Archive for Salesforce

Salesforce Adds New Conversation Channels to Salesforce Essentials

Posted in Commentary with tags on July 24, 2019 by itnerd

Salesforce today delivered new conversation channels in Salesforce Essentials, the all-in-one CRM solution built specifically for small businesses. Salesforce Essentials empowers every small business to tap into the power of Salesforce with apps for sales and service that are easy to set up, use and maintain. Now small businesses can easily manage and engage with customers on their preferred channels including Facebook Messenger, Instagram and YouTube—all while having a single view of the customer.

Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube have been equalizing forces for small businesses — enabling them to reach billions of prospective customers and grow rapidly. As consumers have gotten accustomed to the instantaneous communication of these platforms, they expect a similar level of communication with the brands they engage with. However, small businesses have limited resources and can’t always provide the level of support customers want. In fact, 58% of SMB leaders say meeting customer experience expectations is a challenge for growth over the next two years. Now, with new conversation channels in Salesforce Essentials, small businesses have the ability to engage with their customers across these modern platforms right alongside tried and true capabilities such as phone and chat.

New features for Salesforce Essentials include:

  • Seamless conversations across social channels — Expanding on existing support of Facebook pages and Twitter, small businesses can now have real-time conversations with their customers over Facebook Messenger. For example, when a customer sends a company a question via Messenger, the message is routed to an employee who can have a live conversation over Messenger, directly from within Salesforce Essentials. With Instagram and YouTube, the employee gets notified when the customer makes a comment on a post or one its videos, and can respond from Salesforce
  • Real-time chat conversations from website or help center — Small businesses can add a Salesforce chat widget to their website, and have the chat routed to an employee who can maintain multiple chat conversations from Salesforce. This provides the employee with a complete view of the customer’s profile so they can step right into the conversation and view features like previous interactions, case history, open sales opportunities or other information within Salesforce.
  • Native phone support built into the #1 CRM — Make and receive customer calls withLightning Dialer for Essentials, an out-of-the-box call center solution built right into the product. When an employee makes or receives the call, the customer’s profile and account information is immediately available with a pop-up screen in Salesforce, giving them the full context and customer history to provide fast and personalized service. Calls are automatically logged within the contact and account activity history of Salesforce, reducing manual data entry and making sure that information doesn’t get lost.
  • Easy channel setup with walkthroughs and live help — Salesforce Essentials offers small business customers a library of simple walkthroughs within the product to easily get set up with all of these new features in minutes—including guided overviews on key channels like Facebook Messenger, chat and phone. A team of Essentials Coaches are included in the U.S. and Canada during trials and the first 90 days of purchase to provide customers with any support needed via 1:1 live chat to get set up in no time.

Pricing and Availability

  • Instagram and YouTube are generally available today. Both are included in Salesforce Essentials at $25 per user, per month.
  • Facebook Messenger and chat are generally available today. Every Salesforce Essentials organization includes 1 license. Additional licenses can be purchased at $15 per user, per month.
  • Lightning Dialer for Essentials is generally available today in the U.S. and Canada at $2 per 100 minutes.
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Salesforce Research Releases Its Third State Of The Connected Customer Report

Posted in Commentary with tags on June 13, 2019 by itnerd

Today, Salesforce Research released its third State of the Connected Customer Report, exploring how customer expectations are shifting, and which emerging technologies are transforming their standards.

Companies are being challenged to rethink not just the individual experiences they provide customers, but their entire approach to customer engagement. Customer expectations keep soaring, with trust and corporate values becoming increasingly important, and tailored, contextualized engagement across multiple touchpoints is the new benchmark.

As innovation like artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things accelerates, companies are racing to foster the digitally-savvy relationships that consumers and business buyers demand. It has now become essential for companies to get ahead of the digital curve in order to remain competitive.

Below are some key Canadian highlights from the report:                           

  • New Expectations Shift the Digital Transformation Playbook
    • 64% of customers expect companies to use new tech to create better experiences
    • 43% of customers are open to the use of AI to improve their experiences
    • 47% of Gen Xers view voice assistants as revolutionary
  • Extraordinary Experiences Raise the Bar for Customer Engagement:
    • 43% of customers say companies need to transform how they engage with them
    • 70% of customers expect companies to interact with them in real time
    • 60% of customers would rather use self-service for simple questions/issues                               
  • Trust and Corporate Values are More Important, Yet Elusive
    • 66% of customers believe trust in companies matters more than it did a year ago
    • 58% of customers have stopped buying from a company that did something distrustful
    • 52% of customers actively seek to buy from environmentally sustainable companies

Get your copy of the report here.

