafting highly personalised services, in which users have a positive and memorable customer experience, is key to attracting and retaining customers.

By shifting from a CRM platform to one that specialises in highly personalised experiences, Salesforce is well-positioned to help companies to:

  • Deliver the highly personalised experiences that customers expect
  • Anticipate customer needs
  • Track brand interactions at every point and link disparate channel actions back to a centralised customer profile
  • Automate time-consuming marketing activities (such as social media) so teams can focus on core tasks such as content creation and customer service.

Looking forward, Salesforce’s ability to create a rewarding and seamless experience for its customers will be key to its enduring success. To find out more about the digital trends shaping Salesforce’s evolution, download RXP’s free white paper: Digital platform trends 2017: Harnessing data to build customer intimacy.

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