How to focus your CRM on the Customer Experience

August 18, 2014 John Gorup


It’s always confusing when I see people writing about “integrating Sales Cloud and Service Cloud.” This is like saying you need to integrate the hydrogen and oxygen in your glass of water. The good news is the molecules in that glass are already integrated. What you do with the glass of water is a more important question. If a company has a consulting firm telling them to integrate sales and service clouds, ask them what they mean. If the consulting firm means adding related lists of opportunities and cases on the account object, please save your company’s money and enroll in an ADM 201 class. If they mean doing the hard work of reimagining how your customers experience doing business with your business, keep listening.

Peter Coffee has described the Sales Cloud and Service Cloud as “serving suggestions.” This is a helpful metaphor, as these are different packages of the same technology. These are not literally different “clouds,” like you would say Amazon Web Services and Workday are cloud computing offerings on different clouds. Sales Cloud and Service Cloud are more accurately described as different user licences that turn on some advanced functionality, like the service contracts and entitlements. Same cloud, just expansions of functionality. Regardless, understanding the reality behind the metaphors we use is a useful way to start thinking about the Modern CRM system.

Writing on the Modern CRM, Kate Leggett writes “Too many CRM initiatives fail because they focus on siloed, internal strategies within the marketing, sales, or support organization. As a result, CRM efforts miss key moments that matter to customers.” The problem Leggett identifies has two dimensions. First, the problem is over-focusing on internal strategies, instead of looking at the outside-in view of customers. Most companies look at the problems their employees face in selling and servicing customers, rather than the problem customers face in buying and getting serviced (the “key moments” for a customer).  By not looking from the outside-in, or from the customers point of view, companies are missing out on an opportunity to build processes that have the greatest impact on revenue generation. Secondly, companies make the mistake of building business process silos (sales, service, marketing). CRM systems fail when these processes are distinct from each other, when in the real life of a business they are more intertwined. Before building a world-class CRM system, companies need to have an outside-in viewpoint on top of a holistic process approach.

To achieve this foundation for success, companies should take these three foundational steps:

1) Understand how customers and prospects experience their organization and products. Catalog what confuses prospects about the sales process. Also, understand customer pain points during the problem solving process.

2) Build a cross-functional center of excellence around CRM and customer experience. The findings in the previous step should guide an effort to start aligning internal processes to address customer experience problems. Also, simplify any process that is too difficult to explain in normal language to someone new to your organization.

3) The first truly “technical” task an organization should focus on is establishing a great data management plan. The most beautiful, mobile-ready CRM systems in the world are useless if they have bad data.

A great CRM system is built on a foundation of customer experience focus, process simplification, and data. This foundation will make future decisions on configuring and customizing Salesforce easier, and lead to a CRM system with greater adoption and a better return on investment.


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