I recently had the chance to speak with Dean Robison, SVP of Global Services at Salesforce, after his talk at the Voice of the Customer conference.

Dean spoke on “Customers for Life.”  It was a great talk that highlighted SalesForce’s commitment to their customers’ success and described their tactics for achieving this.

Customer Success Management

Karl: How do you structure things at Salesforce to focus on Customer Success?

Dean:  SalesForce’s goal is that you have just 2 points of contact in your relationship with us: (i) an Account Executive who sells you on the SalesForce platform and then owns your business relationship and (ii) a Customer Success Manager whose job is to get you productive on the platform and then help you derive maximum value from it.

Karl:  Many SAAS organizations do not have a person and team responsible for the success of their customers.  Rather, this is scattered amongst business owners, sales, and support.  But some organizations have created an explicit customer success manager role like what SalesForce has done.   I think this is the right move.  A dedicated team who job it is to make customers successful and increase retention.

Dean:  It has worked very well for us.

Customer Engagement Analytics

Karl:  One of your slides was titled “We Know Exactly How Our Customers Use Our Products.”  How are you learning about your customers’ use of SaleForce?

Dean: Customer engagement analytics is vital to our customer success effort.  We built the Success Early Warning System (This is what SalesForce calls its home-built system for measuring customer engagement with the SalesForce platform.) The system collects detailed usage data for each SalesForce customer.

Karl:  How do Customer Success Managers use this information?

Dean:  The data this system provides is vital to the Customer Success Manager job.  They use it to:

  • Better understand each customer and their use of SalesForce
  • Proactively reach out to customers who need more help or who aren’t using the system correctly
  • Give specific recommendations on how to get more from the platform
  • Be more responsive when a customer calls in with questions and concerns
  • Perform account reviews

Sales, customer success, support specialists, TAM all look at this customer engagement data to better know and serve their customers.

Virtual Receipts

Karl:  Another way you make good use of customer engagement data is to share it with the customer directly.  I like how each month, SalesForce sends me a Virtual Receipt that describes my feature usage and encourages me to explore less used features.

Learn from the Leaders

Thanks Dean.  It's great to learn from you and from what you are doing to further customer success with SalesForce.