CXO

The connected customer revolution: A new kind of customer service

At the 2015 Dreamforce conference, Salesforce co-founders Marc Benioff and Parker Harris addressed the technology revolutions that are changing how companies should address their customers.

Salesforce's Marc Benioff addressing the crowd at Dreamforce 2015.
Image: Conner Forrest/TechRepublic

Without a doubt, understanding customers is the foundational strategy of every successful business. But, as consumer technology changes the way people interact with brands, it can be difficult to maintain that relationship.

On Wednesday, September 16 at the 2015 Dreamforce conference, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff took the stage to explain the advent of the "connected customer" and the next iteration of customer service at Salesforce.

Salesforce is a company known for its philanthropic efforts and, early in his keynote address, Benioff introduced UCSF professor Dr. Laura Esserman and explained how Salesforce is working with the Athena Breast Health Network.

The goal of the network is to provide precision medicine, with the ability to target treatment for each individual. Benioff drew similarities between the concept of precision medicine and targeting in sales and marketing, which is what Salesforce is known for.

Customers are changing the ways they approach and interact with brands, which is leading to the need of new tools for businesses to meet the needs of those customers. Benioff said the rise of the "connected customer" was driven by five distinct revolutions in technology:

  1. Cloud revolution
  2. Mobile revolution
  3. Social revolution
  4. Data science revolution
  5. The Internet of Things

During the presentation Benioff stated that 77% of customers are not properly engaged with companies and less than 1% of customer data has been analyzed. These statistics are some of the reasons why the company is so focused on building a Customer Success Platform, he said.

For Salesforce to be successful with this connected customer, there are three points that it needs to hit. It must be able to maintain and foster 1-to-1 customer relationships, it must be able to run on any platform, and it must maintain one of the largest enterprise app ecosystems.

Salesforce co-founder Parker Harris joined Benioff on stage to demonstrate some of the new features of the upcoming Lightning Experience release and how it addresses the connected customer.

First off, it's connection to the Salesforce1 platform shows the company's focus on cross-platform experience.

By properly analyzing and leveraging customer data, the company hopes to provide a more personal experience for each customer. According to the presentation, Salesforce wants to use data science to take Salesforce users from logging to automating, from reactive to proactive, and from relationship management to relationship intelligence.

In keeping the theme of intelligence, Harris continued his part of the presentation with a demonstration of SalesforceIQ, which was originally announced yesterday. SalesforceIQ uses data from a user's inbox and calendar to identify trends and help with deals. It will be available as a standalone tool for small business, and for the company's popular Sales Cloud, and will have a Gmail plugin as well.

To speak to the final revolution, the IoT revolution, Harris quickly went through the company's new IoT Cloud powered by the Salesforce Thunder processing engine. Harris said the goal is "to connect the Internet of things to the Internet of Customer."

Basically, it captures individual IoT events, triggers real-time rules, and engages customers in a Salesforce app. It is launching with Microsoft as a launch partner.

The keynote closed by three major partners quickly explaining how they use Salesforce products in their business. Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins, Microsoft Chairman John Thompson, and Western Union CEO Hikmet Ersek all address the crowd before the presentation concluded.

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About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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