Point of View

Salesforce services providers must address the talent crisis to improve CSAT

April 29, 2020

The demand for Salesforce services continues to pick up pace, placing pressures on providers to ramp up skills to meet growing demand. The HFS Salesforce Services Top 10 Report, 2020, included analysis of 11 providers, which highlighted an average of 40% growth in business last year and the same for the next 12 to 18 months. While an average of 70% of current Salesforce services business is headquartered in North America, business in Europe and Asia Pacific is also ramping up, adding the requirement for resources to be able to support multiple locations. Failure to meet client needs not only leads to low CSAT but also affects future engagements, as clients tell us that talking to client references is a key provider selection criterion. So, what are providers getting wrong?


Not all service providers are created equal in the hyper-competitive salesforce market


While a common problem across all IT services high growth markets, Salesforce services clients are fed up with the unimpressive variety of experience and skills in the provider teams. Clients generally understand the need for junior team members to learn on the job, but they won’t want to pay high rates for them, and they certainly don’t want to compromise on any of the quality of the work delivered. Dissatisfied clients that we spoke with highlighted that the service provider “took time to learn our business” and “some team members didn’t match up.” As a service provider, you need to be flexible and swap out any resource that is not up to scratch, but ideally you don’t want to be in the situation in the first place. As well as junior training, you may have a job rotation scheme to maintain or increase motivation. For example, support staff may benefit from working on projects and vice versa. While this could be a valuable approach to support retention, you must never compromise on the level of skills needed in each engagement. The right skills are not just technical. They include business consultants that can understand client industry and business specifics and, importantly, align the deployment to the desired business goals.


Right-shoring becomes a major differentiator for some clients looking for local talent


All SaaS projects are typically deployed from a central, headquartered site, so clients tend to assume that they will not need any resource in a different location. This is not always true, due to some local integration tweaks or support requirements. Whether at the main site or elsewhere, you must offer the right resources at the right time to clients. This is an ongoing challenge for all service providers, as senior experts are rare and resources are often stretched across client projects. However, careful planning at the beginning of engagements should mitigate any real issues. We’ve heard clients say, “we wish we had more resources onsite” and the service provider had “limited resources in our country,” but the service provider could have planned for both scenarios.


Retention and attraction—attrition is hitting customer satisfaction and tarnishing provider reputations


In a fast-growing, competitive market, attracting, motivating, and retaining good talent is one of the biggest ongoing challenges. Clients have pointed to attrition leading to a drop in CSAT because of a key project or relationship manager leaving the provider—or at least this client’s project. Several clients have told us that “attrition is a problem.” The most damning statement came from one client who admitted that, “where we needed a deeply technical person, we’ve had to seek out more boutique or independent contracting.” If a client needs to seek alternative arrangements because you either do not have that skill or it is not available, you can expect a big drop in CSAT as a result. Assigning the right team to each project at the beginning of the engagement is paramount. But talent attraction and retention should be ongoing activities. Many service providers are running continuous training programs to encourage staff to continue to gain Salesforce certifications. They are also cross-training experts from adjoining CRM practices. University recruiting is also common. Acquisitions of Salesforce partners is also rife as a way to gain both skills and local presence and delivery capability. Examples include Infosys acquiring Simplus in February 2020 and Cognizant buying Code Zero and EI-Technologies in the same month.


The Bottom Line: Service providers must get on top of talent concerns to survive in this market, or risk falling behind more proactive competitors


Simply put, to succeed in this market, providers need good talent and the capacity to assign the right resource mix to each client project. In the long term, this translates to the ability to hold onto the best talent while developing fresh, high-potential talent to support growing demand. In a demanding market, we could rapidly see winner-takes-all dynamics coming into play in some geographies as proactive providers shore up capability and hoover up all local resources.

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