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Salesforce Service Cloud Aims At Making Life Easier For Agents

Service Out of the Box - image Salesforce
On July 27, 2017 Salesforce announced the availability of an update to their customer service platform Service Cloud. According to Keith Pearce, VP Marketing, Service Cloud, differentiation in customer service is no more a topic within industries, but across industries. Today, customer service in companies competes against the impression gained in another industry, telco vs. banking, vs airline, vs. … you get the picture.
Consequently, winning organizations are concentrating on three areas:
-       platform
-       productivity
-       mobile
However, this focus can potentially slow down these organizations because they normally come with trade-offs, like scalability vs. speed of deployment, ease of use vs. complete information, or mobility for customers vs. mobility for agents.
Salesforce wants to address these trade-offs with this release by making the solution very easy to set up, easier to customize and enhance, easier to use and finally by offering a new mobile app for agents and supervisors.
There is a scripted set up that lets admins deploy a usable application in a short time; Salesforce speaks of less than one day. A component library helps in easily adding relevant functionality via drag and drop in a simple application builder. Of course there are additional components and applications available via the AppExchange market place.
Agents shall be made more productive by a clean Kanban-style UI, a tool called Community360 that helps in surfacing community content that a user reviewed before logging an incident, a federated search that is capable of searching across open search compatible providers, and the ability for agents to script tasks.
Lastly, there is a new mobile app for agents and supervisors.
Here is the complete announcement in case you do not want to follow the link above. Alternatively you can directly continue with my take on this release.

Salesforce Delivers the Next Generation of the World’s #1 Customer Service Platform
With the new Service Cloud, built on the Salesforce Lightning component framework, companies can deploy a customizable, modern customer service platform in a single day
New Service Console innovations improve agent productivity, making it easier for companies to provide personalized, differentiated customer service  
New Service Cloud Mobile app lets agents manage and resolve cases anytime, anywhere

SAN FRANCISCO—July 27, 2017—Salesforce [NYSE: CRM], the global leader in CRM, today introduced the next generation of Service Cloud, the #1 customer service platform. Built on the Salesforce Lightning component-based framework, companies can easily configure and set-up Service Cloud for their organizations in less than a day. With Lightning-Ready partner apps and Lightning App Builder for Service, companies can easily customize and extend Service Cloud. In addition, a new Lightning Service Console adds several new capabilities that boost agent productivity, and a new Service Cloud Mobile app empowers agents to provide exceptional customer service from anywhere. And with Salesforce’s interactive learning platform, Trailhead, anyone can learn for free how to deploy and customize Service Cloud.

The new Service Cloud addresses the needs of today’s consumer, who increasingly expect service experiences that are fast, personalized and available through their preferred channels. Yet, many companies today struggle to provide modern, personalized customer service. Established companies often have inflexible, legacy customer service systems, making it difficult and costly to improve existing support channels or add new ones. Smaller companies are often forced to make trade-offs between selecting a lightweight helpdesk for their immediate needs, as opposed to a more robust solution that can scale for future growth.

Introducing the Next Generation of Service Cloud
Service Cloud provides any company, regardless of size, with a flexible, modern customer service platform that is quick to set-up, easy to learn and can be customized to meet their needs today and in the future. New innovations for Service Cloud include:

· Service Out-of-the-Box lets companies build a modern customer service center in a single day. Case management is now pre-built into Service Cloud, and a new streamlined set-up experience simplifies the steps needed to deploy essential service flows—with clicks, not code. Service admins can add a customer community and knowledge base, as well as connect to email, Facebook and Twitter feeds—some in as little as five steps. And wIth Trailhead, Salesforce’s online, gamified learning platform, anyone can take one of the 20+ free, guided modules to learn how to deploy, configure and customize Service Cloud.

· AppExchange and Lightning App Builder for Service provide customer service teams with an easy way to customize and extend Service Cloud. Using the Lightning App Builder, companies can extend functionality by simply dragging-and-dropping one of the new service Lightning Components--such as the knowledge sidebar or related record--into Service Cloud. Companies can further extend Service Cloud functionality with more than 75 Lightning-Ready service partner apps available today on the AppExchange, the world’s largest business app marketplace.  Among the service apps available today are telephony and call center management capabilities from Dialpad, NewVoiceMedia and Talkdesk; IoT asset tracking and mapping from MapAnything Live; and patient education from Healthwise.

