If you have a customer-centric business, then you already know that you need to outreach to your customers. The question then becomes how? We like integrating Salesforce and GroupSwim to accomplish the goal, giving each solution different aspects of the heavy lifting.
Yes, the two solutions have some redundancies like both having knowledge bases. In most of these cases, though, one solution outperforms the other so it makes sense to use a combined best of breed solution to get the give the most to your customer interactions.
Here’s how we envision things – and this is the sort of thing we’re in process of developing. This springboards on a discussion that I touched on in my article Integrate community and CRM solutions & alleviate sales challenges.
Elements of an integrated customer portal
Okay, the first thing you need to understand is that in our integrated vision, the customer will log into a single portal and won’t know which solution they’re using….and there’s no reason why they need to because all they care about is getting information.
The short answer. Use Salesforce to provide customer-specific information and GroupSwim to foster collaboration and communication.
Salesforce-fed parts of the customer portal
In the integrated solution, use Salesforce to expose all customer-specific data such as information related to service level information, case management, asset management, and billing information.
(Slight tangent….If you’re company big wigs have concerns about Sarbanes Oxley, and they should, then why not limit access to your accounting app to those folks who absolutely need access? With this approach, you can then integrate your accounting app to Salesforce and expose customer billing information via Salesforce. The SOX gods are appeased and the mortals still have access to the customer billing info they need).
If you want to make it cooler, allow your customers to download any of this information or generate their own activity reports.
GroupSwim-fed parts of the portal
I love the auto-tagging capability. I also love the way I can connect wikis, user discussions, and file sharing for any given topic.
In your customer portal, use GroupSwim as the pathway to collaborate and communicate with your customers.
This can be through groups that are viewable by all customers – such as product knowledge bases, feature enhancements, company news, etc. You also have the ability to segment these sorts of groups. For example, you might want to give customers who have purchased the widget solutions a different user experience than those that purchased the whatchamacallit solutions.
Additionally, you can also enable groups that are customer-specific. For example, use GroupSwim to manage project collaboration and communication between key members of your staff and theirs.
Branding your customer portal
If you’re going to combine Salesforce and GroupSwim solutions like I’m suggesting, then be sure to take that extra step and skin the customer portal so it looks seamless to visitors.
Feed data back into Salesforce
You’ll want to keep on the look out for opportunities to up-sell your customer.
One way to to do that will be to track customer behavior as individuals participate in your GroupSwim community. Be sure to feed this behavioral data back into Salesforce, and track it as part of an activity related to lead management activities so your Sales team can be an be triggered once activities score to a certain level.
Salesforce.com and GroupSwim are both powerful solutions in their own right. While you can certainly gain value from using them individually or as standalone solutions, the power multiples when they’re integrated together.