Q&A: Yvette Ross talks the secrets to unlocking customer-centric growth and connecting the disconnected
We chatted with FinancialForce Product Marketing Director, Yvette Ross, about why customer-centricity has become a top priority for business, the mindset and structure required to achieve it, and how organizations are using Salesforce and FinancialForce to make it happen.
Why has this notion of customer-centricity become a top priority for businesses of all industries?
Ross: Very few would question that the customer experience has never been more critical for business growth. COVID response, the services economy, a digital-first marketplace, a world of unknowns–these are just a few of many factors making a customer-centric mindset a must-have. Competitive advantage, financial growth, and sheer survival depend on it. If customers aren’t sufficiently understood and engaged with consistently across their journey, they will leave – and tell the world why.
What are businesses doing to become more customer-centric?
Ross: The most successful have accelerated their shift to digital business — with the goal of reducing costs and improving online experiences for both their customers and their employees. At FinancialForce, we see it every day in our own business and customer base. Our goal is to deliver a connected business framework where happy, engaged employees create happy, life-long customers.
Can you describe how a connected business works as it relates to the customer journey?
Ross: First, the organization itself needs to be structured around the customer. Creating customer-centricity requires recognition that every function in the business is interdependent. For example, finance needs to understand the customer as deeply as the delivery team if they want to ensure every customer account query creates a great experience. It means synchronizing functional processes, reshaping workflows, and enabling complete collaboration around and with the customer.
How do you make that happen? You break down department silos and get everyone working from a unified, digital system, e.g. connecting the front office (Salesforce CRM) with the back office (FinancialForce). You use advanced tools and technologies that promote collaboration, actionable insights, and a single source of truth from which everyone operates. And you rely on your digital business to automate and connect the processes and handoffs between departments, instead of working in a disconnected way.
How is Salesforce directly helping your customers achieve customer-centric growth?
Ross: Salesforce is a huge factor for our customers’ success. It’s the #1 CRM and cloud platform for a reason. It ultimately empowers companies to manage relationships through the customer lifecycle and delivers a single source of truth from which everyone operates – “Customer 360”. That visibility is only amplified by adding FinancialForce into the equation – expanding those views across sales, services, finance, and delivery. Now every team, function, and individual has all the information they need to improve the customer experience. FinancialForce also automates business processes across the customer journey – which means less time spent on manual, transactional administrative tasks, and more time spent on providing a great customer experience, which ultimately leads to growth.
How exactly do your customers use data to unlock customer-centric growth?
Ross: Imagine everyone in your organization having real-time access to all the customer information that matters most. Every conversation, every transaction, every request, and every documented customer interaction can be accessed from one place. You will see both what sells and what delivers the highest margin. You will better understand why customers turn to you, what their future needs will be, and what your greatest hits are and work smarter together as an organization to deliver the best possible customer outcomes.
How do your customers put this type of insight into practice?
Ross: One of our clients has a large team of consultants, working with an expansive range of clients, and they needed a system to keep track of clients, projects, and consultants. With Salesforce and FinancialForce working together, they were able to automate a significant portion of their project process, from kickoff to resource assignment to progress tracking. A single project manager can now handle 200 projects simultaneously – 10X more than in the past. And with the single source of truth, they are able to better understand business performance and tackle challenges in a strategic way, matching skill sets to projects and meeting different customer needs.
What advice can you give to an organization just starting a digital business journey?
Ross: It can be overwhelming, and there is a lot of uncertainty, but there are now pockets of optimism that were not visible before. FinancialForce keeps an eye on leading, successful strategies in the industry, and we continue to learn from these wins and endow our teams with the right tools.
Equipping everyone with the tools to automate and speed up key stages, from powerful ERP automation tools that help to secure profitable opportunities faster, through to Professional Services Automation platforms to power great service delivery. A connected approach makes it possible for the whole team to wow your customers from the very first quote through to final delivery.
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