Santa Claus has been a Trailblazer for more than a millennium - drone delivery? That's nothing - he's been dropping personalised gifts down families' chimneys for centuries.  He and his factory elves have managed (most years) to anticipate each Christmas' “must have” toy and ramp production to match, and the North Pole team have been tracking the wishes of billions of individual children long before databases were invented. 

In fact, it's entirely possible that Santa Claus invented CRM! The culture Santa has fostered at the North Pole is clearly customer obsessed.

It occurred to us last year to look at whether Salesforce could help Santa enhance his retail operation and we found a lot of areas where we could take the North Pole from good to great. Another year's gone by, and it seemed only right to check-in and see whether any of Salesforce's recent developments could make those North Pole Trailblazers even more successful.

Last year we discussed how customer experience is the new driver for competitiveness, and even a brand as loved as the North Pole needs to use technology to enhance every interaction and ensure each touchpoint is positive, and personalised, for every customer.

What's changed from last year? Well if anything those stakes are even higher - for a starter, 79% of shoppers now expect retailers to send them personalised offers. Sounds like a big job for the elves...

With that in mind, here is how Salesforce's latest solutions could add a little extra magic to the North Pole's already impressive customer focus.


They say a stranger is just a friend you haven't met yet

Once upon a time, Santa needed to wait until children wrote to him to know their wishes. When that first letter came in, it would go into the North Pole's CRM system and the elves would be able to keep a single record of each child's requests and Santa interactions over the years.

But Santa needs to move with the times. These days, assuming kids are like other consumers, they have 80% of their research done online before they even write a letter and ask for the latest toy. He needs to understand his potential customers before they come to him, and ideally start targeting relevant messages when they are still weighing up Hotwheels or GI Joe.  

Santa can use Salesforce DMP to track all that anonymous browsing activity on his web properties and build individual profiles, even augmenting it with 3rd party data. So if there really is a "naughty-or-nice" list out there, the North Pole could push advertising for a single lump of coal in the banner ads for any visitors who are on the naughty list, hint hint....

What's more, when the boys and girls do get in touch with Santa, the North Pole's DMP will automatically link their previous anonymous profile to the information like name and address, so even a first-time Santa letter “lead” will have a rich set of browsing history attached, allowing Santa to know what the child really wants this year. 

Maybe that's how it's really done, and all these years you thought it was your parents.....



Making Santa Marketing Even Smarter

Some people think Santa's marketing starts in early December (or late October if some retailers would be believed) but actually the elves in the marketing department are busy all-year long, creating tailored marketing journeys for every boy and girl. They use Marketing Cloud to make sure messages keep Santa and that special toy top of mind, no matter the channel.

Santa knows, from centuries of experience as a premium toy retailer, that in a crowded market, you can cut through the competitors' noise by making sure each message is timely, personalised, and relevant, and with Einstein Segmentation the elves down in Marketing are able to create highly specific segments to target messages and journeys to help with that.

In fact, Einstein Segmentation suggests the segments to the elves, leaving them free to work on the stuff they love doing more than anything - working out how much glitter and wrapping should go on each message. 


Year-round festive cheer with Commerce Cloud

The traditionalists will look for a Santa-delivered present under the tree on Christmas eve, but others can't wait. They might want a gift for a birthday surprise, or to simply go back and buy more of their favourite product. Put simply, the North Pole needs to be available all year-round.

Santa had been advised to jump into ecommerce a number of years ago but he was worried none of the solutions available matched his vision for customer experience, but with Commerce Cloud, he can now deploy a cloud-based commerce platform that puts his customers at the heart of the action.

Naturally, Commerce Cloud is integrated with the rest of the North Pole's CRM, so click-through's from Marketing Cloud messages will bring the parents of boys and girls right to their favourite toy, whether on a browser or a mobile. 

Don't know what you or your loved ones want?  No problem, Einstein Recommendations will suggest the best product for you - Christmas morning saved!


Now let's take a look at the big product news from this year's Dreamforce, and how the North Pole will be blazing trails for years to come...

