Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd

Salesforce is a best-of-breed product with a vibrant ecosystem and strong IP, and we were confident that it would elevate the customer experience.”

Rajeev Batra | CIO, BCCL


reduction in subscription fulfilment time


Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd serves up newsworthy customer experiences with Salesforce

Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd (BCCL) — also known as the Times Group — powers some of India’s most iconic brands across publishing, television, internet, and radio.

The company’s flagship brand, The Times of India is the world’s largest circulating English newspaper, with a total readership of 17.3 million in India. Another publication, The Economic Times, is the largest business newspaper of India, read by over 4.4 million readers in the country every month.

BCCL’s enduring success over the past 180 years is a testament to its ingenuity, as well as its keen understanding of market needs. Customers want news they can trust — and print newspapers have always been one of the most trustworthy sources of information. Which is why BCCL continues to invest in them.

At the same time, the company is vigorously embracing digital innovation to transform customer experiences — to not just know its readers, but to delight them.

“We want to build trust, and make it easier for customers to access our products and services,” says Rajeev Batra, CIO, BCCL. “To do that, we’ve been enhancing our customer touchpoints, both online and offline. And Salesforce has been integral to those efforts.”

Turning the page with a new CRM platform

In keeping with its commitment to innovation, the company embarked on a digital transformation journey a few years ago. Led by Batra, the objective was to enable frontline employees with robust systems and processes, so they could enhance the customer experience, and boost business revenue.

At the time, with an earlier unsuccessful CRM deployment, teams across customer care, distribution, sales, and branding were managing customer information on different spreadsheets and home-grown apps. This led to siloes of customer data, limiting visibility. And every time a team member left, the lack of a unified view of customer data disrupted processes and affected the customer experience.

BCCL needed a proper CRM framework with well-defined processes aligned to business objectives. The company evaluated a number of CRM solutions, and Salesforce emerged as the top choice.

“Salesforce is a best-of-breed product with a vibrant ecosystem and strong IP, and we were confident that it would elevate the customer experience,” explains Batra. “Moreover, Salesforce’s mature and industry-proven processes minimised our need for customisation.”

Batra achieved the buy-in and full support of all senior leaders across the frontline businesses. Their commitment and business sponsorship of the project set the tone for a successful Salesforce implementation.

Pitching the right products for customer needs

BCCL deployed Sales Cloud to automate and manage the entire ads lifecycle, from lead generation, to sales closure and order management.

Agents capture and consolidate granular data around every customer interaction on Sales Cloud. This single source of truth offers complete visibility into customer profiles and history, helping agents guide customers to the right products, and enhance customer engagement. Also, the automation of sales quotation calculations means that customers can immediately receive a quote, even for complex ad packages.

“Our agents don’t have to return to the office to work out pricing, or file reports,” says Batra. “Everything can be done on the field using Salesforce. This has dramatically boosted sales team productivity.”

Meanwhile, data from branding campaigns flows into the system to help sales teams identify cross-sell and up-sell opportunities. “We’ve been able to increase our market share by almost 2% over a year and a half,” notes Batra. “And Salesforce has played a pivotal role here.”

Reporting better customer experiences with a 360-degree customer view

BCCL also uses Sales Cloud to drive newspaper subscriptions. The solution streamlines the whole process of managing leads, onboarding customers, fulfilling subscriptions, allocating coupons, and delivering newspapers.

The company is also innovating with new digital touchpoints. In addition to buying subscriptions from door-to-door agents, customers can now subscribe through BCCL’s website and self-serve using digital coupons. Data on customer subscriptions and payments is integrated on the Salesforce platform, making the experience for customers a seamless one.

“With Salesforce, our entire subscription ecosystem is managed automatically,” explains Batra. “Payment updates, which used to take three-four days, are now done in minutes. As a result, the turnaround time for subscription fulfilment has halved from two weeks to just one.”

To further enhance the customer experience, BCCL has implemented Service Cloud in its customer care division. Teams now have a 360-degree view of the customer to provide informed support.

“Each time a customer calls in, we don’t have to ask them for their information,” says Batra. “All their details automatically pop up on the system, enabling our agents to respond much faster. Our first call resolution has improved from less than 30% to more than 50%.”

Beyond the newsroom: Enabling the entire ecosystem

BCCL has deployed Salesforce Community Cloud to extend CRM functionalities to its newspaper distribution network. Lakhs of agents who deliver newspapers, and sell subscriptions now use Salesforce to accelerate their sales and distribution lifecycle.

“Earlier, agents had to manage most processes manually, and then visit a central station to upload the data,” explains Batra. “But our Partner Community now allows them to process sales from the field itself, and thus realise revenue rapidly.”

The adoption of the Salesforce solution has been driven strongly by the company’s leadership team. They view reports only in Salesforce, thereby ensuring that all employees use the platform. Rich dashboards and analytics that are integrated with Tableau enable the leadership team to closely monitor sales performance, and drill down to identify opportunities for improvement.

Pressing forward with a digital vision

COVID-19 may have hit the print newspaper industry hard, but BCCL is optimistic about the future.

The company plans to expand its use of Einstein Sentiment Analysis for customer sentiment monitoring, and Radian6 for improved social media analysis.

At a strategic level, BCCL is finding new ways to boost its newspaper circulation, while also minimising business process inefficiencies.

“The pandemic has actually shown us that we can make our organisation much more lean and agile,” says Batra. “As we go down that road, the Salesforce platform will continue to be a valuable asset to our organisation, both during COVID-19 and beyond.”


Keep exploring stories like this one.

Questions? We’ll put you on the right path.

Ask about Salesforce products, pricing, implementation, or anything else — our highly trained reps are standing by, ready to help.