Selling to a vastly larger customer base exposed the limits of Encyclopaedia Britannica’s homegrown CRM system. The software didn’t integrate with the company’s other back-office systems, and it required considerable maintenance. “It was a pain in the butt,” Ross recalled. “It was critical to get into the cloud and get the systems talking to each other.” Encyclopaedia Britannica adopted Salesforce in 2012, beginning with Sales Cloud to address its critical CRM needs, and has since added Service Cloud, Chatter, Salesforce Platform, and Pardot across in-office and remote teams. Salesforce helped get sales and service reps sharing information, which is vital in a business built on relationships.
Encyclopaedia Britannica sales reps stay with customers throughout their lifecycles, and are often the ones users come to first with product questions. Because Sales Cloud and Service Cloud are integrated on one platform, it’s easy to share these inquiries across the company, so sales reps can quickly find answers for their customers. Ross estimated that without Salesforce, he’d probably need three full-time support staffers instead of the one-person department currently employed. “Do we have enough human customer support? Yes, because of Service Cloud,” he said. A big benefit of going all-digital is that Encyclopaedia Britannica now gains deeper insight into how customers use its products. “Online products let us be more intimate with customers. We communicate more frequently and respond to them better,” Ross said. From there, Service Cloud and Chatter make it easy to log customer feedback in real time and integrate it into the product development process. “We have products that have literally changed immediately because of things customers have suggested,” he said. “That really helps with customer loyalty.” As evidence, Director of Marketing and Sales Support Rick Booms cites Encyclopaedia Britannica’s strong social media sentiment scores and subscription renewal rates that top 95%. To keep that rate climbing, the company adopted Pardot in mid-2015 to help with onboarding and renewals. Ross said his teams will also use Pardot to get away from “batch and blast” emails, in favor of buyer’s journeys that help them better understand what their customers are really interested in.
Overall, profit margins have increased 8% since Salesforce adoption. Year-over-year profits in Ross’ group grew twice as fast, to 17% over the same time period. “I guarantee we couldn’t have done that without Salesforce,” he said. The group also started using Platform to further streamline how they work, beginning with importing accounting and invoicing data from legacy systems into Salesforce. Company leadership knows that despite early success as a technology company, their work is far from over. In an age where virtually unlimited free information is just a swipe and tap away, Ross sees value in having a trusted brand vet your information for you. “We’d love for everyone to be using Britannica again as the trusted source for information,” he said. “A ton of people still come to us based on trust — they know our information is credible.” In an age of near-unlimited access to information, you can’t put a price on having a source you can trust every time.