Thursday, 06 September 2018

Sitecore and Salesforce: Understanding the Powerful Role that CRM Plays in Delivering Your Digital Experiences

Brian Browning
Platforms / Technology / Strategy

Having an obsessive focus on understanding customer needs, pain points and motivations is absolutely essential to any organization that wishes to grow and become a leader. It is this understanding that enables companies to craft and deliver powerful experiences that motivate behavior. Experience shows that a high degree of personalization is needed in order to move customers to act.

The idea of anticipating and meeting your customer's every need at a purely individual level, while operating at an unprecedented scale, is the center of every digital transformation dream. It's the pinnacle of what every organization aspires to in the world of customer engagement. And it's made possible thanks to a tool that isn't as buzzworthy as the latest digital experience platform, customer insight cloud or predictive personalization engine. No, instead, it's your organization's investment in customer relationship management (CRM) software and supporting processes that lay at the heart of delivering dynamic, personalized customer experiences.

The idea of CRM software as a concept had been around since the mid-1970s, but has really gained traction more recently with the emergence of the cloud as a platform to deliver software-as-a-service. Salesforce.com is an innovative company that recognized the value in both building CRM as a tool, but also making it available to the world at large using cloud computing technology. Over the years, they have evolved to become the industry standard in CRM, having been named the #1 provider of CRM software for the fifth consecutive year in May of 2018 by IDC(1).

Diving Deeper into CRM 

Fundamentally, CRM software allows an organization to understand its customers in a more meaningful way. It does this by pulling data from multiple sources, including retail point-of-sale, web, front line interactions, marketing campaigns, transaction records and customer service call centers. Thanks to this, CRM is able to serve as a repository for the kind of customer information that leads to creating more personalized, engaging experiences. Companies then take that data and are able to combine it with valuable, third-party demographic information like household income, geographic location and educational levels.

With this incredibly rich set of information to work with, a series of customer segments may be identified. For each segment, marketing campaigns can be built that personalize the offer, information and experience in a way that is uniquely relevant to that type of customer. The response to these campaigns are also tracked within the CRM so that the results of different campaigns can be compared and experimented with in order to optimize marketing spend over time.

With an eye toward understanding the core value of this information, it's important to note that the CRM doesn’t serve simply as a data storage location, but instead should be seen as the decisioning engine that drives ongoing experiences. Marketers working with CRM are able to develop campaigns that allow for experimentation. For example, companies can try different offers to see which convert better within a specific customer segment before presenting that same offer to the larger segment, or adjacent segments. Oftentimes, this ability to experiment is optimized when delivered digitally, through the website or social media experiences. This provides near real-time feedback that drives ongoing marketing experimentation, sub-segmentation and more. 

By connecting CRM to digital experience platforms like Sitecore's Experience Platform, companies are able to truly maximize on customer segmentation, personalization and optimizing conversion techniques. While most people think of Sitecore as being focused on web-specific channels, using Sitecore decoupled (sometimes referred to as "headless") model, we can extend these same capabilities to dedicated mobile experiences. This, in turn, means that we can also experiment with, sell to and seek to convert customers and potential customers directly on the web site and within mobile applications.

Since the CRM tool becomes the central location for customer data, along with marketing and sales campaign results, we can look to it to drive meaningful, personalized experiences across all channels, including non-digital experiences. It is very important to note that the role of Salesforce in this example is to nurture the sales process along, not to simply track each step in a single view. Customers are constantly starting, stopping and resuming purchase journeys based on their needs, availability and level of interest. Salesforce, coupled with digital platforms like Sitecore(2), allow us to actively engage with the customer and offer them reasons to keep moving through the purchase funnel.

Salesforce and Sitecore in Action

For example, imagine that we knew a customer is interested in a product because they visit our Sitecore-powered web site. Sitecore's own personalization capabilities can be connected to Salesforce so that we can immediately identify the website visitor as belonging to a “nurture” customer segment and who has also received an offline direct mail piece covering a new product launch. Simply by visiting the website, we can correlate these data points together and ask Salesforce what we should present to the user next. Salesforce can leverage business rules and campaign insights to identify that a coupon should be offered if the customer elects to purchase while they are on the site.

As a result, Sitecore generates the coupon and offers it to the website visitor. In our example, the visitor decides to take advantage of the coupon and completes the transaction using our Sitecore-powered commerce functionality. Salesforce is updated with this material and the organization is able to send a "Thank You! Now, let's get to know your new product" email to the customer offering to connect them to customer service or community support in order to maximize the value of experiencing the new product. 

If the customer elected not to make the purchase when presented with the coupon, that too is noted in Salesforce. This is especially meaningful for marketers who are seeking to experiment and find the right motivational devices to leverage in order to make conversions more successful. In each step, Salesforce is intimately involved with everything from custom pricing to campaign alignment to segment analysis, constantly recording and reporting the results. The integration of the Salesforce and Sitecore digital ecosystems can drive far more than just direct sales engagements; it can also be extended to track post-sales customer service and satisfaction functions and experiences.

Another example of the value of this integration can be found when considering front-line customer service opportunities. Rightpoint recently had the chance to work with a large healthcare client in Charlotte, who specializes in offering customized healthcare programs to companies for their employees. Healthworks wanted to provide detailed pricing information for patients who attended the organization’s health clinics. The challenge was that pricing is dependent upon specifically negotiated contracts for each company, which means that the health clinics needed to be able to individually determine pricing for a given company’s employee. The contracts that specified pricing are actually stored and managed in Salesforce. Healthworks’ Intranet, PeopleConnect, is built on Sitecore. Using a Salesforce – Sitecore integration, Rightpoint was able to deliver accurate pricing directly to the health clinic, streamlining the customer experience and ensuring accurate pricing.

These examples demonstrate the incredible opportunity that Salesforce paired with Sitecore represents. It serves as the foundation for the expansion of other personalized interactions, from community-based customer service discussion forums to augmented reality-powered mobile application experiences. Every aspect of the experience can be engineered, experimented with, optimized, tracked and reported for ongoing evolution and growth. The net result is a combined platform that allows organizations to identify and market to their most profitable customers, to offer pricing models that are more likely to convert customers, to improve customer retention and satisfaction and to serve as a foundation for future experiences that feature artificial intelligence and machine learning to identify hidden segments and sales opportunities.

In Closing 

The future is more personalized, not less. Conversions depend on knowing your customers, anticipating their needs and meeting them in the right time and context. CRM tools like Salesforce are essential to every single actionable tactic that we can employ. When coupled with powerful tools like Sitecore Experience Platform, your abilities to market, sell and care for customers is made incredibly powerful. Organizations who recognize this and make appropriate investments in these kinds of experiences will differentiate themselves from their competitors, become market leaders and most importantly, will create an army or loyal customer advocates who reward personalized service with long-term relationships.

At Rightpoint, we have a unique blend of Salesforce and Sitecore teams who are experts at crafting and delivering the kinds of experiences we have discussed in this blog. Supplemented by digital strategy, commerce, user experience and technical experts, Rightpoint is ideally positioned to help your organization realize the benefits of this kind of technology. We encourage you to contact us to begin a conversation on how we can serve you.

References 

1. Salesforce named #1 CRM Provider for Fifth Consecutive Year - https://investor.salesforce.com/about-us/investor/investor-news/investor-news-details/2018/Salesforce-Named-1-CRM-Provider-for-Fifth-Consecutive-Year/default.aspx

2. Sitecore and Salesforce Connector - https://www.sitecore.com/products/expanding-sitecore/integration/connectors/salesforce

 

 

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