 

Canadian Businesses Must Digitize to Remain Competitive: Salesforce

Posted in Commentary with tags on June 6, 2019 by itnerd

Salesforce has released a report that explores the pivotal role of technology in Canadian business. It looks at how companies are (and are not) digitizing, with a lens into some of the major barriers and concerns Canadian businesses have about keeping up.

The report reveals that 79 per cent of Canadian businesses agree that in order for Canada to be seen as a global leader in innovation, it is essential for all sectors to digitize — but 1 in 3 Canadian businesses recognize that their use of tech has stayed the same over the past three years and about half admit they don’t know where to get practical advice on how to use emerging tech.

From significant government investments in AI to a growing number of start-ups cropping up across the country, Canada has become a hotbed for innovation. But, in an increasingly automated world, embracing digital adoption and cloud technology is paramount to staying competitive. Salesforce is looking to better understand the barriers many Canadian businesses still face through this report, which contains responses across industries, and over indexes on legacy sectors which are set to feel the greatest effects of automation.

Report Highlights

  • 79% of Canadians believe it is essential for all sectors to digitize in order for Canada to be seen as a global leader in innovation
  • Yet 52% believe that Canada still lags behind other countries when it comes to technology adoption
  • Canadian businesses that have significantly increased their use of tech are twice as likely as others (27% vs. 13%) to report strong growth over the past three years
  • Although Canadian businesses are slower to adopt technologies like AI, adoption over the next three years is expected to more than double
  • 60% of Canadian businesses believe AI and emerging tech will replace a lot of jobs
  • About half (49%) of Canadian businesses say it’s difficult to get advice about how to apply emerging tech (automation, big data, AI)
  • 62% of Canadian businesses say it’s difficult to find and attract the right talent with tech skills needed to thrive in today’s environment

Salesforce has a microsite here and you can download the report from there.

Salesforce Introduces The First Low-Code Blockchain Platform for CRM

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 29, 2019 by itnerd

Salesforce today announced Salesforce Blockchain, a low-code platform that enables organizations to share verified, distributed data sets across a trusted network of partners and third parties. By bringing blockchain to the world’s #1 CRM platform, companies can create blockchain networks, workflows and apps that deliver entirely new customer experiences. Salesforce Blockchain made its debut today at TrailheaDX, Salesforce’s fourth annual developer conference.

Today, connectivity is redefining how businesses operate and the experiences that customers expect. To deliver this, companies must harness and share massive amounts of data with an ever-evolving network of partners and third parties, all without sacrificing trust. This has introduced unnecessary levels of cost and inefficiencies. Blockchain solves this “trust gap” by delivering a distributed ledger that saves, traces and authenticates data across every partner—or node—in the network. Organizations in all industries can leverage blockchain for a variety of use cases like asset tracking, credentialing and verification and authentication of goods. By combining CRM workflows with blockchain data, companies can create new business processes and models that span sales, service, marketing and beyond to accelerate the speed of business.

Create Trusted Partner Networks with Salesforce Blockchain
Salesforce Blockchain is a low-code blockchain platform that extends the power of CRM. Built on the open source technology of Hyperledger Sawtooth and deeply customized for Salesforce Lightning, Salesforce Blockchain lowers the barrier for creating trusted partner networks. Salesforce Blockchain enables companies to easily bring together authenticated, distributed data and CRM processes. With Salesforce Blockchain anyone can:

  • Build Networks with Clicks—Easily build and maintain blockchain networks, apps and smart contracts—unique to every business—using Salesforce’s powerful low-code capabilities. Customers can now create and share a blockchain object in the same process as any CRM data object—with clicks, not code.
  • Automate Data with Lightning Platform—Make blockchain data actionable through native integration with Salesforce. Layer complex blockchain data on top of existing sales, service or marketing workflows like search queries and process automation. Even more, companies can now run Einstein-powered artificial intelligence algorithms that integrate blockchain data into sales forecasts, predictions and more.
  • Engage Partners Easily—Lower the barrier to entry for partners, distributors and intermediaries to leverage Salesforce Blockchain. Companies can now pull in APIs, pre-built apps and integrate any existing blockchains with Salesforce. With an intuitive engagement layer, companies can also easily interact with and add third parties to their blockchain with a few clicks and a simple authentication—creating trust networks.

