How Relationship Design Works

By Salesforce

People and companies all over the world have sacrificed their routines, comfort, and the old way of doing things in order to protect each other’s health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Small business owners choose cooperation over competition to survive through hard times. Students have mobilized support for older adults experiencing social isolation during quarantine. Families, friends, and neighbors are finding creative ways to show up for each other – from a safe social distance. And those are just three, out of hundreds of examples.

Through the multitude of issues 2020 has thrust to the forefront, it’s clear companies need to show up for their people on a deeper level. Salesforce has developed a discipline to connect the increasingly important relationship between a company and its communities with business value. We call it Relationship Design. Here’s how it works.

But first, examples of companies stepping up:

The chaos and disruption of societal norms forced many companies to shift their focus from in-person customer relationships to virtual ones. Case in point, CarMax, the largest used car company in America, heard its customers were uncomfortable with car dealerships due to the pandemic. The company expedited the development of its CarMax app and online selling capabilities, enabling much of the car shopping process to happen virtually.  

And as people head back to physical office spaces, employers must instill trust that workforce health and safety is a top priority. Companies collaborate with public health departments to contain COVID-19 outbreaks across cubicles and communities, forging unprecedented relationships between the private and public sector. Many employers are also experiencing overdue pressure to respond to collective concerns about racial injustice. Many are standing up for their values and finding ways to work with their employees and customers to create a positive path forward.

This dynamic landscape of customer, employee, and community relationships requires proactive listening and response. To remain successful, business operations must evolve, as do the products and services businesses bring into the world.

We’re here to help:

Last year we introduced the Relationship Design approach for the first time, and we continue to develop the practice in response to the roller coaster of 2020.

This set of tools and processes is meant to empower companies to meet the needs of changing relationships. Relationship Design is a creative approach to driving business and social value, focused on building relationships with customers, employees, and community. It’s a practice anyone —  in any industry or discipline — can adopt.

This discipline asks us to look beyond a customer’s superficial needs to consider the deeper human desires that drive engagement with the product or service and how those drivers might encourage ongoing engagement with a brand.

Above all, Relationship Design enables us to make decisions that build trust by prioritizing human connection. It provides resources, such as Salesforce’s ethical AI framework, to examine the ripple effects of those decisions so we can understand the long-term impact on customers and communities.

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