Editor's Notes: Help Your Customers Help You
I made it to the Dreamforce convention in San Francisco for the first time this year. It’s a massive show—100,000-plus attendees, a staggering number for what is essentially a big Salesforce user conference.
What staggered me more, though, was the realization that this huge, money-making conference grew out of a simple social-business strategy: When you help your customers help each other, you help them help you.
The Message Multiplier
Most business software companies keep their heads down. They don’t venture much into the space of the consumer consciousness. Salesforce is the antithesis of that. B-to-B marketers for years have been saying you need to market to businesspeople as people first. At Dreamforce, Salesforce does that.
Salesforce goes out of its way to connect its customers. Not just to connect “evangelists” with other customers, but all of its customers with each other.
It’s as if the company is trying to serve the same purpose as a Facebook or Twitter. In fact, Salesforce hosts the “Success Community” social network for registered members. But that, in itself, isn’t new. Cisco and IBM have both done the same for years.
What is new is the level of commitment the company has to connecting its users online and in person. Customers crave community, support, ideas and reinforcement. Salesforce helps its customers find that online with the Success Communities, and in person with live events across the country.
“Become a customer company,” said Mark Benioff, Salesforce founder, chairman and CEO, to attendees during the Tuesday keynote. “Some companies are pivoted to their competitors. Some are pivoted to their investors. Some are pivoted within. We want to inspire you all to become pivoted to your customers.”
This is how the company takes its own advice.
The big-picture benefit is this: Every Salesforce customer who is inspired by that connection and finds success becomes a stronger Salesforce advocate. When they tell others how they succeeded, Salesforce will star in that story. If other connections are having issues with Salesforce, they’ll try to help them.
This is what social business really looks like. It’s not about whether you’re posting to Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, it’s about how you grow and leverage that engaged, interacting customer community.
When it works, you create an environment of success and positivity. And at the center of that environment is your product, the nigh inevitable choice for anyone else who wants to be part of that winning community.
When you help customers help each other, they can’t help but help you.