Leader Interview | Discussing collaboration with Phil Neal, Vice President, Industries at Salesforce

Discussing collaboration with Phil Neal, Vice President, Industries at Salesforce

How important is customer centricity to Salesforce.

Customer centricity is central to what we've done and what we will continue to do. Putting the customer at the heart of all our interactions, our solutions and our products ensures that we can service our customers' needs today and in the future. In an ever changing world, customer requirements are continuously evolving. By understanding them and putting them at the heart of everything that we do, we can continue to provide the best possible service.

What are the foundations of customer success?

It all starts with data, understanding the data and providing the tools, systems and business processes, to put that data in the hands of individuals. This enables them to take the right actions, at the right point of time, to best support the customer and the customer's customer. It just drives better outcomes for everybody.

How important is it to collaborate across the organisation?

Effective collaboration across other teams is absolutely central to our success. Whether you're in sales, service, finance, employee success, you need to communicate around common goals and objectives. Our recent acquisition of Slack has enabled this, it is central to everything that we do, and I personally use it as the single platform to engage with my team, my partners, my customers and my product specialists. It provides a single source of collaboration across the entire business.

How do companies move from a tactical to a more strategic view of customer centricity?

It all starts with truly understanding the customer. It sounds easy, but actually, it starts with listening. If we do deep listening; which not many people do, recognise the objectives and the challenges the customer is facing, we can then really understand the business. Then we can unravel the customer journey, from the very first engagement, through the nurturing of that lead to a prospect, through to quoting for the opportunity, selling and ultimately delivering services. If we are aware of the whole process, through deep listening and deep understanding, it leads to a much better outcome for the customer.

Do you require a methodology?

Absolutely. At Salesforce, we have a customer 360 methodology that is best in class. Everyone is trained on the methodology so we have a standard approach across all roles and functions. When we do any customer reviews, deal reviews, account reviews, we're all basing it off the same methodology. We’re all aligned and we all understand what we're doing, when we're doing it and how we get to the end goal.

How do you manage continuous improvement and innovation?

Primarily by engaging with our customers. We have a series of customer advisory and industry boards that provide insights and feedback on what we are doing well, where we need to improve, or what we could do differently. We invite customers to share their insights and objectives to influence our roadmap, our go to market and our point of view. Understanding customers is at the heart of everything we do, so why not have those conversations with them directly to hear how we can achieve better outcomes.

Do you use customer journey mapping techniques?

Yes, we use them extensively to understand the customer and to ensure that our solutions meet their needs. We also use a process called Illuminate where we embed consultants within the customer for a period of time, 6-12 weeks depending on the complexity of the client. They engage across all business functions to really unlock what that client is looking to achieve and then map that back to a target architecture and a technology agnostic solution stack to meet those requirements. This is incredibly powerful because it enables buy in from different stakeholders, provides everybody the opportunity to input and ensures a shared consensus on business objectives.

Across many digital transformations, what's your biggest learning?

Simple. Whilst customers do have unique requirements, all of them have the same requirement around people. For any transformation programme to be successful, we need to get the people on board. It starts with the senior leadership team who've got the vision to do the transformation. But ultimately, it comes down to everybody within an organisation to embrace the change and to take on board that their transformation programme will be beneficial to them, their customers and their partners.

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