Know your customer, regardless of your business’ size

By Riaan Bekker, Force Solutions Manager, thryve

Henry Ford once said that his customers could have any colour car they want, as long as it was black. But this is a widely-misunderstood quote. Ford provided models in many different colours. Instead, his quote was more a jest towards his salespeople, who were pushing for more varieties of models because they thought it would mean more sales.

But Ford saw things differently: it was in the quality of service and dealing with underlying complaints that you keep customers happy. He felt that the salespeople were only listening to 5% of customers, who insisted they want more models, and not the 95% of customers who were happy with what they bought.

Ford had a gift for that kind of intuition, and his success demonstrates how important it is to sweat the little things. You can’t put lipstick on a pig – it won’t make the pig prettier, and it won’t mean anything to people who want to buy the pig. Knowing why your product appeals to customers is perhaps the most critical business skill of all.

But we’re not all lucky to be a Henry Ford or to hire one. Companies have had to make educated guesses about what the market wants. But the arrival of data and digital platforms have changed this – entirely. You can know what your customer wants, sometimes even before they do. All you need is access to Customer 360, Salesforce’s data manager that creates a reliable single view and truth about any customer – from individual sales to large B2B transactions.

Knowledge through data

The most famous example of data-driven consumer profiles is when the US retailer Target sent promotional pregnancy material to a teenager. Her enraged father demanded to know why they are addressing this material to his daughter. But after talking to her, he discovered she was indeed pregnant – the store’s data systems worked that out based on seemingly-unrelated products she recently bought.

There are many ways to apply customer-centricity. For example, if a customer is waiting for a delivery, giving them progress updates via SMS is very valuable. Cross-selling and proactive service reminders are also examples of how data can make customers’ lives easier and interactions with your company more relevant.

Data enables this capability, but that’s also where a significant barrier appears. Every organisation has different departments and teams, often organised into silos. This leaves data spread unevenly. There is no integration between the activities of the separate silos. The fragments tell you little of your customer, except perhaps reactionary tidbits that serve narrow departmental outputs yet not the bigger picture.

A rounded, single view of customers – integrated across your various departments from marketing to sales to after-service – needs a single platform that grants equal access and supports a standard data framework. As you might guess, the answer to this is Salesforce Customer 360.

A Ford in your business

Salesforce is a web-based service platform. It can overlay across the business and its silos with minimal fuss. Customisation can be done at a granular level – even down to individual users – without disturbing the underlying system. There is no legacy lock-in or high purchasing costs. Since the platform integrates with your existing data sources, your business data isn’t threatened. Instead, it’s enhanced because Customer 360 aggregates that data into a single format that is usable across your company.

Once these foundations are in place, your teams can work their magic. They can see information relevant to their jobs, yet also collaborate with other departments to create results. Customer 360 connects other major Salesforce services into a toolset that the entire organisation can use in unison. From direct marketing to support tickets, it all happens through one profile which different parts of your organisation can engage.

thryve’s contribution is to hone, deploy and support the Salesforce platform to your company’s specific needs. Instead of the technology dictating to the business, we have it support your established processes, people and technologies. You can then use the new insights to improve and evolve those three assets as needed.

As a web platform, it can scale as needed. Start small and build your capabilities as Customer 360 grows with you. Even sole proprietors and one-person shops can afford and use this service. Salesforce Customer 360 is like having a Henry Ford’s intuition in your business, but without the cost or complications.