Customers using Salesforce Blockchain today include:

Arizona State University
A leading public research institution, Arizona State University is using Salesforce Blockchain to design and create an educational network that enables universities to verify and securely share information. This network will expand the ability for universities and colleges to serve learners, for example, by saving student transcripts and accomplishments into a Learner Trust Record on unified ledger, a tool that will create a record of the entirety of a learner’s accomplishments. With Salesforce Blockchain, Arizona State University seeks to give ownership and control of learner records to the learners themselves, while significantly reducing friction between institutions and allowing them to provide faster and more intelligent services to students.

IQVIA
IQVIA, a leading global provider of advanced analytics, technology solutions and contract research services to the life sciences industry, recognizes that blockchain, as an emerging technology, could potentially impact the life sciences industry and healthcare. As such, IQVIA is collaborating with Salesforce to explore a variety of possible blockchain technology initiatives within this sector. One of those initiatives, using the Salesforce Blockchain, is specific to regulatory information management and drug label processing. Potential benefits from this initiative include cost savings via label automation and improved audit traceability; quality improvements based on agreed collaborative rules; enhanced security from immutable content sharing; and real-time insights.

S&P Global Ratings
A leading provider of ratings, benchmarks, analytics and data for the global capital and commodity markets, S&P Global Ratings is leveraging Salesforce Blockchain to reduce the time it takes to review and approve new business bank accounts. By operating on a shared ledger of know-your-customer (KYC) data, S&P Global Ratings is able to bring multiple reviews together in one trusted location, providing a more transparent and auditable review process, for employees, partners and customers—ensuring that we engage only with verified organizations.

Availability

  • Salesforce Blockchain is currently available to select design partners and expected to become generally available in 2020.

Additional Information

  • Learn more about Salesforce Blockchain here
  • Take the Trailhead Salesforce Blockchain Trail here
  • Read the blog post about Salesforce Blockchain here
  • Tune into TrailheaDX to learn more about Salesforce Blockchain here

Salesforce Releases Q1 Shopping Index Report

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 4, 2019 by itnerd

Salesforce’s 2019 Q1 Shopping Index Reports is out and it sheds light on new trends and sales opportunities for consumers and retailers. The report shows regional data and global insights about consumers’ online shopping habits collected from the online shopping behaviour of 500-million consumers.

In looking across the past nine quarters of shopper clicks, taps, and purchases, Q1 2019 was the first time in recent memory that the story of digital shopping wasn’t dominated by mobile. While mobile continues to be a key driver of commerce growth and innovation, Q1 data tracked exciting new shopper behaviors across visit duration, artificial intelligence (AI), athletic apparel and beyond.

Key Canadian data includes:

The Impact of AI is Undeniable – AI (not mobile) drives spending:

  • In Q1, artificial intelligence proved it’s not just a buzzword – it’s having a major influence on revenue.
  • Shoppers who acted upon AI powered product recommendations averaged 26% higher average order values (AOV) compared to shoppers who didn’t engage with them.

Active apparel on the cusp of becoming a premium category:

  • Active apparel was the best-performing vertical in Q1, with sales growth up 18%
  • Consumers are more willing to pay a premium for trendy, high-quality athletic clothing, and as the category becomes more desirable, retailers are steadily applying higher price points — and shoppers are willing to pay.

Canadian Shopping Stats

  • In Q1, Canadian digital commerce grew 18% year over year, seeing the third most digital growth globally.
  • 39% of Canadian digital shoppers in Q1 placed an order using a mobile device, slightly above the global average of 34%.
  • Merchandise discount rate hit a two year low at 25%.
  • While product assortment growth for Canadian retailers remains healthy at 14%, the growth number has been consistently weakening since 2018 Q2, when product growth was 19%.

Traffic stagnated & visits were shorter but sales rose. Canadians are spending more on their smartphones:

  • Traffic only grew 2% in Q1, but shopper spend increased 10%. That means shoppers’ visits are less frequent, but more productive.
  • Spending on mobile devices still rules – 39% of all online transactions occur on a mobile smartphone (compared to 4% on computers, 7% on tablets).
  • Placing orders on a desktop or laptop computer have dropped 12% since 2017, where mobile device purchases are up by 14% in the same time frame.
  • Although the majority of online orders occur on a mobile device, the per-visit average amount of time spent on the site by shoppers, in minutes, is the lowest of all devices at 4 minutes. This means retailers have an increasingly short window of time to win shoppers’ attention.

Online searches are driving shoppers to sites:

  • Use of site search increased from 9% to 12% of all visits since 2017.
  • Revenue contribution from site has climbed to 26% (from 25%), indicating a need for brands and retailers to fine-tune their “searchandizing” and advertising strategies by incorporating AI customer solutions.

