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Salesforce upgrade takes a page from Apple's playbook

Salesforce newest software update, designed to streamline operations, took a page right out of Apple’s playbook.

The world’s largest customer relationship management platform announced upgrades to its Financial Services Cloud, a segment of the business that caters to more than 400 wealth managers, retail banks and insurance companies.

The updated platform pulls all accessible client information into a single dashboard, like held-away accounts and relationship records, and adds new features like the ability for clients to create customized appointments, says Rohit Mahna, senior vice president of Financial Services at Salesforce.

“We’re viewing it as the new industry chassis,” Mahna says. “How do firms want to look at their book of business? How do they want to look at households?” The firm looked to drive production by making products easier for clients to use and by increasing scalability, he says.

One path to simplicity was to streamline the onboarding process, Mahna says. Advisors can set up and share a list of tasks necessary to sign on a new client and share that list with other colleagues and even clients. Called Action Plan, the list flags tasks that need additional oversight — anything from regulatory or internal compliance scrutiny to client signatures.

Salesforce logo conference 2011 Bloomberg News
A DreamForce attendee listens to Marc Benioff, chairman and chief executive officer of SalesForce.com, as he delivers the keynote speech during DreamForce 2011 in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Wednesday, Aug 31, 2011. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg *** Local Caption *** Marc Benioff

"Being able to coordinate tasks across different people and departments makes sure nothing falls through the cracks,” says Alyson Clarke, senior analyst for Forrester. “Firms are so complex these days that there is almost no way for one person to do everything from start to finish.”

The tasks are customizable and can be accessed by clients through the Salesforce community app to help push the project to completion, he says. “Taking away some of the pain of what advisors are doing and making sure they’re not wrangling with systems is very important,” Clarke says.

The new update will go live in October, according to a firm spokesman.

Another new feature is a scheduling widget that came right out of the Apple Store, according to the firm. The Lightning Scheduler mimics the process iPhone owners use to set up an appointment with technicians. Advisors can use the widget to suggest times and locations for a meeting and let the clients choose the most convenient.

CRM-tech-survey-IAG

CRM providers shouldn’t only be thinking about the client experience, Clarke says, but ease of use for advisors. “They need to be easy to use for the advisor as well, and far too many firms are using outdated solutions or ones they developed in house that are far too difficult to learn.”

The proper software deepens the relationship, Clarke says, but outdated technology could cause disconnects. “The reason is that the flow of the computer system doesn’t match the flow of the relationship,” Clarke says. “Relationship managers know the right way to deal with that customer and having software that’s easy to use and to learn and creates an appetite for use, ultimately drives conversations.”

As part of the update, the firm also announced partnerships with well-known industry names — like eMoney and Jemstep Advisor Pro — that provide easier reporting for clients and advisors alike, according to the firm. The platform also integrated lending and insurance reporting products, as well.

Bots are another new addition, however, they’re only available to retail banking clients. The bots automatically answer client questions or direct them to the appropriate people, but could soon come to wealth management clients as well, Mahna says. “You’ll see us invest and build out that capability for advisors as well,”Mahna says. “For RIAs, these bots could be a game changer.”

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