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Salesforce.com's Service Cloud 2: 'Democratic' Customer Service

By Maria Verlengia
Nov 22, 2010 5:00 AM PT

Salesforce.com's Service Cloud 2, a Web-based platform designed to help companies handle their customer service needs, includes integration with Salesforce Chatter, the service provider's new real-time collaboration tool.

Salesforce.com's Service Cloud 2: 'Democratic' Customer Service

"Service Cloud is the fasting-growing product offering," Fergus Griffin, vice president of product marketing at Salesforce.com, told CRM Buyer.

Traditional customer service methods focused on call centers, he pointed out. Customers have since moved to new channels, including self-service, mobile connectivity, and social media such as Twitter and Facebook.

Even Google search can function as a customer self-service method, he noted.

Service Cloud 2 works to connect old and new channels. It also manages public knowledge bases where knowledge is centralized and leveraged across all channels, said Griffin. Knowledge and case management are core ingredients.

Salesforce.com Service Cloud Dashboard
Salesforce.com Service Cloud Dashboard

"That's part of our company solution. We're aiming to help companies connect with customers," he explained. "We're helping customers connect in communities and self-service forums."

Wagging the Dog

Some examples of business sites powered by Service Cloud 2 include Dell's IdeaStorm and My Starbucks Idea. Comcast is another Service Cloud 2 customer, and the World Cup used it to make channels available on Twitter.

Social media channels that allow for a quicker response and mobile connectivity are becoming mainstream, Griffin observed, and collaboration will be more important in meeting customer demands.

"Social is wagging the dog somewhat," he noted. "We see it more and more."

Service Cloud 2 integrates social media and telephony, allowing contact centers to track key terms and pull them from Twitter conversations, added Griffin. The whole record can be recorded.

Power of the Tweet

Many Fortune 500 companies are now monitoring social media because they are aware that negative feedback on social media channels can adversely affect a company's reputation, Shep Hyken, creator of The Customer Focus training program, told CRM Buyer.

Today, customers are quick to tweet their complaints about a product. Although a company may react quickly to resolve an issue, customers will rarely share the resolution on their social media accounts, he pointed out. The damage to a company's reputation is done, even though the issue has been resolved.

Companies can counteract this by building an emotional bond with customers, making them more willing to broadcast a satisfactory result on Twitter and Facebook, Hyken advised.

Wave of the Future

Although Salesforce.com offers a very inexpensive entry-level product, some of the more advanced versions offer tremendous benefits, providing a company has enough resources and staff to take full advantage of them, Hyken said. That functionality could change the whole face of a business.

"It's all good," he remarked. "It's a big program with a lot to offer -- a very powerful program."

Overall, cloud-based software will be very beneficial, especially since the tool does not have to be installed, Hyken said.

"The beauty of that is there's safety for the customer," he added. "That's the way everything will go in the future."

'Democratic' Solution

Service Cloud 2 is "democratic," Salesforce.com's Griffin said. Customer service agents are now global, and there is flexibility with location.

"We service small, medium and large companies. We can scale from small to very large," he added.

In the past, there used to be big upfront expenditure, Griffin pointed out. A Web-based solution eliminates that obstacle. Salesforce.com charges US$65 per user per month for the Professional Edition, $135 per user per month for the Enterprise Edition, and $260 per user per month for the Unlimited Edition.

Salesforce.com's strengths include flexibility and easy scalability, as well as a wide array of options and third party plug-ins for additional functionality, said Jeff Furst, founder, president and CEO of FurstPerson. It also offers the ability to map business processes.

Although Salesforce.com was more sales-oriented when it first started out, and product support was not always as robust as that offered by other tools, "Salesforce has come a long way in that area," Furst told CRM Buyer.

Focus on the Customer

Ultimately, quality customer service is determined by how much a customer service solution makes it easier to focus on the customer, said Hyken. Concern for the customer needs to be at the forefront.

"It's a philosophy," he concluded.

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