· Lightning Service Console, the unified desktop experience for customer service agents, includes several new capabilities to maximize productivity and speed so agents can provide better customer experiences and resolve cases faster.
o Case Kanban provides a visual dashboard of cases in queue so agents can more efficiently triage cases and prioritize their time.
o Community Agent 360 gives the agent useful context, surfacing a customer’s community history and showing if the customer recently viewed or created content, such as a reading a community article or posting a comment.
o Federated Search helps an agent quickly find records across Salesforce and external data sources such as Confluence, YouTube, Dropbox and Box.
o Macro Builder lets agents quickly create reusable macros for specific customer service scenarios that agents can easily deploy if the issue arises again.

· Service Cloud Mobile app for iOS and Android will empower agents to provide personalized customer service from anywhere. With the new native mobile app,  employees will be able to triage, manage and resolve cases while in meetings or on-the-go. Push notifications will help keep agents up to date on the status of their cases, making it easier for them to provide customers with fast, responsive service.

Comments on the News:
· “Service Cloud is the market leader because of our unparalleled track record of innovation,” said Mike Rosenbaum, EVP, CRM Apps, Salesforce. “The flexibility of Salesforce Lightning and the Service Cloud platform enables us to move quickly and break down technological barriers, so our customers can focus on what matters most for them—delivering truly differentiated service to their customers.”
· "Every company recognizes the importance of providing good customer service. But for smaller companies, setting up a new contact center is often overwhelming and for bigger companies, they are often constrained by old, legacy systems," said Rebecca Wettemann, VP, Research, Nucleus Research. "With today's announcement, Salesforce is making it much easier for companies all sizes to provide differentiated service."

About Service Cloud
Service Cloud, the world’s #1 customer service platform, enables companies to transform the customer and agent experience with an AI-powered, agile platform built for the modern era. Whether engaging customers via messaging, video, communities, web chat, in-app, email, phone or even communicating directly with IoT-connected products, Service Cloud helps leading brands use service as a competitive advantage by delivering personalized, connected customer service experiences across every channel and adapting service operations to business needs quickly. Companies that have deployed Service Cloud have seen an average of 31 percent faster case resolution, an average of 28 percent increase in agent productivity, an average of 26 percent increase in customer retention, an average of 22 percent decrease in support costs, and an average of 35 percent increase in customer satisfaction, according to a third-party research report sponsored by Salesforce. Salesforce has been recognized as a leader for nine consecutive years in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for CRM Customer Engagement Center.

Additional Information
· Discover how Service Cloud can help companies deliver personalized service to their customers via Trailhead: https://trailhead.salesforce.com/trail/service_cloud

Connect with Salesforce
· Like Salesforce on Facebook http://facebook.com/salesforce
· Follow @salesforce and @servicecloud on Twitter

About Salesforce
Salesforce, the Customer Success Platform and world's #1 CRM, empowers companies to connect with their customers in a whole new way. For more information about Salesforce (NYSE: CRM), visit: www.salesforce.com.
Any unreleased services or features referenced in this or other press releases or public statements are not currently available and may not be delivered on time or at all. Customers who purchase Salesforce applications should make their purchase decisions based upon features that are currently available. Salesforce has headquarters in San Francisco, with offices in Europe and Asia, and trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “CRM.” For more information please visit http://www.salesforce.com, or call 1-800-NO-SOFTWARE.

My Take

This release mainly focuses more on agent experience than on customer experience. It delivers a number of useful improvements of the Service Cloud. I particularly like the Service-Out-Of-The-Box capability that helps in easily setting up a working environment. To me it seems very similar to Amazon’s Cloud Connect that can get setup with a few clicks only, but goes beyond it with its customizing and enhancement abilities. In combination with attractive pricing (of which I don’t know whether it is there or not) this has the potential of making Salesforce Service Cloud more attractive for smaller companies again. Still it needs some more steps, e.g. in facilitating an Einstein-supported routing of inbound service requests via its contents instead of having one email address per queue (topic).
The second very useful feature is Community360 that gives context to the agent the moment a recognized user calls in. With this agents do know what the user looked at and can get into a more focused research right away. Unluckily at this time it requires the customer to be logged in to properly match the calling customer to the corresponding search history.
As useful as federated search is – this is ability probably long overdue, although there are admittedly complexities in the management of authorizations when searching across corporate document repositories.
The mobile app to me is a kind of round off. One simply needs to have a mobile app nowadays, but the added benefit for most organizations is limited due to its limited screen real estate. In my mind it should not get overvalued outside notifying managers or escalation contacts to get back to their screens or help a struggling agent. Smaller organizations or ambitious agents might use it to go the extra mile outside office, but it cannot be the main tool.

Overall I think that Salesforce brought some well thought through enhancements that can add value to businesses. On the concern side, some of them seem half baked but are paving the way for future improvements.

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