ABOUT THE VENDOR
Salesforce.com builds and delivers enterprise applications as scalable online services. The company's CRM solution provides integrated online sales force automation, customer support management, and marketing automation components to help companies meet the complex challenges of global customer communication. Founded in 1999, salesforce.com is headquartered in San Francisco, with offices in Europe and Asia. Salesforce.com currently has more than 3,000 customers including Adobe Systems, Alamo Rent-a-Car, Autodesk, Broadvision, First Union National Bank, Siemens, and Thomas Cook Global Services.
ABOUT THE CUSTOMER
Dow Jones Newswires is the world's leading independent, real-time financial news provider. It delivers more than 7,000 items daily covering economic, financial, and market-moving political news from around the world. Founded in 1882, Dow Jones Newswires has more than 700 real-time editors and reporters. It also draws on Dow Jones & Company's network of more than 1,600 business and financial journalists -- more business reporters than any other news organization in the world. Dow Jones Newswires is published by Dow Jones & Company. Dow Jones & Company publishes The Wall Street Journal and its international and online editions, Barron's and SmartMoney magazines and other periodicals, Dow Jones Indexes, and the Ottaway group of community newspapers. Dow Jones is co-owner with Reuters
ABOUT THE TECHNOLOGY
Salesforce.com provides online CRM as a subscription Web-based service and charges a monthly fee per user. As the first complete CRM service to be offered online, salesforce.com aims to help companies enhance long-term customer relationships without incurring the failure rates and massive implementation and maintenance costs associated with traditional enterprise client-server applications. Salesforce.com upgrades its application automatically every three months.
Dow Jones was looking for a Web-based CRM solution to replace a failed software-based system. SearchCRM spoke with project manager Kellie Wilson about the project.
SearchCRM: Why did you decide to evaluate CRM solutions?
Wilson: We already had a CRM solution. We rolled it out two times to our group, and it failed both times. It was very cumbersome to use. It was software-based; we had servers here in New Jersey that our users in the outer offices had to synchronize to, and it took quite a bit of time. We would crash the servers quite often.
We needed to look for something else -- something easier and something Web-based.
SearchCRM: Why did you choose salesforce.com?
Wilson: They had everything we needed in the base package. They had contact management, the ability to send e-mails -- the ability to take care of all our contact management needs. But they also were in the midst of doing a beta of supportforce.com, which is their support package and which we desperately needed because we have an 800 desk here. We needed to be able to track all of our calls and have a 360-degree view of the customer.
Their salesperson listened to everything that we needed and we could see that they were going to grow with us and take our ideas into consideration.
SearchCRM: Were there any challenges during the implementation at your end?
Wilson: We cleaned up our data and we were able to export almost everything ourselves, but then we ran into a little snag and had to call in salesforce.com's technical support. They couldn't get our data out either because there was something funky about one of the fields. They then brought in Ascendix, which is a service partner, and we had the data out and in after about eight days.
SearchCRM: Did you experience any internal resistance?
Wilson: We had it from the same few people who don't want to use anything. Some people just want to keep little files and Post-It notes and they don't want any automation at all.
SearchCRM: Were you able to overcome that resistance?
Wilson: It was a very small group [that didn't want to use the new system], and they have a new director. This director requires them to put all their information in there, and that's where she's getting their monthly reports from -- so they have to use it. I think that they will just never admit that it's a beautiful thing.
SearchCRM: How do you use the product in your day-to-day operations?
Wilson: I sit with the customer support group, and they use it every day for every single call that they get in. This way we can track what customers are calling in, what their problems are, if there's something we're just not resolving, or if there's another group we need to get involved. It keeps a history of every thing we do for our accounts. Our salespeople then use that information before going out on a client visit so they're not hit as they walk through the door with someone, say, complaining about a billing problem. The salespeople are prepared and they're aware of what their customers are calling in about.
We have a lot of trials that we do of our services and we have a lot of opportunities that we're tracking. The product managers for those different products can go in and look at what types of trials and opportunities are going on related to the products that they service.
SearchCRM: What's been the most rewarding result of the CRM system so far?
Wilson: I have 98 users, and I'd say that 70 use it every single day. To me, that's rewarding; that means I didn't waste my time this time around in training and supporting them. The feedback is better now; we're not getting a lot of "Oh, no, now I have to go and use this thing." Now everyone's a little bit happier because it's easier.
I think that management sees a lot of difference. I think they're getting a lot of information out of the database, and in general we're more streamlined now.
SearchCRM: How does all this help your customers?
Wilson: Not only do we have all the cases recorded, but we also have a solutions knowledgebase that we've built. This way, we're answering all of our customers with the same answers. We have a solutions manager, so any solution that goes in from anybody else on the desk, she cleans it up and makes sure that it's correct. So we're getting back to people quicker because we have the answers at our fingertips.
SearchCRM: Do you have any advice for companies that are thinking of starting a similar project?
Wilson: Make sure that your data is clean if you're moving from one system to another. You don't want people to go in and say, "You have all these duplicates in here." Even after all the cleaning we did, we still ran into that problem. You really need to tell people, "Keep it clean, keep it consistent -- it's your data."
Linda Formichelli's writing appeared this year in Woman's Day, Wired, Writer's Digest, Family Circle, Psychology Today. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or check out her Web site http://www.twowriters.net
This was first published in November 2001