For the first time ever, Salesforce honored five customers with Customer Trailblazer Awards during this year’s Dreamforce event. Winners were selected based on their corporate vision, collaborative capabilities, transformational efforts and ability to continually learn and adapt to changing business conditions. The awards were given in five different categories, including Growth, Innovation, Equality, Inspiration and Trust.
The winners of the inaugural Salesforce Customer Trailblazer Awards are:
Growth Trailblazer – Lippert Components
Innovation Trailblazer – Eurostar
Trust Trailblazer – ConceiveAbilities
Equality Trailblazer – Metro College Success Program
Inspiration Trailblazer –Interlochen School of the Arts
Nicole Sult, Director of Customer Service for growth award winner Lippert Components, shared with me the role CRM, in particular Salesforce, played in the explosive growth the company has enjoyed over the past two years. Below is an edited transcript of our conversation. To hear the full interview see the video and the embedded SoundCloud player below.
* * * * *
Small Business Trends: Why don’t we go ahead and tell us a little bit about Lippert.
Nicole Sult: Lippert Components is an RV component manufacturer. We sell our components to organizations who build the RVs, and then they sell those RVs to dealers and then onto retail customers. And we get the opportunity to serve all of those different channels. We have a variety of different customers, and they want to be served in a variety of different ways. We have a great ability to reach a lot of people in the recreation industry.
Small Business Trends: You are the growth winner. Talk a little bit about how Salesforce may have helped propel that growth.
Nicole Sult: Part of our business model is that our growth happens through acquisition as well as organic growth. And what we found is that as we acquire new companies, and we brought them into the fold of Lippert Components, our overhead was going at the same rate of growth, and obviously that’s not the way that most companies want to run. And when we launched Salesforce, what we had the opportunity to do was to start to see how much efficiency we were losing, and then where we were gaining it. And so as we went on our journey with Salesforce, what we found, it was in a matter of two years, we doubled our efficiency.
We had an agent in 2014 who could only handle 6000 contacts a year. That is not very much. Today we’re handling over 14,000. And as we begin to add new channels, like chat and live messaging into it, we’re able to just continue to increase that number. So that’s really helped with the growth. It’s really supported our margin as we’ve continued to grow, which is about 60%, year over year.
Crazy numbers to be talking about and an awesome opportunity to really participate with a lot of different people.
Small Business Trends: It’s not just the growth in terms of numbers but it’s the interaction opportunities and the quality of interactions.
Nicole Sult: Absolutely.
Small Business Trends: How has Salesforce helped with that?
Nicole Sult: That is honestly at the root and the core of everything we’ve been able to do with Salesforce. So if I would roll back five years, I was a customer of Lippert Components and it was not a situation where they were somebody that you wanted to call. You called them out of necessity. So that was really the beginning of our journey, was to say, “That’s not the position that we want to be in.” So once we were able to launch Salesforce, we were able to really come out of this data-driven, interview interrogation process, and to really focus on the customer experience.
It’s true, it’s what people want. And Salesforce allowed us to stop thinking about what button do I click here, where do I type, you know what … Just all of those little data entry points, into just having a conversation with a customer while collecting information, while feeding me with information about that customer. So that has been very exciting and fun, where we get to really work on the things that we want to versus the things that we have to.
Small Business Trends: So you had a really great two years so far.
Nicole Sult: Yes.
Small Business Trends: What’s going to happen over the next two years? What’s the focus and how may Salesforce and CRM help with that?
Nicole Sult: We’re branching out into other industries, and we made a service acquisition where it’s a company that services RVs, so that retail, that end user. It’s that person that’s out in the field who is camping with their family, and they have an issue or concern, or they need an upgrade. That is really where we’re going next, as far as using field service to deliver really intelligent service to those individuals as well as being able to build our own apps that power that. Matching with marketing, it is so exciting. IoT, we’re in all of it, so it’s really fun that we get to bring it all together and it all lands in customer service. We get the benefit of all the different things across the company that they’re using and exploring.
Small Business Trends: Where can people learn more about what Lippert is doing?
Nicole Sult: Sure, so Lippert Components has a website – LCI1.com.