We last published an evaluation of Service Cloud on August 12, 2010, a report that focused on the capabilities of the Summer ’10 release. We found that a broad set of case management, knowledge management, and account management capabilities that support a wide range of customer activities; a rich and easily customizable self-service UI; the Customer Portal; and the viability of Salesforce.com (SFDC) were its key strengths. Its limitations were in search and analytic functionality. In the four releases since our evaluation, SFDC has made significant improvements in every area that we evaluate, including search and analytics. SFDC has also introduced new products that support chat (Live Agent) and customer service processes (Visual Workflow), further broadening and strengthening the offering.
In this evaluation of the customer service capabilities of the Winter ’12 release of Salesforce.com’s Service Cloud, the key strengths continue to be the breadth of capabilities and their support for customer activities, UI content management, and the viability of SFDC. Improvements have made knowledge management a key strength, too, and search and analytic functionality are no longer limitations.
- The positioning for Service Cloud has evolved from supporting telephone-based contact centers to supporting “social contact centers” that support a wide range of assisted-service, self-service, and social-service channels. In fact, with Winter ’12, SFDC has repositioned the larger Salesforce CRM offering for the “social enterprise.” The social enterprise supports external social channels like Twitter and Facebook but also an internal social network through Salesforce Chatter. Chatter features have become integral to customer service facilities for case management, knowledge management, and account management. Many new and improved customer service features are based on Chatter.
- Service Cloud has a broad perspective on knowledge management through support for knowledge in the resolutions of cases, on internal communities, and on social networks. Case resolutions, community replies, Facebook posts, and Tweets can be promoted to knowledgebase drafts, creating cross-channel knowledge.
- Regarding search, we’ve seen more powerful search engines, but we’ve seen few search engines as complementary to case management and knowledge management approach as search in Service Cloud.
- UI content management in Service Cloud is excellent across all of our evaluation criteria. Assisted-service and self-service UIs are all rich and flexible.
- Visual Workflow, a relatively new feature, gives process designers facilities and tools to build powerful and flexible processes. It’s based on technology that SFDC acquired from Informavores in January 2010. We expect it to mature and to be more tightly integrated with Service Cloud in future releases.
- Salesforce.com continues to improve the analytic functionality for Service Cloud. New standard and predefined custom report types and predefined, packaged dashboards provide excellent analysis of the usage and effectiveness of most customer service resources.
One more point: SFDC is continually improving its offering. The newest improvements were announced the day before we published our evaluation—Radian6 for Service Cloud and Salesforce Social Hub. Both leverage technology of Radian6, a social listening supplier from Fredericton, NB, Canada, that SFDC acquired this May. They expand external social network support significantly, and they help realize the new social enterprise positioning.
Salesforce.com Service Cloud Winter ’12
Cross-Channel Case, Knowledge, Account, and Social Network Management
By Mitch Kramer, Senior Consultant, Patricia Seybold Group, December 1, 2011