Outfoxing The Coronavirus: The Salesforce Plan

On Monday evening, I received my first-ever email from Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff. The message, written for customers, lays out the steps the tech giant is taking to cope with the coronavirus outbreak: encouraging the firm’s 50,000 employees to work at home where possible.

This move was made easier by the fact that many staffers already work remotely. Other steps included:

-- Moving toward digital channels, which means postponing in-person events or conducting them online. The digitized World Tour Sydney drew 80,000 customers and the Trailblazing Women Summit attracted 1.2 million., Benioff writes.

-- A focus on customer service tailored to the unusual situation. “While all our businesses are in uncharted territory, Salesforce was built to handle moments like this,” Benioff claims.  

-- Free access to qualified emergency response teams, call centers and care management teams for health systems via the company’s Health Cloud platform. 



-- Access to Tableau, a free data resource hub that provides data from John Hopkins University, the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

-- Free availability of Quip Starter to any customer or nonprofit through Sept. 30 of this year.

Philanthropic donations to support local communities during the crisis. That includes making some technology available.

Now I’m not a Salesforce customer, and it’s not clear how this will affect the company’s bottom line. But Benioff’s email seems like a pretty good blueprint for customer support during the unprecedented crisis. 

Salesforce isn’t the only tech company announcing free services. For another, OnScale will provide free cloud hours to customers in an effort to “be proactive in its response to this rapidly changing situation,” states Dave Freed, CTO of OnScale.

Meanwhile, some pundits and health experts are hearkening back to the Spanish flu epidemic in 1918 (which happened to be occurring in tandem with World War I).

At the height of it, the Direct Mail Advertising Association -- later to evolve into the ANA’s Data & Marketing Association -- held its first convention at Chicago’s Sherman Hotel. 

As legend has it, many guests fought off the flu, which had already “killed more people than all the German guns,”  with spirits. 

Of course, the flu was not the main focus of this event. Of greater concern was a demand by the War Industries Board that direct-mail users curb their paper consumption for the duration 

And the highlight of the conference was the closing speech by E. St. Elmo Lewis on “Beating the Hun with Bigger Business.” 

The war ended a month later. Not so the flu.

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