Commbank, Spotify, Vodafone turn social

Salesforce trotted out a bevy of customers yesterday to convince Cloudforce attendees in Sydney that they need to embrace the Salesforce social vision, or risk losing touch with customers and employees.
Written by Suzanne Tindal, Contributor

Salesforce trotted out a bevy of customers yesterday to convince Cloudforce attendees in Sydney that they need to embrace the Salesforce social vision, or risk losing touch with customers and employees.


Andy Lark at Cloudforce
(Credit: Suzanne Tindal/ZDNet Australia)

The Commonwealth Bank is one of the companies buying into this vision. According to chief marketing officer Andy Lark, using Salesforce's enterprise social network Chatter was "not a 24-month decision". One reason for this is the fact that a "huge" number of the Commonwealth Bank's thousands of employees don't have a dedicated device — for example, bank tellers.

"They have very tight security boundaries around them. So it's not as easy to deploy just an email address, because they're not in a dedicated system," Lark said.

"The world of email is much like the world of the fax machine, because you need a dedicated device for it to work, or you need a physical location.

"The beauty of the social environment ... is it's extensible to the individual's personal mobile device, and its manageable through a common identity-management construct."

Salesforce pointed out that while you can follow people on Chatter, you can also follow data and campaigns. One person might follow a support case, and keep track of it as it is escalates. Other people can add advice on the case, which will then show in the feed.

It's also possible to do approvals through Chatter; Salesforce showed a demo of how a Commonwealth Bank employee might use it in this way. In the example, an employee asked for his manager's approval over Chatter's instant-message function for a client's home loan. The employee and manager could then go to the home loan specialist group on Chatter, and ask for the location of the step-by-step guide for home loans. The manager was then provided with the link on Chatter, and used that to provide the document to the client, before organising to meet them later about the home loan.

"When you look at the employee coming into the workforce today, they're bringing their own device to work; they're bringing their own network to work. Increasingly, they want to collaborate and work in the same way they have lived their lives. Trying to force a fax machine or email on them — you cannot run a business that way," Lark said.

It's also about transparency, according to Lark. He believes that social networking "blows the enterprise wide open".

"We're not just deploying Chatter; we're deploying Radian 6, we're using Salesforce as a CRM foundation," Lark said.

"Salesforce actually becomes an integration point for a multitude of big datasets and CRM implementations. It extends all the way out into marketing automation, and how you capture a lead."

Lark said that the next step for the bank is going to be building on its own community, not as a part of Facebook or Twitter, but as a community for itself.

"There are a lot of people here today that are managing massive customer bases," he said.

"The question is not just what we do in Facebook ... but how do we build our own community?"

Spotify also came out to talk about its use of Salesforce Rypple. Being a relatively small company that's distributed across the globe (there are 12 employees in Australia), it's important that employees keep in touch, according to Australia and New Zealand managing director Kate Vale.

Rypple allows employees to publish objectives, which are then visible to the entire company. It also enables easy creation of performance reports, and lets employees praise others for work well done.

"Spotify was founded about four years ago in Sweden. We've got HQ over there, but also in New York," she said. Because of this, most of the important meetings involving goals and objectives happen at 1am Australian time, which is not an amenable time for Vale, as she has two small children.

"Recently, we had what we call a Town Hall, where all the employees get on the phone at 1am and our company goals and objectives were shared," she said.

"In Australia, we're so remote, we're not getting up at that time in the morning, but we can log on the next morning to Rypple and we can effectively see what the CEO has set for the business and also, when we're progressing through the quarter, what's going on."

She also used Rypple for the recent Australian Spotify launch, asking for help on PR and marketing from an overseas team, as she didn't have the resources in Australia. The PR person did such a good job that Vale recognised her on Rypple for it. As a consequence, that person has now been given a promotion, and is responsible for helping other launching nations.

Vodafone was the last customer that Salesforce called onto the stage, with the telco's customer-operations director, Cormac Hodgkinson, talking about what the company learned from its much-publicised network issues in 2010.

He said that it is important for the company to listen and communicate that it is listening, which is something its then-CEO Nigel Dews has admitted the company previously failed at.

The sheer volume of the social-media feedback that Vodafone was receiving overwhelmed it at the time. The problem, according to Hodgkinson, was that Vodafone wasn't just ignoring the conversation; it was telling its users that there was no problem, which did nothing for the brand.

Since then, Vodafone has made changes to the language it uses on social networks, and ensures that the people it puts in place to respond to queries have the skills to be able to do so. It has also put into place 24/7 support.

To manage the volume of feedback, it also introduced Salesforce's sentiment analysis product, Radian 6.

"With that vast growth in the volume we saw through our social channels, it was critical that if you can deal with that volume, you've got to have a consistent, effective, efficient way to do that," he said.

"[Radian 6] puts all the information together for us, and allows us to trend what's happening, and it also allows us to pick up, real time, what is happening to that customer experience."

This allows Vodafone to respond to urgent issues, and also to be proactive about informing customers that it is aware of outages, and is working on them.

The next step for the company is making better use of Chatter, which Vodafone has rolled out into retail stores.

Vodafone aims to have a swarm of experts on Chatter, so that when a customer-service representative makes a post about a customer problem, someone immediately answers with a solution.

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