Salesforce.com Corrals Customer Services in the Cloud

Salesforce.com has rolled out another cloud offering — this time for the service space. Called “Service Cloud,” the bundled applications, which include integrated social networking tools, are built on the Force.com platform.

Service Cloud allows users to create an online community for up to 250 customers, set up a contact center with up to five agents, and connect with partner sites like Facebook and Google. Partners can participate in the Service Cloud as well.

New Type of Customer Service

Service Cloud is a new type of customer service offering, Senior Vice President Alex Dayon, general manager of customer service and support, told CRM Buyer. “Service Cloud gives you insight into all the noise that is generated in discussions among a customer base.”

Salesforce.com has already introduced many of the features that are part of Service Cloud. For instance, Salesforce.com CRM Ideas and the Force.com Sites are the application’s foundation. There are also more than 100 customer service extensions on the Force.com AppExchange for chat, field service and CTI.

The application also borrows from technology that Salesforce.com acquired last year with its US$31.5 million purchase of InStranet, a provider of knowledge management technology for call centers. In Service Cloud, Salesforce.com has bundled all those capabilities on one platform and built new business processes on top of them, according to Dayon.

Leading Edge

Salesforce.com is dedicating itself to embedding social networking applications in the cloud, Yankee Group analyst Sheryl Kingstone told CRM Buyer. “They want to leverage information from an intranet or internal knowledge base, leverage Facebook or other social networking application connects, and use IP to make all of this data operational for a business.”

The Ideas concept, for instance, is proving to be valuable in a service environment, because it engages customers when they have problems, and it builds loyalty, she said.

To be sure, other companies have at least entered the talking stage of developing similar ideas, noted Kingstone, but Salesforce.com is one of the first to develop tangible applications to execute its vision.

Service Cloud packages start at $995 per month.

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