Salesnet Attends to Its Own Customer Relationships

As providers of tools that enable customer centricity, CRM vendors are expected to be stellar providers of service themselves. Thus with a pair of recent announcements, on-demand CRM vendor Salesnet plans to put its money where its marketing is. The company has announced that it has created a new C-level position, chief customer officer, to focus exclusively on the needs of its clients. Anthony Nelson, formerly a consultant at Scient and a global Web strategist at software vendor PTC, will fill the role. As a signal of the importance the company has placed on the position, Nelson reports directly to Salesnet CEO Mike Doyle. Laurie McCabe, vice president of SMB business solutions for consultancy AMI-Partners, says the move is more than symbolic. Salesnet, she says, has "always been pretty customer-centric, but they're growing, so now they can afford to formalize it a bit more." Nelson tells CRM magazine that for him, the new role requires very little change in approach. "For much of my career I've been focused on customer service," he says, citing his time as a consultant. "When you're being billed out at $400 an hour, customer service is something you better understand." Among Nelson's immediate goals is to institute heightened loyalty management. As part of that goal, Salesnet also announced the release of a new online training site called mySalesnet, which Nelson says was the first project he picked up when he came on board. The new site will collate all the relevant tools and training material that Salesnet users may need. "MySalesnet is intended to become a user community for our user base," Nelson says. "We've sort of seeded the ground, now we need to get customer interaction. For a community to be successful, it has to be built from the ground up." Once enough customers are using the application "they can help each other," he says. Nelson points out one component of mySalesnet as particularly critical to customer satisfaction: a nonproduction server for development called Sandbox. "One of the traditional disadvantages of the hosted space is that everything works in real time. Developers [have always been] working in a live environment," he says. Sandbox will give them a place "where they can work with a snapshot of their data loaded on the server and test new APIs, applications, and processes--and then flip a switch to make those processes live." McCabe calls mySalesnet a good idea, and finds Sandbox especially compelling: "Before you roll something out, you do want to be able to play with it and test it. In this whole software-as-a-service world, that's been one of the issues. With three or four upgrades a year, it's a good idea to test them out before you unleash them with whatever configurations you've added." Having an executive whose only purpose is to attend to customers' needs is what some in the CRM industry would expect from any company that claims to be customer-centric. In the end, McCabe asks rhetorically, "Don't you wish every company we bought anything from would do this?" Related articles: Salesnet Expands its ASP Model and Gets a Cash Infusion Salesnet Turns to the Channel to Capture the Midmarket
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