MyTrailhead for the elves

Have you ever stopped to think about the amount of stuff an elf needs to know:

  • How to assemble toys
  • How to onboard a shopping mall Santa
  • What's the recipe for the perfect mince pie?
  • Does Santa deliver ponies?
  • The latest 'elf and safety regulations

Where do they learn all this?  Well, myTrailhead allows Santa and his talent development elves to create customised learning paths to cover every aspect of the North Pole's operations. Fun tests make sure the elves have taken all that training in, and the elves love it when things are fun.

MyTrailhead will help Santa make sure that every elf's knowledge is up to date with the latest developments in high volume toy creation, distribution, and customer service - and no elf gets left on the shelf.


MyEinstein - Santa's crystal ball

Elves are master toy builders. Data science, however, is not one of their strong points. So when Santa started to look for ways to use Artificial Intelligence to bring further smarts to the North Pole, he figured it was a long-shot. MyEinstein will allow his trailblazing admin elves to build prediction fields with just clicks. All the AI goodness happens under the hood to surface predictions within Santa's CRM applications. So now the elves can predict:

  • Which letters/leads will need more attention
  • Which toys are likely to be in demand this year
  • Whether a boy or girl will be naughty or nice

Even better, now that Salesforce and IBM have announced integration between Einstein and Watson, those clever elves can use Watson's weather services to predict inclement weather on Christmas Eve, allowing Santa to plan his route to avoid the worst bits.


MyLightning for a customised North Pole UI

Branding is key for the North Pole, and Santa likes that every aspect of the environment reinforces it, he even retained a branding agency a number of years ago to “freshen things up”. Now with myLightning, Salesforce can use the colours, themes, and logos from the North Pole's corporate brand guidelines within their CRM user interface. The elves don't even have to know they are using Salesforce.

MyLightning also includes some exciting developments to make the elves even more productive - and with 1.9 billion letters to process in 3 1/2 weeks, they need all the help they can get. Dynamic Page Layouts will add or remove components from the screen as needed. So for instance, a special entry instructions section would only be visible for boys and girls who don't have a chimney - this cuts down on clutter and stops the elves becoming distracted, it's so easy to distract them. 


MySalesforce for that Santa experience everywhere

Of course, so much of Santa's time, and that of his helpers is away from the North Pole. Santa needs to be productive and connected at all times, not just when he's behind the desk. With mySalesforce, his admin elves will be able to create amazing mobile apps that will put the Customer Success Platform in his hand wherever he is.

Whether it's an app to manage his deliveries, or quick actions to record a present wish, or using Einstein Vision image recognition to identify unusual snacks, apps can be quickly rolled out and styled to those North Pole brand guidelines with clicks (not code), making those elves mobile app development gurus.


MyIOT - Everything's connected at Christmas

These days everything is connected, the toys are connected, the North Pole factory floor is connected, the sleigh is connected. What can the elves do with all that data and the festive “events” that they create?  With myIOT they can be integrated directly into the Customer Success Platform and insight and action orchestrated automatically, and virtually all done with clicks by an elf Trailblazer.

  • Sleigh sensors indicate it's running low on fairy dust?  Automatically dispatch an elf refuelling team to meet Santa in the field, keeping the sleigh flying and saving the tight Christmas Eve delivery schedule
  • A sensor picks up a bearing is wearing in the teddy bear machine (yes, I did just write that), automatically re-order the spare part so production lines are not disrupted.
  • Toy breaks by boxing day? A case could be automatically created for the child, and a link to an 'elf service portal (sorry!) emailed to the parents.


Putting the “aaS”, in Christm-aas

The scale and ambition of Santa's retail operation is mind boggling. Santa is not content to rest on his laurels though, he's looking to grow the business and make sure the North Pole is not disrupted by some digital upstarts. To do that, he's embedding the Customer Success Platform in every aspect of his operations.  

But that's not all - as we've just seen, one year on from our first visit to the North Pole, Salesforce continues to innovate to bring new features and capabilities which will allow Santa, and his trailblazing elves, to make the Christmas experience even better for every boy and girl around the world. I wonder what's on his wish-list for next year... I'm sure Einstein could tell me. 


Download the Connected Shoppers Report to see what consumers had to say about shopping in 2017, and which trends will be driving success in 2018.