Enterprises may be late adopters of social media, but a new effort by Salesforce aims to make it easier for companies to tap into the trend for customer service.
The news marks the Software-as-a-Service (SAAS) CRM giant's most recent foray into social media. Last year, the company began showing off Force.com for Facebook, an application that lets enterprises build applications in Salesforce (NYSE: CRM) that take advantage of Facebook's social features and massive audience.
But there's demand in particular for customer service solutions because there's pain in the call center, said Alexandre Dayon, senior vice president of the customer service and support division at Salesforce.
Customers no longer go to companies to solve problems because the existing tools prevent it: Automated phone help is often seen as confusing, while Web knowledge bases are filled with irrelevant information and e-mail takes too long.
Instead, customers frequently abandon the telephone and the corporate support infrastructure and go to Google, Facebook, Twitter and to community message boards to get their answers. In response, companies are aiming to follow them to the Web, and some already have.
Forrester analyst, Jeremiah Oywang says in his blog, Web Strategy, referring to Twitter that-
Although they have not directly said it, I think Twitter can go further than this, they could be their own CRM system, by perhaps offering their own analytics system to brands, that will help them to track and manage the conversations within the 140 sphere. This has tremendous opportunities for Twitter should they create their own brand management system that they can resell to the world’s companies to monitor, alert, track, prioritize, triage, assign, followup, and report on the interactions with brands. The myriad of authority based tools will need to be incorporated, as some users have a larger network and are therefore more influential than others. On the other hand, they just might leave the firehose open for the incumbent CRM companies to take advantage of –and miss this opportunity, hell, Scoble is already expecting brands to contact him when he has a major life event. Either way, with a recent funding amount of $35mm, they’ve enough run rate to first manage growth, then prepare for monetization.Customer service integrating social media feeds is a good thing. However, I thing the real value of social media comes when you tie it directly into the sales cycle. When the sales cycle is nothing more than a natural extension of the real, open individual interaction between a prospect and a company, then we'll have realized the ROI of social media.
There are a few layers when it comes to how Social CRM can evolve, I’ll save that for a future post. On a related note, this is one of the key findings from our many interviews for the upcoming report: The Future of the Social Web.