Most analysts were waiting for the announcement which is fully in line with the evolutions in the contact center market where, as mentioned in our interview with Genesys, CRM integration, VoIP and support of new digital channels are changing the landscape and turning contact centers into profit centers.
Partnership with the major contact center solution providers
With customer service having an important role in customer retention and loyalty, smaller contact centers and the help desks of smaller organizations obviously want a more integrated approach as well, combined with the single customer view that simply is needed in today’s increasingly digital context.
Salesforce.com, known from its game-changing web-based Sales Force Automation (SFA) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions struck an agreement with the major contact center solution vendors for the launch.
The on-demand cloud customer service platform Supportforce.com was announced together with Avaya, Cisco, Alcatel (Genesys) and Aspect, all happily expressing their support in the press release. Together the companies are good for approximately 70% of the global contact center solution industry, according to The Yankee Group at least.
As said, with Supportforce, Salesforce.com mainly targets contact centers and help desks in smaller organizations, although larger contact centers might follow too as the SaaS model becomes increasingly popular in the enterprise market where it is already used for several marketing and e-business applications and certainly isn’t that new anymore.
The single customer interaction view and digital: self-service on the rise
Just as is the case for web-based or hosted CRM, the absence of client-server installations (and thus the typical maintenance costs) enable these smaller organizations to provide better integrated customer service.
The Salesforce.com suite with Supportforce costs 70 Euros per user per month for the professional edition and 135 Euros for the enterprise edition. In other words: affordable for even the smallest business.
Salesforce.com keeps disrupting the CRM market, just as it change the face of SFA, and broadens its potential customer base with the new offering which, among others can be integrated with any telephony platform, provides a 360-degree view of customer interactions across all channels, has some knowledge management features, supports Web interactions and email and provides self-service features.
Knowledge management, self-service and a single customer interaction view allow organizations to offer customers the consistent customer service experience they expect.
This month, Yankee Group found that contact centers are investing more in customer self-service platforms than in any other technology, even including IVR (Interactive Voice Response).
But of course it takes more than CRM, self-service features, technology, channel integration and – still too often undervalued – knowledge management. Processes, people, skills, culture and management matter more. And in order for customers to use self-service it also needs to be properly integrated with other channels and information, offering customers good experiences and the right response, which is far from the case today.