On first joining Baseline I was tasked with creating a centralized nerve system for 360 degree CRM and replace multiple internal systems and processes. It was the old adage that you could walk around the office and ask people about background information into a current or perspective customer and receive a different answer from each. We leveraged Salesforce due to it's flexibility to migrate legacy customer data, normalize information, add a visual layer to dashboard reporting, and control user input behavior and workflow.
Leads came into a centralized sales inbox where it was a free for all. Constantly were there questions into who should own what lead based on previous account ownership or opportunity size. Here we applied smart routing logic and web to lead capture forms on our contact pages to route leads to the proper account executives or sales leads based on ownership, location, size of company etc. Not only did this quell any potential internal issues but employed an immediate communication layer for any inbound leads based on their individual unique requests that was not previously possible with a simple joint inbox. Leads received a customized email from our team within minutes of their request to better serve their needs and minimize them looking elsewhere for a solution.
Account management such as inbound leads was a grey area with account ownership information either stored on excel spreadsheets or via a legacy internal goldmine database. Here we locked down ownership for the sales team so that each member of the team had clear visibility into their ownership to focus on customer nurturing and automated touch points to drive retention.
Baseline also didn't at the time have any capability of forecasting quarterly sales targets based on who was currently into the conversion funnel. Here we architected a new opportunity management flow to accurately predict sales close probability based on user trial behavior and other key performance indicators that were fine tuned over time instead of a shot in the dark.
Contracts and Invoicing
The largest data migration project by far was the centralization and normalization of current contracts. Being that Baseline had gone through 3 mergers and acquisitions in 10 years there was no standard contract template, pricing model, or central trusted repository for contract pricing details or key invoice or roll dates. Once all contracts were normalized and ingested we had full reporting of customers at risk due to low usage and upcoming roll dates, users who had unused provisioned licenses, etc. All of these key findings pushed ongoing user retention and to make sure that customers were getting the value they were paying for.
Appended to these contracts we integrated two phases of invoice management that was automatically triggered by our migrated and standardized contracts. We leveraged an integration from Salesforce to Great Plains while the company was under the NYTimes umbrella which was then replaced with the Zuora contract and invoicing engine on our sale to Hollywood Media. With both integrations were now able to create contract paperwork or invoice copies with a single click, this time savings was realized in that historically all contracts needed legal approval which was at least a 5-7 day turnaround and with no invoice generation workflow. With the standardized structure that turnaround time was now under a minute to close clients faster and provide them with accurate billing information.
Another major CRM win was an updated client services workflow and centralized case management system. This entitlement allowed automated case routing to our client services or editorial team to fulfill any update requests to the core database, site bugs, invoice questions, etc.
Extending to Client Facing Platforms
Below are a few of the key examples of leveraging our internal CRM with client facing applications to optimize internal workflow
The mass majority of inbound customer service requests came via the Studio System site in the form of record update requests. These came into a centralized email box such as leads had and the client services team was forced to spend hours a day analyzing each of the requests and funneling them to the respective editorial team for update. As this was a value proposition and service as part of each users license agreement the turnaround time was critical here for customer engagement and as well was our closest ongoing touchpoint with our customers.
The solution here was to create a custom case integration from the site into Salesforce in which we normalized and passed through all update information and routed directly to the correct editorial team based on types of records that were being updated and the data points within as we had dedicated resources covering Film, Television, Person, and company record updates and growth. Those editorial members could then make updates to the system and automatically notify requestors that their updates had been made.
This bypass of the client service team where they were playing a game of telephone gave them back 50% of their time to which they could dedicate to customer development, webinars, and in person demos to strengthen the brand. This realized a huge win and time saving basically freeing up an entire operating group to expand their roles.
Billing and Invoicing
Contract and invoice management was traditionally done manually at Baseline via excel tracking and merged invoices that were sent manually via email by our Controller. As mentioned we were able to at first cut change the traditional 5-7 day contract turnaround to under a matter of minutes. To take this a step further we built a self service portal to allow users to manage payment and invoices directly within their studio system account. This was powered with a provisioned user model from our internal user management tool blended with Salesforce real time data via API development. This also freed up additional customer service time while not needing to deal with invoice pull requests as each user had full access to that data.
An even larger win with this integration was the ability to validate current account standing as there had always been a disjoin between users who have ongoing access to the application even though they have past due invoices. This system automatically validated overdue balances and locked down system access until users brought their account up to good standing and no longer needed to chase down credit card information for users.
Many additional features and realized operational value came out of this centralization and integration of customer data to the point that I was featured at Salesforce's Dreamforce conference for three years running as a case study in success.