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From the author of Adding Value to CRM Software

Adding Value to CRM Software

So far, I've mentioned examples of brands that have reached beyond their specific products or services (diapers, feminine hygiene products, banking services) to find a related general topic of interest to their customers (motherhood, "girl talk," finance). However, for software and other types of products that require significant user training or support, the product itself may be enough of a basis for a successful community.

The point is to add real value. Buyers of diapers don't need a detailed discussion of the product—you learn how to change a baby's diaper, and then you're pretty much set to go. Users of SalesForce customer relationship management (CRM) software, on the other hand, benefit from the advice of other users as they customize the product and use it to manage their company's sales and marketing activities.

Among other offerings, the SalesForce community includes an "Answers" area where users can post and respond to questions about SalesForce features and best practices, an area for suggesting product improvements, and geographically based user groups that hold offline meetings as well as online discussions. SalesForce also offers a separate community for developers with technical discussion boards and tools. These professional users aren't looking for passion or entertainment; they want a useful community that helps them to do their jobs.

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