Isolation and social distancing during the pandemic made personal connections more important than ever. Savvy businesses took note, and many companies that put customer relationships first during lockdown thrived. Fortunately, their efforts were supported by established and emerging tools that helped them easily customize their interactions.

Companies that used those tools to shift customer relationships online rather than relying on in-person communication, were often accelerating a digital transformation that was already underway, says Eric Bensley, vice president of small and medium-sized business (SMB) product marketing at Salesforce.

Fast-growing companies are digitally adept

Salesforce's customer relationship management (CRM) system makes it possible for companies to manage customer data, automate manual tasks, personalize customer experiences, and deliver data insights. "In order to build human connections, you have to know your customers inside and out," Bensley says. Having all of your data in one place "helps you have better conversations with those customers," he says.

Few companies know that better than Mediafly, which was named to the 2021 Inc. 5000 list of America's fastest-growing companies. A Salesforce customer and partner, Mediafly's solutions use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to help some of the biggest brands in the world get closer to their customers through better content experiences, says Andrew Miehl, Mediafly's chief customer officer. The company empowers revenue teams with the technology they need to turn static content and sales presentations into dynamic experiences based on customer interests, making the experience more personal.

"When clients feel like you truly understand their challenges and are prescribing a solution rather than just pitching a product, you can help them get to a confident purchase decision faster and drive loads more lifetime customer value," Miehl says.

Such innovation requires investment in technology. Salesforce's Small Business Trends report found that growing small and midsize businesses (SMBs) were 65 percent more likely than their stagnant or declining industry peers to accelerate technology investments during the pandemic. Roughly a third of growing companies were more likely to adopt technology to help digitize customer interactions and offer contact with services. "The No. 1 area where growing businesses are investing more is around customer interactions," Bensley says.

Improving customer engagement

When those investments are made the right way, they can transform relationships. For example, Mediafly's tracking capabilities provide almost instant feedback about the information customers need. So, if they're searching for information about a product, the company's AI-powered solutions can serve up the right content for their needs. Another example is Meeting Assistant. Deliver your dynamic presentation, then conduct any post-meeting follow-up by email as you normally would--but the integration allows all of that information to be captured by Salesforce, too, so you have a record in one place.

"At Mediafly, we use Salesforce as a single source of truth for all of our data," Miehl says. "Our entire sales and marketing tech stack is integrated with our Salesforce CRM to break data silos and record all commercial activity in one place. This allows us to report on our performance based on the level of activity recorded for each account and coordinate or correct our sales playbook based on what we see. It also keeps all of our revenue teams, from marketing to sales to customer success, aligned."

"Being a Salesforce customer and partner in the world of digital selling has put us in a unique place to bring outstanding synergy to sales and marketing departments," Miehl says. That's an important step in building trust and connection.