Customer Experience

Elevate your Customer Experience with OvationCXM and Salesforce

Customers today expect a smooth, consistent experience that seamlessly flows between a company's website, app, social media presence, virtual assistants and even physical stores. They also expect consistency across different people and teams they engage with under a brand’s umbrella.

It’s not easy to orchestrate connected journeys across all touchpoints, so many organizations are looking to use their current technology investments to meet the need. This is especially true for Salesforce, which now aggressively asserts that many of its products are comprehensive customer experience management solutions. 

It’s tempting. Companies know what they have in Salesforce. If it can do more to elevate customer journeys and use Salesforce for customer experience management, why look elsewhere? 

But here’s a dose of truth for those lured by the siren song of Salesforce for customer experience management: despite their generative AI bells and whistles, they fall short in crucial areas like true end-to-end journey orchestration, customer journey progress visualization, personalized journey engagement, and real-time data integration with external partners and business ecosystems.

In this article, we will examine:

  • The core capabilities of Salesforce for customer experience management
  • The reality of leveraging Salesforce for customer experience management
  • Proven strategies to maximize an existing Salesforce implementation for superior customer experience management and business results.

Beyond the Surface: A Snapshot of Salesforce

Salesforce is the name of the game for Customer Relationship Management (CRM). In fact, we’re fans, users, and an ISV partner of Salesforce

However, claiming Salesforce as a full-fledged customer experience management platform is quite a stretch. While the different Salesforce Clouds offer some customer experience features, it's essentially a repackaging of existing functionalities with a CX label. The limitations become apparent when you start to dig a bit deeper. 

Let’s look at the core Salesforce offerings for the enterprise with CX in mind: Salesforce Data Cloud, Salesforce Service Cloud, Salesforce Experience Cloud and Salesforce Marketing Cloud. 

  • Salesforce Data Cloud: Data Cloud acts as a central hub that brings data from different sources together to support a more comprehensive view of the customer. Data Cloud is also the foundation for connecting Salesforce’s Einstein AI with various clouds across the Salesforce platform. As such, it forms a crucial part of Salesforce’s overall strategy to ensure that each Salesforce offering does not exist in a silo. 
  • Salesforce Service Cloud: Service Cloud is a key offering built on the core Salesforce platform. Service Cloud is the customer service command center and is geared towards service agents and managers. With Service Cloud, organizations can better streamline issue resolution and improve agent efficiencies through robust case management, self-service knowledge bases, live chat support and several AI-powered tools. 
  • Salesforce Experience Cloud: Experience Cloud is a tool that empowers B2B organizations to personalize the customer experience, including the creation of branded online spaces like portals and mobile apps for different audiences. Experience Cloud allows businesses to share information, collaborate, and improve customer engagement.
  • Salesforce Marketing Cloud: Marketing Cloud is a platform designed to help businesses automate marketing across various channels, including email, social media, mobile apps and SMS. It is also the cloud that really hosts Salesforce’s journey builder, which was built to support low or no-touch marketing-focused customer journeys. Marketers use Marketing Cloud to create personalized content, track campaign performance and leverage data from Data Cloud to optimize the customer journey for a cohesive brand experience. 

At their core, all of these Salesforce products offer a centralized platform to manage interactions and data. They connect to Salesforce Data Cloud to ensure access to the same data within Salesforce, and they work together to build a closed-loop CRM, primarily to help track and support individual interactions with the customer across the sales cycle. 

The Limitations of Using Salesforce for CX Management

Herein begins the challenge with Salesforce for customer experience management, which brings us back to our introductory statement: customers today crave seamless experiences, not just positive interactions. 

Studies show that customers can have fantastic one-on-one moments with your company yet leave feeling underwhelmed overall.

Imagine a bank customer excited about a new merchant service product. They checked your website but couldn't find the delivery information. Next, they call the call center and get great service but can't get real-time tracking. Finally, their package arrives, but setting up the product requires another support call. Each touchpoint may be positive, but what about the overall journey? It’s a multi-step, frustrating process with little transparency or clarity. Customers can't see the whole picture, and teams within the organization and across this value chain struggle to get a shared view of where the customer is in their multi-touchpoint experience and share information.

Salesforce Clouds: A Repackaged CRM, Not a True CXM

Now, consider what you must do to create these seamless customer experiences, especially in an age of expanding partner ecosystems. The rise of ecosystems in business means you share customer experiences with partners, even though you might not control every touchpoint. This can be risky, but it's also a huge opportunity. 

