CRM giant Salesforce is adding a layer of intelligence to its Service Cloud that aims to use "data science" to drive smarter, more efficient customer service. Salesforce calls its new solution the "Service Cloud Intelligence Engine" and reports that it will help provide better service and an improved customer experience in today's more connected world.
The Salesforce announcement touches on the fact that everything is becoming more connected via the Internet, with more intelligent devices emerging all the time, and many devices adding self-learning capabilities. From self-driving cars and thermostats that learn optimal temperature settings -- to fitness trackers that monitor heart rates -- everything around us is getting smarter. That trend is leading to a world where over 75 billion connected devices make it possible for consumers to connect and interact at new levels.
Salesforce is closely watching how this new connected world is raising customer expectations for always-on and always-present services. Because most companies are not well-equipped to address such fast-growing consumer demand, they are at risk of falling behind the competition. On the upside, Salesforce research has found that businesses that have been able to adopt smarter approaches to customer service have posted a 91 percent greater year-over-year customer retention rate compared with their competitors who are falling behind.
Three Big Promises
So how do smarter devices and a more connected world tie in with the new Salesforce engine?
Mike Milburn, who is Senior VP and General Manager of Service Cloud at Salesforce, explains it like this: "The Service Cloud Intelligence Engine harnesses the power of data science to improve workflows [and] business processes and deliver seamless customer service across any channel."
By using analytics from business intelligence derived from the Service Cloud Intelligence Engine, companies can be better prepared to "exceed their customers' increasingly high expectations for smarter service," Milburn said.
Salesforce outlined three components of the Service Cloud Intelligence Engine that will leverage data science to help customers offer smarter customer service: Intelligent Business Processes; Intelligent Workload Management; and Seamless Omni-Channel Customer View.
First, the Intelligent Business Processes feature assigns cases to customer service agents based on a few key factors, including skill set, case history, and presence or communication channel (e-mail, Web, phone, video chat or SMS). Salesforce's Cloud Intelligence Engine can also use advanced workflow automation to trigger any business process.
One strategic example would be to escalate cases beyond the support department to sales or marketing. A support center, for example, can route cases from VIP customers to top agents or distribute potential sales leads to the best teams or individuals equipped to upsell.
Big Customer Wins
On the Intelligent Workload Management front, Salesforce can automatically distribute and manage agent workloads to respond to the unpredictable demands of omni-channel support. So instead of depending on manual processes to fill an agent's queue with customer cases, the technology automatically sends them based on the agent's ability to handle specific case types while also taking into consideration the agent's caseload. The goal is to maximize productivity. For example, Service Cloud won't send cases to an agent who's on video chat and it can also take into account the agent's break times.
Finally, with the Seamless Omni-Channel Customer View functionality, customers can start conversations on one channel and transition to another without having to repeatedly identify themselves, explain their problems again, or bring a new agent up to speed. A customer with an open e-mail case who asks for a video chat will automatically be routed to the same agent working on the e-mail case for a seamless service experience.
Activision, Eurostar and HP are among the firms using the Service Cloud. Companies that have deployed the Service Cloud have realized an average of 42 percent faster case resolution; a 40 percent decrease in support costs; an average of 40 percent increase in agent productivity; and an average of 40 percent increase in customer satisfaction, according to a recent third-party research report sponsored by Salesforce.
“We are building the next generation of travel that is highly personal and seamlessly connected across any channel -- on the Web, on e-mail, phone, mobile, social media -- and even at the train station,” said Antoine de Kerviler, CIO of Eurostar. “By standardizing the entire customer service platform on Salesforce, Eurostar is able to deliver a single view of customers so agents can deliver exceptional service at every turn.”
Service Cloud is available now. Pricing starts at $135 per user, per month. The Service Cloud Intelligence Engine will come online later this year with pricing to be disclosed when it's released.