To date, Salesforce.com claims that nearly 9,000 customers have licensed Service Cloud, four million user licenses have been purchased for Customer Portal, and approximately 100 customers have licensed Salesforce Knowledge. Very few customers have licensed Answers, a community/user forum application that was introduced last February with Spring '10 release.
Support for social media got our attention. Service Cloud, of course, supports Chatter, SFDC's application for collaboration among an organization's internal users. For example, you might use Chatter to track and communicate the work to resolve a case, exchanging technical information and status among level one and level 2 CSRs, developers, QA personnel, and even the account executive. However, Service Cloud, and, in fact, all of Salesforce CRM, does not support external, public social media. SFDC has been talking about Salesforce for Twitter and a Salesforce for Facebook or a Facebook Connector for quite a while, but these are not actual products with warranties and support. Rather, they're free, downloadable apps from AppExchange that have been developed by SFDC personnel outside formal product development. SFDC told us that these are "managed." That is, they are built to accommodate and support upgrades and they cannot be modified by the organization that downloads them. To be sure, they are useful apps, and we gather that a few thousand organizations have downloaded and deployed them. Take care in using them.
Our report on Service Cloud Summer '10 updates our report on the Winter '10 release of Salesforce.com's customer service. We had described Winter '10 as a "release 1" offering with basic knowledge management capabilities, limited search, basic escalation facilities, and virtually absent analytic functionality. In Spring '10 and Summer '10, Salesforce.com has made many significant improvements to Service Cloud. Analytic functionality in Service Cloud 2 Summer '10 has been improved significantly. Certainly it's no longer a release 1 offering.
Service Cloud and its Answers, Customer Portal, Entitlements, Salesforce Knowledge, and Salesforce Mobile add-ons provide a very broad range of cross-channel, cross-lifecycle case management, knowledge management, and social media customer service capabilities. These applications are positioned to address the requirements of high volume B2C contact centers that provide support for complex products as well as B2B contact centers. Within this positioning, Service Cloud's case management capabilities and Salesforce Knowledge KM capabilities support assisted-service and, through the Customer Portal and Force.com-based public Web sites, support self-service. In addition, Service Cloud's Answers application supports a level of peer-service or social service.
We've performed this evaluation of Service Cloud Summer '10 using our new, more general, customer service framework rather than the framework for evaluating knowledge management-based customer service offerings, the framework we used to evaluate Service Cloud Winter '10. The new framework places less emphasis on knowledge management and search technologies and places more emphasis on the channels and customer activities supported. Service Cloud is much more than a KM-based customer service offering. Its strengths are in case management and customer activity support. As a result, it earned better grades both because of its improvements and because of the changes in our evaluation criteria. Most of the new and enhanced capabilities in Spring '10 and in Summer '10 have not been made in knowledge management or search technologies. Salesforce.com still has work to do in those areas.
Bottom line, Service Cloud 2 Summer '10 has no major limitations, no showstoppers. We recommend that you consider it for your organization's case management, knowledge management, and account management requirements. If your organization's customer service experience is built on your contact center, then Service Cloud 2 could very well be your best fit.
Salesforce Service Cloud Summer '10
Significantly Improved Cross-Channel, Cross-Lifecycle Customer Service
By Mitchell I. Kramer, Sr. VP and Sr. Consultant, Patricia Seybold Group, August 5, 2010