To download the entire report, please click here. [Warning: PDF]

Salesforce Research Releases Its Third State of Service Report

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 20, 2019 by itnerd

Salesforce Research has released its third State of Service Report exploring the impact of artificial intelligence on the future of customer service.

Technology is drastically redefining customer standards and ultimately, the way brands hire, train, serve and sell. Customers are demanding faster, more personalized and connected experiences. It is more apparent now than ever before that customer service is the competitive differentiator for brands. In fact, 80% of customers say the experience a company provides is just as important as it product.

With new technology trends like chatbots, artificial intelligence, mobile workers, cross-functional engagement and the marriage of human expertise with AI augmentation (80% of service decision makers believe AI is most effective when deployed with – rather than in place of – humans), the future of customer service is complex, competitive and full of opportunity.

Below are some key highlights from Salesforce’s State of Service report, which takes a critical approach to analyzing key trends that employers should consider when it comes to service.

Canadian Specific Report Highlights:

  • AI’s Impact Takes Shape – 23% of businesses plan to use artificial intelligence within the next 18 months compared to the 15% that currently use it, a 153% projected growth rate.
  • Customer Engagement Goes Digital and Cross-Functional – 52% of service professionals say their organization is seeing increased case volume through digital channels.
  • The Fourth Industrial Revolution Drives Service Transformation – 78% of service decision makers say their company’s customer service must transform in order to stay competitive.

Global Report Highlights:

  • AI’s Impact Takes Shape – 80% of service decision makers believe AI is most effective when deployed with – rather than in place of – humans.
  • Customer Service is on the Cusp of an AI Revolution – 56% of service decision makers say their organizations are actively looking for ways to use AI.
  • The Mobile Workforce Has Become the Face of Brands – Nearly 9 in 10 (89%) of service decision-makers say the experience a customer has with a mobile worker is a reflection of their brand. Given the level of importance of the mobile workforce, 71% of service decision-makers plan to be making significant investments in their mobile workforce.

The report provides a comprehensive analysis based on data provided from over 3,500 customer service decision makers and agents worldwide. Data is from a blind survey conducted from Nov. 27 through Dec. 15, 2018. Survey respondents are from North America, Latin America, Asia-Pacific, and Europe. All respondents are third-party panelists (not limited to Salesforce customers).

You can download the full report here. An infographic is also available below:

SOService_Infographic

IWD 2019: The Rise of the Female Entrepreneur

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 8, 2019 by itnerd

With today being International Women’s Day,  Salesforce is sharing through a recent report that explores how female entrepreneurs are shaping the small business landscape in Canada. While women business owners are making huge strides, this report indicates that there is still work to be done.

Commissioned in partnership with The Gandalf Group, The New Canadian Entrepreneur: Women and the Future of Small/Medium Business in Canada shares how small business owners are increasingly female, younger and more educated than entrepreneurs of previous generations. Highlights are below and I’ve attached the entire report for easy reference.

The Rise of the Female Entrepreneur

  • 53% of female-led businesses have been in business for five years or less, compared to 34% of male-led business, suggesting that women are starting businesses at a far greater rate.
  • There is a growing number of female entrepreneurs under the age of 45 (59%) compared to their male counterparts under 45 (42%). About one quarter (27%) of  female entrepreneurs are younger than 35.

What is driving the momentum?

  • Women tend to be more motivated by work-life balance (79%), whereas men tend to be more motivated by financial considerations (78%).
  • While women stated work-life balance as the top reason for starting their business (79%), it is also one of the biggest challenges they face as entrepreneurs (52%).

Industry Focus: STEM:

  • Men are twice as likely as women to own a business in the STEM sector
  • Women business owners in the STEM sector experience significantly greater challenges than their male counterparts:
    • 65% of women surveyed struggle to achieve work-life balance (compared to 48% of men)
    • 63% of women surveyed reported obstacles accessing capital (compared to 40% of male entrepreneurs)
    • 61% of women surveyed feel that their services are undervalued by customers (compared to 41% of male entrepreneurs)

When it comes to technology adoption, the data showed few gender differences yet displayed stark generational disparities, suggesting that technology is contributing to the uptick in younger, female entrepreneurs and levelling the playing field for women and men business owners in Canada. Toronto-based entrepreneur Leigh-Anne Nugent, CEO, LAN CRM, is a living example of this. After beginning her career at an asset management firm in a Salesforce Admin role, she became a single mother and needed to take her future into her own hands. Leveraging her knowledge of CRM technology, she founded a Salesforce consultancy. Technology has empowered her to be her own boss in a male dominated industry while also achieving the work-life balance she needs as a young single mother.

The report can be found here and it’s very much worth a read.