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Strong customer experience still awaits customer data integration

Dufl and Kone are both on the move with their operations and are trying to create a solid customer experience by combining data from various back-office systems.

As he prepared to board a transatlantic flight from London, the founder of the startup Dufl Inc. felt the pain of air travel acutely. He was on his way to Phoenix, but no sooner had he arrived, he recalled, than he would learn he had to turn around and board a plane to New York. As he pondered dragging his luggage through the airport, onto the plane, back home, then onto yet another flight, he thought, "There must be a better way."

Tempe, Ariz.-based Dufl was borne of the desire to alleviate some of the challenges of travel by creating an app for frequent air travelers to improve customer experience. However, soon after its launch, executives at Dufl realized the company needed to make customer data integration the foundation of its strategy to achieve that goal. It needed customer data integration between systems -- with flight information, inventory data and customer account data in a customer relationship management (CRM) system.

The Dufl app targets road warriors and creates a "virtual closet" from which travelers can select clothing and other personal items to be packed and shipped to their destinations, eliminating the need to check bags, pack or do laundry. But ensuring that bags are always shipped on time, to the correct location and with all the correct items is a feat. It requires a combination of technology on the back end, with systems that can integrate customer account information; inventory data; and travel information from multiple sources.

To enable this careful coordination of systems and data, Dufl enlisted two applications from the Salesforce Customer Success Platform: Sales Cloud and Service Cloud. With Sales Cloud, Dufl can scout new prospects; with Service Cloud, it can manage the logistics and inventory required to get luggage to the right location.

Together, these systems enable Dufl to solicit new prospects from the same systems that manage its existing ones -- without compromising service to either.

Executives at Dufl realized the company needed to make customer data integration the foundation of its strategy to achieve that goal.

"We have a robust suite ... [of] end-user customer management tools and a robust suite of prospecting and digital marketing tools on the business end -- and have that all live in one place," explained A.J. McGowan, chief technology officer at Dufl.

Data suggests that companies that integrate applications for sales, marketing and customer service can reap the benefits. According to the 2016 "The State of Salesforce" report, which surveyed more than 1,700 Salesforce customers, 80% said that they got greater value from Salesforce than they had 12 months prior, as a result of integrating multiple Salesforce clouds.

At the same time, for many companies, this customer data integration is still a far-off prospect. According to the "2015 State of B2B Marketing report," only 17% of companies have achieved customer data integration throughout their departments.

McGowan said that using Salesforce enables Dufl to focus on its core business -- keeping attention on logistics, inventory management and customer experience by building custom applications that run on the Salesforce Heroku platform.

"We can focus on just our core pieces of our business as we build them, and Salesforce ties all that together in the cloud," McGowan said. "We don't have to reinvent the wheel." With a Net Promoter Score of 80, Dufl strives to meet the needs of customers in an anytime, anywhere fashion.

At the same time, McGowan said, the logistics and inventory management needs of Dufl customers are specialized enough that more data intelligence can only help in the future. While Dufl has access to flight data and CRM system information, there is more intelligence the company can bring to bear to make the packing and shipping of luggage even more efficient. This will require using artificial intelligence and other tools.

McGowan declined to comment on the company's next steps, but said "we plan to get smarter about user behavior; what they might want to pack."

Movin' on up with customer data integration

For Kone, maintaining elevators and escalators isn't just about managing a hunk of metal. It's about providing a complete customer experience that meets changing customer needs. To provide a seamless experience throughout that customer lifecycle, Kone turned to Salesforce Sales Cloud and Service Cloud.

Kone uses Salesforce Sales Cloud today, and it plans on using Service Cloud in the future to provide better customer service for existing customers; the two apps together are designed to promote proactive customer service.

With Service Cloud, Kone can provide proactive maintenance on machinery that may be experiencing problems. The goal is to be able to detect problems via internet of things (IoT)-connected devices and to dispatch a service technician to resolve the issue before the customer is even aware of the problem, said Danilo Elez, senior vice president of service for the Americas at Kone.

"When a technician is dispatched to a site, IoT devices will be distributing information to the technician," Elez added. So the tech shows up knowing which unit to address, what the predicted issue is, which parts need to be on hand and how to address the problem -- potentially even before the customer realizes it's a problem.

"It will give us greater insight into [not only] the customer, but also every asset in the enterprise," Elez said. "We can use it to make sure machinery is operating to its optimal health."

Ultimately, Elez said, proactive service can happen only when all departments have access to the same information and can view it from their appropriate lens.

"Moving to Service Cloud allows us to consolidate information on scheduling and dispatch, data and asset management, and call center management -- all on one platform," Elez said. "Where is the line between account manager and service technician? Everyone, at a time of need, can provide the customer with answers, transparency and [assurance] that the equipment is operating correctly."

By consolidating systems, Elez said, "We can create a more seamless customer service connection."

Next Steps

Why a customer data integration strategy is key

Three things to consider for your Salesforce data integration project

Insights into enriching the customer experience

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