What do you like best?
The innovation and trust that Salesforce (SFDC) prioritizes in achieving with its customers stands out in the quality of their product and training materials. There isn't another product that allows anyone to learn at the depth, rate, and ease, in the way Salesforce has developed for their platform. The system itself, while still rooted in the simplistic framework of database, has exploded into a dynamic, intelligent, and navigable experience for users, customers, administrators and developers. I love their 1:1:1 model (1 % equity, 1% product, 1% employee time) goes towards lifting up nonprofits and higher-ed endeavors to help give the best tools and solutions to the change-makers of the world. SFDC is also heavily focused on Equality, and as someone who's been in the SFDC-sphere for a decade, those equality initiatives have paid off. Salesforce is a titan, but they seem to be on our side as customers and a force for good -which is a rare feeling in companies with diverse and expansive product-lines. The initial product has changed drastically due to input from their community, not just their in-house innovation -which is a testament to the value of their customer base being trained and vocal.
What do you dislike?
I would say cost and complexity of initial implementation maybe. A small startup would probably struggle with SFDC unless they were aware they needed a qualified Admin (at least) on board to ideate and execute. First two SFDC orgs I encountered were both with Nonprofits -it would be nice if SFDC Account Reps were more earnest about cost, time, and knowledge that is needed in-house to support using SFDC as a hub for all activity. Choosing SFDC is a big decision -it can be life-changing, but that comes at the expense of money and time, which some SBs or NPOs may not fully be able to devote appropriate resources to upfront.
Recommendations to others considering the product
Invest in your in-house talent -train your Admins and Developers, hear them out (they are actually reasonable business analysts without the formal training) and make sure your company is supporting them with involved leadership and super users. Also -dump crappy admins. If your workforce says they hate Salesforce, it is going to be one of a few factors: A) your budget/timing doesn't allow for the most beneficial solutions, B) your business processes are pants and not even an admin can help when decisions or decision makers are low-quality, C) your admin is uneducated or not innovative. If your Admin isn't actively getting involved with all the departments their tool supports and don't try to gauge what key objectives are each year, then they aren't worth a whole lot. Also, don't underestimate your in-house non-tech talent pool -Salesforce transforms lives. Some people with enough technical and process aptitude convert to admins quite well -carrying their previous role skillset and background into building remarkably specific and innovative solutions. Find the people who are curious, competent, and involved, then shower them with opportunities to problem solve. #1 guide for potential new clients -really scope out your use case, be very honest with your consultant about your needs and budget, then ask if the essentials can be done within your budget, what in-house maintenance looks like (what qualification level is needed), and what fulfilling 'ideal' solutions look like over 5 years after implementation. Tell them you need direction and want to dig deep. You may have to pay for more up front for discovery but it is worth it to build right the first time and not get dumped with something too complex to manage for your resources (knowledge, time, budget).
What business problems are you solving with the product? What benefits have you realized?
Process improvement, time-wasting menial tasks are eradicated or reduced, client 360s are possible due to the Lightning Experience with ease, Einstein Analytics provides dynamism and greater context to reporting in a modern way, executives and navigate key information with ease, visibility and security is robust and customizable, almost anything can be greatly improved with code, declarative automation can be complex but ultimately straight-forward. I've migrated two nonprofits to Salesforce and worked in a heavily-code dependent org -while only working with small businesses, the use cases have all be drastically different and SFDC has been able to meet each need. For nonprofits, the key wins were in the amount of information we could cleanly and easily access for evaluating what fundraising or program initiatives were working -the reporting alone is a savior for most .orgs. The ability to easily integrate with donation services also exponentially improves the range and longevity of a nonprofit. On the corporate side, the number of tools we can leverage is far greater than in NPO-land -we get to use products and consulting power that can take incredibly granular and complex processes with many exceptions and find a way to provide custom views, automation, and actionables. As long as you devote time to your admins and developers, they will find a way to make magic with your org.