Modern Star

There’s so much innovation around the platform. It supports our passion for quality and service, and helps us stay ahead of the curve.”

Janet Cutler, General Manager of Salesforce Innovation

2 Hours

the time saved daily by sales reps on planning and reporting


Modern Star create brighter future for children with Salesforce

As a leading supplier of education resources and toys, Modern Star is passionate about learning and creativity. Its educational resource products are used by more than 40,000 childhood centres and schools, supporting the development of children across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. Modern Star’s toy division, which sells into independent toy stores and large retailers, extends its reach even further.

Now more than sixty years old, Modern Star continues to grow and is using Salesforce to manage the complexities of operating 16 companies under the one umbrella. “Everything we do is linked to a love of learning and increasingly connected with Salesforce. It gives us visibility into our customers and partners, and helps us stay closer to our sales reps in the field,” said Janet Cutler, General Manager of Salesforce Innovation at Modern Star.

Salesforce has also helped Modern Star to streamline sales and service, and respond quickly to the needs of teachers and students in relation to COVID-19.

Breaking from the past

While Modern Star benefits from its rich heritage, it has left some aspects of the past behind, including its reliance on paper. Before Salesforce, the company had thirty sales reps out in the field tracking activities with paper and pen. Head office had no visibility into sales activities or the customer beyond their previous transactions. When a rep left, their handover was a stack of papers with customer names and addresses.

“Our reps are regionally based and always on the road; we saw some of them just once a year at our sales conference,” said Cutler. “We had no visibility into our customer relationships or what was happening day-to-day.”

Management needed this insight to keep growing and evolving the company, and made the decision to use Salesforce. This was ten years ago and Cutler was looking to re-enter the workforce after a break to raise her young children. “I called my manager at Modern Star to see if he had a copy of my resume and ended up coming back to manage the Salesforce implementation,” said Cutler.

Winning over the sales team

While Cutler was new to using Salesforce, she knew that to make it work she needed to gain buy-in from the sales team. Some had been with the company for nearly thirty years and were reluctant to change.

So as Cutler led the rollout of Sales Cloud, she focused on making things easy for sales and enabling them to see the value of managing all of their activities in the one place. 

“It was a struggle at the beginning, but now everyone tells me that they can’t do their job without Salesforce. The sales team use it to do all of their reporting and planning, and it saves them up to two hours a day — that’s time they can be spending with customers or back at home with family,” said Cutler.

Much of the time savings have come from the use of Salesforce Maps. It helps reps to better plan and optimise their routes, often enabling them to fit in an extra one or two customer visits per day.

Transforming the customer experience

Modern Star has steadily increased its use of Salesforce to better connect with customers across sales, service and marketing. Service Cloud powers its Sydney-based call centre and enables agents to provide personal support to customers across each of Modern Star’s companies. Agents can quickly identify each caller and continue the conversation right from where their last interaction left off. Interactions can then be logged in Salesforce, augmenting the single customer view.

Modern Star has more recently started to leverage Service Cloud for live chat and is considering the future use of Einstein Bots. “Our customers increasingly want to engage with us online and by leveraging technology like bots there’s a significant opportunity for us to reduce phone calls and increase efficiency,” said Cutler. 

The company is also using Pardot to engage with contacts, and manage tailored welcome journeys for each of its audiences. These include schools and teachers, early childhood centres, and retailers, all of whom would be interested in different offerings from Modern Star. “Pardot has really changed how we think about data and segmenting our lists, and we’ve been able to reduce our unsubscribe rate by running more targeted and relevant campaigns. By using the one platform to manage our contacts and emails, we can also build and send campaigns out faster,” said Cutler.

Meeting new learning needs arising from COVID-19

All of these efficiencies together with recent acquisitions in the online learning space have helped position Modern Star to support teachers and students in response to COVID-19. One of the first things it did was transition all of its employees to work from home. This was made easier by the fact that service reps could take home their computers and continue using Service Cloud to support customers remotely. 

Around the same time, Modern Star launched an offer enabling schools and students to access its Wushka online readers, free for a limited time. The response was overwhelming with 5,000 enquiries in the first three weeks alone. At first, Modern Star was responding to these individually and clearing just one or two hundred cases a day. Then, someone came up with the idea to use Salesforce and send an automated response instead. The response contains a licensing agreement which people can sign to start accessing the readers straight away. This has helped to quickly clear thousands of cases and allowed Modern Star to focus on following up with those who need help. As a result of this offer, the company has also quadrupled the number of Wushka customers.

“Now teachers are able to get what they need straight away and we have dashboards and reports in Salesforce to track what is happening with the campaign and the business more broadly,” said Cutler. 

One thing that Cutler has done to support her colleagues at this time is promote modules on Trailhead and encourage competition to earn badges. This has given teams the opportunity to upskill and focus on topics like wellbeing. It also complements the learning they do on Trailhead as new starters.

Scaling smarter

Modern Star has nearly doubled its annual revenue since the start of its Salesforce journey, and continues to grow at an accelerated pace. Cutler has been kept busy leveraging Salesforce to support this growth. The company now uses Salesforce to manage everything from sales and service to product design and supplier reviews.

Future priorities include increasing the use of Einstein Analytics to understand customer behaviour and identify next best actions for sales and service. Cutler also plans to increase collaboration using Quip. She’s already using Quip to collaborate with others in head office and manage requests for new functionality enabled by Salesforce. 

In addition to all this, Cutler is continuing to look at what’s next and is excited by emerging capabilities like Service Cloud Voice.

“There’s so much innovation around the platform and, as a Salesforce admin, it's important for me to be proactive and know what’s coming next,” said Cutler. “It supports our passion for quality and service, and helps us stay ahead of the curve.”


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