Salesforce does quick damage control

SAN FRANCISCO: The efforts of Salesforce.com to take customers and partners down the path to enlightenment hit a roadblock recently.

SAN FRANCISCO: The efforts of Salesforce.com to take customers and partners down the path to enlightenment hit a roadblock recently.

The company, which delivers CRM services over the internet, is involved with The Tibet House and other Himalayan organizations. The company recently purchased 500 tickets to a San Francisco appearance by the Dalai Lama, and gave tickets to partners, customers, and the media. The American Himalayan Foundation sponsored the Dalai Lama's appearance.

Salesforce.com invited its guests with a poster showing an image of the Dalai Lama and the slogan, "There is no software on the path to enlightenment." However, the poster offended the foundation.

In a quick bout of damage control, the company issued an apology and returned the 500 tickets while allowing the foundation to keep the $75,000 in ticket fees. It also plans to make an additional $25,000 donation.

"There was never any argument or finger-pointing," said Caryn Marooney, partner at OutCast Communications, the tech company's PR agency. "There wasn't any fighting about who made a mistake, or whether they made a mistake. The company admitted it made a mistake, and worked quickly to remedy the situation. It was a refreshingly quick process."

Rectifying and moving past the situation as quickly as possible was the best and only strategy, said Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff, who serves on The Tibet House's board of trustees. "This wasn't a situation worth squabbling over," he added. "We just wanted to move on and do what was right. And we never received any public criticism from anyone we invited. But because the foundation was offended, that was enough."

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