The Australian arm of eBay-owned online classified site, Gumtree, launched an automotive division in 2010, which created the foundation for the company to establish relationships with business customers, who in this case were car dealers.
But according to Gumtree Australia's head of automotive, Gian Minns, that also raised issues and a "bunch of complexities" for the business, including how it was going to manage the relationships with its new customers that all having specific needs, contracts and agreements, invoicing, and collection of money.
For Minns, the solution was to integrate a CRM system. As a result, the company partnered with Salesforce.com for its Service Cloud product that enabled the division to keep track of each customer interaction, conversation, and outcome. It also allowed the company to monitor its query process and learn from outcomes.
According to Minns, Gumtree's automotive division grew its business customer base to 1200 dealers within the first year of establishment, after taking only seven weeks to integrate the new function.
"I think our overarching goal was to come up with a system that was going to be user-friendly and built effective relationships with the business and these users," he said.
"What's unique for us was that we relied on Salesforce. Prior to having Salesforce's Service Cloud there wasn't that opportunity, and it helped us figure what was the best business practice."
Admitting while there were no major hurdles during the implementation process, Minns said the greatest challenge the company faced was finding a system that would integrate with its existing business systems that were already in place, such as its global finance and account software, and the Gumtree platform.
"We chose to use a partner to do a lot of the development work with Salesforce, which was WDCI. They looked at the requirements of the Gumtree platform, and our finance system, and advised of a solution and integration that was able to solve all of the challenges for doing that, and we built from scratch a simple but a very robust solution, and it served us very well," he said.
Reaching out to an experienced partner earlier on in the implementation process is what Minns said he would have if he was given the opportunity again, despite already have a development team in-house.
"If you're a business implementing Salesforce for the first time, no matter how smart you are, there's really not much compared with an experienced partner," he said.
While Gumtree's automotive division is the only area where business customers exist, Minns said the company is also in the process of rolling out Salesforce Service Cloud to its display advertising business.
"Gumtree is a very lean infrastructure [business], and we've really loved the way Salesforce has enabled, in a light touch way, bring on a whole lot of class to customers with different operational needs, and customise our processes around that."