Research shows high high-performing ecosystems can dramatically boost revenue and cut costs. The key? Taking responsibility for the entire customer journey, even when parts of it happen outside your organization. That's why you must think about journey orchestration as a true end-to-end experience - one that can’t be siloed, fragmented or opaque at any step.

Data remains locked in the Salesforce universe, and configuration isn’t easy

A crucial first step for customer experience management is really understanding your customer and their baseline: who they are, what their history with your organization is and their current products and services.

In the Salesforce universe, Salesforce Data Cloud acts as an integration layer, allowing for data connection from various sources. This unified data can then be used to create a holistic view of the customer and for tasks like segmentation and personalization across different clouds. Here’s the nuts and bolts of how Salesforce, and specifically Salesforce Data Cloud, tackles this challenge:

  1. Salesforce Data Cloud ingests customer data from various sources into a storage silo.
  2. It prepares the data for analysis by ensuring a consistent format across all sources.
  3. Once the data is cleaned, Salesforce Data Cloud unifies it into customer profiles and creates a central location for all customer information.
  4. Finally, Salesforce Data Cloud then uses matching rules to identify the same customer across different data sets. For situations where the same attribute has conflicting values from different sources (e.g., email address), you can define which value to prioritize (e.g., most recent update).

Those in the trenches will tell you that getting to a unified customer view is far more onerous than it seems. Setting up and integrating various Salesforce clouds isn't a quick process. Each cloud requires configuration and customization, leading to long onboarding times and oftentimes expensive custom development. 

Additionally, data modeling and identity resolution within Salesforce Data Cloud requires specialized knowledge and expertise in its rigid user interface. Need to add new data sources? You add complexity. Make changes to adapt to changing business needs? More complexity. All of which requires more development time. 

Bringing in CX data to Salesforce from your ecosystem is cumbersome

Once set up, Salesforce Data Cloud may do well at collecting data within its own ecosystem. However, the real world of CX management demands a broader view. According to a comment in Gartner Peer Insights about Salesforce, “ …data integration between clouds and external systems can be complex and require additional tools or expertise”. 

Integrating external data warehouses and third-party tools can:

  • Hinder your ability to leverage relevant customer data you need to understand exactly who your customers are and the journeys they are on. 
  • Often involves manual uploads – a tedious and error-prone process. 
  • Salesforce has rigid data requirements that make data mapping and imports a painful process.

Salesforce’s Mulesoft acquisition can solve some of these third-party integration nightmares but inherently requires a development budget. Still, these capabilities are not a core feature of the Salesforce Clouds and add further costs and intricacy to maximizing data potential. The platform itself lacks the flexibility to integrate seamlessly with external service providers and stitch together a cohesive customer experience. 

Salesforce’s full customer data is limited and latent, so journey orchestration is static task management

Since bringing external partners into the customer journey is complex, Salesforce is limited when it comes to sharing customer journeys with external partners (and vice versa). However, other challenges impede end-to-end journey orchestration.

Salesforce’s Journey Builder is a feature of Salesforce Marketing Cloud and is focused, therefore, on marketing-led journeys. Marketing journeys are generally low-touch interactions, unlike complex post-sale journeys. These journeys, often involving human intervention, hand-offs, and ecosystem integration, necessitate real-time visibility into each customer's progress. 

Salesforce isn’t built to support customer journey orchestration across these more complex journey types. You can build different types of journey workflows within Salesforce - but you would need to take on a resource-intensive custom project. Even then, it’s really just a series of task updates feeding you fairly static information to give you a snapshot of a customer’s journey.  

There’s also the issue of data latency. 

Sometimes, Salesforce relies on data imports or integrations to update customer information. This can lead to delays and potentially outdated data used for journey orchestration. 

Finally, data in Salesforce Clouds are updated daily, making it impossible to trigger real-time actions based on customer behavior. While integrations can provide real-time data updates, Salesforce itself is not optimized for real-time processing within journeys.

In short, with Salesforce, it’s a marketing journey orchestrated on their terms, not yours.

Incomplete AI data inputs. Limited AI options. Potentially inaccurate insights. 

Salesforce’s Einstein AI boasts a range of functionalities, including dynamic grounding and secure data retrieval. It also has a plan to support more guardrails on customer-facing AI-generated information (although, at the time of this writing, the details were still forthcoming on their publicly available information).  However, Salesforce Einstein primarily relies on data within its Clouds, so if your organization has a more complex technology stack with customer data scattered across different platforms, Einstein AI will not offer a truly holistic view of the customer journey. This, in turn, raises questions about the accuracy of predictions since, in this context, their models are trained on incomplete data sets. 

