Tire manufacturer Michelin has undergone a huge digital transformation powered by Salesforce, to help better serve its customers, keep staff happy, and enable it to operate as a technology company rather than a mobility business.
The program, dubbed ENGAGE, uses Sales Cloud, Service Cloud and Community Cloud to give Michelin staff one platform to access all customer data and a central portal to work with customers.
Eric Chaniot, Chief Digital Officer at Michelin, said the firm realized a few years ago that if it wanted to continue to be a mobility business, it had to become an expert at digital mobility:
We have to become a technology company. We are going to be a technology company with a specific domain, the mobility, the tires. But if we do not become a technology company, one of our competitors will.
The firm’s transformation project encompassed three main areas: the opportunity to engage with the “seven billion people market”; the ability to create and codesign services with customers rather than just for the business; and helping employees get to customers more quickly by providing them with digital services:
We wanted to build an ecosystem of various digital platforms but at the center of that is the CRM. It allows us to say internally and externally that we put you, our customer, at the center of everything that we are doing.
To ensure this goal was met, Michelin decided to get rid of its legacy Siebel CRM system, and codesigned the new Salesforce systems with its sales reps and customers like tire dealers and fleets, rather than just handing the project over to the technology team. Chaniot said:
In some countries, we have a young sales force, they do everything on mobile. We always keep that in mind. That’s why we did the co-design with customers and our sales people. Because we had them from the beginning, we have an adoption rate that’s a bit more than 90%.
Michelin embarked on its transformation project in January 2016. The firm deployed the first version of the Salesforce platform last October, six months after signing the contract. Michelin, which operates in 170 countries and has 111,700 employees, has launched the Salesforce platform in three regions – the US, Canada and Mexico. It is currently rolling out across Europe and Asia, followed later this year by Latin America.
Ahead of signing the deal with Salesforce, Michelin did a lot of research about the best technology platform to go for.
The first step was looking at firms in industries like retail, banking and travel, which Chaniot said are more advanced than the transport industry on digital, and started to see that the ones who had breakthrough solutions were using Salesforce. The firm also looked at market share data and discovered that among French multinationals, a large percentage were using Salesforce:
The last part in the decision was that some of our more traditional employees, when we were talking about all the vendors, they were coming in the meeting room and saying one vendor is making us uncomfortable and this vendor is Salesforce. They were saying that all the other vendors know exactly what to tell us, they know exactly the answer we are looking for, they are reassuring, we don’t feel at risk with them. But not Salesforce, it is always pushing us to be focused on the customers. That was one of the triggers. We feel that Salesforce push the boundaries, they want us to do much more than we ever think about sometimes.
Chaniot said Salesforce’s ethos of giving back to the community and working to improve society was also a good fit for Michelin’s work around sustainability:
The fleets of trucks on average change their tires 15% too early. We are working on digital technology that tells our customers, don’t change the tires now, you are going to change them later. It’s almost like we shoot ourselves in the foot, it’s almost like we’re saying, we don’t want to sell you tires now. We understand that. We have a mission.We align in terms of values. We’re not pushing exactly the same thing that Salesforce is pushing, but we understand them.
Michelin is happy with the Salesforce deployment so far. The sales force had to go to several systems before to get the required customer information and now they can do it in one place on their mobile. Chaniot added:
We’ve reached our business objectives. Customers are thrilled and employees are so happy. What else can you ask?
The next step is looking at how Salesforce’s Einstein artificial intelligence (AI) platform can combine with Michelin’s connected tires for more automation. Chaniot said:
We really believe in augmented intelligence. If AI is able to do easily some of the work humans are doing today, then so be it. There are lots of areas where AI will be able to contribute, but at the same time humans will still have an important role to play. Internally we’re doing some proof of concept, but we do not talk about AI, we do not talk about Einstein. We’re focused on the benefits that we can give. After that, when people can see the benefits, we open Pandora’s box and say it’s AI that can make your life easier.
Chaniot is particularly excited about the ability to better support new sales people joining Michelin, using AI to tell them where their best opportunities are; and the opportunity to improve the servicing side, providing AI with images of tires and getting it to visualize any issues.
Despite concerns around AI and its impact on job losses, Michelin has no plans to reduce headcount through new technology. Chaniot explained:
We really put the people at the heart of the digital transformation. How can we use technology to make their lives easier. We started to do a pilot with a digital watch. Before operators had to check a lot of screens and papers, now they have their watch and they know exactly what they should do. Two things happened at the human level – we reduced their stress drastically as now they know exactly what they have to do and when they have to do it; the second thing is that when you are an operator on the manufacturing side, they are so proud in using digital technology because they feel that their job is better. And then the side effect for us is that the productivity increases.
Image credit - Michelin
Disclosure - At time of writing, Salesforce is a premier partner of diginomica.