Salesforce announces customer data platform

Martech vendor joins the list of companies in the CDP marketin and announces offering at Connections event

Salesforce has debuted a new customer data platform (CDP) integrated with Customer 360 to build a single view of customer across marketing, commerce, sales and service.

The new platform services, announced at Salesforce Connections, enable companies to unify customer data, manage identity and consent, segment and activate audiences, and optimise engagement with Customer 360’s artificial intelligence (AI)-powered insights.

Salesforce claimed Customer 360 will go beyond traditional CDP capabilities and extend the power of CRM with consumer-scale data management and activation.

As the vendor pointed out, companies have access to more data than ever, but face challenges when trying to unify it. Many are trying to unify data from legacy systems, disconnected channels, multi-channel attribution and elsewhere. They also need to adhere to regulations like GDPR and adapt to new channels like voice and chatbots.

In this reality, delivering personalised and integrated engagement is difficult, and customers don't get the experience they want. According to the latest Salesforce Connected Customer report, 78 per cent of customers expect consistent interactions with a company regardless of the department they’re dealing with, yet only 50 per cent of companies tailor their engagement based on a customer’s past interactions.

"Customers today will not settle for fragmented experiences, and companies recognise creating a single view of the customer is imperative to earning their loyalty," president and chief product officer at Salesforce, Bret Taylor, said. "With Customer 360, we continue to extend our platform in new ways, empowering brands to unify data and personalise customer engagement at scale."

Salesforce senior vice-president of marketing, Eric Stahl, said customers expect continuous engagement, but this is difficult for most brands.

“Complexity is getting in the way. Businesses have different sets of infrastructure, different databases, and it’s really hard to know what is and isn’t working in multi-touch attribution. People want to know how to build single of customer and manage every touch point," he said. "Customer 360 was first step. Now with the introduction of a CDP into CRM, it’s the next generation.”

Additionally, by extending the power of Customer 360 with MuleSoft, companies can connect apps, disparate data sources or devices across cloud and on-premise. The new Customer 360 offers data unification and consent management, aimed at helping brands unify customer data to create richer customer profiles. This includes known and unknown data such as cookies and customer first-party IDs.

Advanced audience segmentation, meanwhile, allows companies to identify specific groups of people to engage with in real-time based on demographics, engagement history, and all other customer data available. Once a brand knows what audience segment they’d like to reach, it can then activate the customer data across marketing, commerce, service and beyond.

Salesforce is also bringing in optimisation based on Einstein insights. For example, customer profiles are continuously updated based on customer behaviours, such as if they click on an ad, browse an ecommerce catalogue, buy a product or open an email.

The Customer 360 platform services will be piloted from September this year.

Salesforce CMO, Stephanie Buscemi, said customers expect continuous experience across all channels.

“Customer relationship management [CRM[ is not just sales anymore. We need to get a single view of customer across every touchpoint," she said in her keynote at Salesforce Connections. "Salesforce Customer 360 is a single platform to connect sales, service, marketing, commerce, and the applications in all those areas, with a single platform underneath it all.

Stephanie Buscemi
Stephanie Buscemi


“We have Einstein’s AI, which serves up 7.6 billion predictions per day, built into CRM."

Buscemi admitted ongoing tension of personalisation versus privacy will continue as these solutions hit the market, adding "customers want both". To help, Salesforce has set up an office of ethical and humane use of technology, headed up by Paula Goldman, to establish a set of guiding principles for this.

"We are all going into unchartered waters, we need to have these discussions upfront," she said.

Buscemi also touched on Salesforce’s recent acquisition of Tableau, noting the data visualisation and reporting platform's importance in the customer experience management chain.

“Tableau and Salesforce are like peanut butter and jelly. We are taking the leader in CRM and bringing it together with the number one analytics company to make it easier to get insights to orchestrate amazing customer journeys,” she said.

SVP digital and customer experience at Salesforce customer, State Farm, Fawad Ahmad, added customer centricity matters to brands today. The brand was one of a number showcasing its efforts to use technology to fuel its customer experience transformation efforts.

“Customers have more power than ever before because of technology, and they have transparency in how we work," he told attendees. "So you have to treat CX like a discipline, you have to understand who you are dealing with, what their personal triggers are, and measure satisfaction with every interaction.

"If you minimise customer effort, anticipate needs, and communicate in a clear way, customer satisfaction goes up.”

Vanessa Mitchell travelled to Connections as a guest of Salesforce. 

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