Additionally, Salesforce has limitations on the kinds of Large Language Models (LLM) an enterprise can use, limiting the use of newer, more advanced models and restricting its ability to tailor an LLM to their specific needs. It’s also unclear how Salesforce uses customer data for training and improving Einstein AI. 

The Cost of Leveraging Salesforce for CX 

While Salesforce claims powerful tools and unlimited potential when it comes to scaling your business, it comes at a considerable cost. 

We’ve covered some of this already, but it bears a re-mention:

  • Implementation requires significant resources, custom code, specialized personnel and ongoing maintenance. 
  • Getting Salesforce Clouds to talk to each other still requires integration. 
  • They also operate on a subscription model with varying tiers and with a per-user fee. In CX management, the more eyes you have on shared data, the better your teams can guide and own the customer experience. Salesforce’s current pricing model leaves many organizations battling this need to access shared data with the need to save costs.
  • On top of subscription fees, there may be costs associated with custom configurations, data migration processes, and the need for specialized developers to build the complex integrations you would need from an ecosystem perspective.

These barriers are not new information - talk to any large organization scaling with Salesforce or read many online reviews, and the reality that Salesforce is financial and resource quicksand is par for the course. In fact, we were recently in a conversation with a prominent organization that confessed that their Salesforce implementation is now more complicated than their legacy systems! And if you’re looking to renew your Salesforce contract today, you already know that Salesforce is increasing list prices an average of 9% across several products, including Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud, Industries and Tableau (in our own instance, we were told that the 9% fee increase could be waived if we increase the number of Salesforce products we purchase). 

We recognize companies have spent a lot of time, money, effort, and resources on Salesforce, so they are bound to have internal champions willing to build CX-focused features in the platform even if it's an expensive, unwieldy, time-consuming, and, quite frankly, unnecessary process. Don’t accept the sunk cost fallacy that is Salesforce for CX. There is a better option.

No Need to Ditch Salesforce. Supercharge it With CXM

Imagine the following when using our CXM platform in combination with Salesforce: 

  • Any team, including non-technical teams, can be assigned permissions to support the customer experience
  • These teams can design and orchestrate journeys across all touchpoints with drag-and-drop ease.
  • Teams can also quickly iterate on small versioned journey updates without any IT involvement.
  • Connecting to different systems is quick, easy and painless.
  • Data flows freely (and securely) between these different systems, including with service providers outside your walls.
  • Multiple Generative AI models can be leveraged across the entire ecosystem, not just within Salesforce, to empower employees, respond to customer needs and provide powerful insights
  • Teams can stay within the Salesforce UI if they choose.
  • Teams deliver helpful, personalized information to help solve customer queries in as little as one touchpoint.

And you can do it all without costly re-architecture, integrations or long onboarding timeframes. 

It is possible. Just ask some of our clients. 

CXMEngine works in harmony with Salesforce to extend its capabilities and give organizations the kind of visibility, operational calm and real-time information they need to create, manage and orchestrate exceptional customer experiences: 

  • Unified View of the Customer: CXMEngine acts as a central hub, pulling data not just from Salesforce but also from core business systems, partners and more. This holistic view allows teams to see and take charge of the customer journey in its entirety.
  • Effortless Data Integration: Pre-built connectors eliminate the time and expense of custom Salesforce integrations. Data mapping and setup take just weeks, not months.
  • Empowered Teams: Using CXMEngine requires no specialized training and removes the learning curve associated with complex Salesforce customizations.
  • Stick with Salesforce UI: Don’t want to use CXMEngine’s UI to manage customer experiences? You don’t have to. We plug and play into Salesforce so you can do the bulk of your work in Salesforce’s UI if you prefer.
  • Unlocking AI Potential: By incorporating data from a multitude of sources, our powerful multi-model AI approaches ensure you're using the most relevant AI models for each customer, maximizing the value you get out of Salesforce data. We also play very well with Salesforce’s Einstein AI, so you don’t have to pick and choose if you don’t want to. 
  • Rapid Implementation: Pre-built connectors and a clean interface allow organizations to go live with CXMEngine in 60-90 days.

Salesforce + OvationCXM is a powerful combination that allows you to leverage the enterprise muscle of Salesforce while connecting entire ecosystems, leveraging real-time data integration and orchestrating end-to-end journeys.

Want to learn more about this match made in CX heaven? Talk to us today.