In its own interpretation of Amazon's Mayday button -- a live support system on Kindle Fire HDs -- Salesforce.com is introducing what it's calling the future of mobile app support with the Service SOS for its Service Cloud. The concept manifests as an SOS button inside mobile apps.
Like Amazon's Mayday, Service SOS offers live video support and on-screen guided assistance. The idea is to help companies deliver more personalized customer service within mobile apps. So far, Cars.com, American Express and Stanley Black & Decker, among others, are using the new CRM tool.
Here's how it works: Customers can call up a service agent through live audio and one-way video for real-time, personalized assistance within a mobile app. Salesforce offered the practical example of a mobile banking customer who wants to ask about a charge. With Service SOS, the customer can connect with a service agent to dispute the transaction in seconds.
"The mobile phone has become the dashboard of our lives -- we use it to manage how we interact with not only people, but products and companies," said Alex Bard, executive vice president and general manager of Service Cloud at Salesforce. "As the mobile device becomes every consumer's channel of choice, it is important companies meet their customers where they are."
Rethinking Mobile Customer Service
If you pull back the mobile apps market lens, you can see why Salesforce is pushing in this direction. According to market research firm Gartner, mobile app stores will see annual downloads reach 268 billion in 2017 and drive a total revenue of $77 billion. Both downloads and revenues are set to grow 27 percent a year between 2012 and 2017.
Market research firm Forrester backs that up. According to its "Mobile App Stores, Worldwide" report, customers are downloading more than 800 apps per second at a rate of more than 2 billion apps per month in Apple's iTunes App Store alone.
Slashing Customer Frustration
According to third-party research Salesforce commissioned, companies that have deployed Service Cloud have seen an average 41 percent decrease in first-call resolution time, an average 35 percent decrease in support costs, an average 40 percent increase in agent productivity, and an average 37 percent increase in customer satisfaction. Service SOS could drive those numbers even higher.
Cars.com, for one, is convinced.
"With Salesforce1 Service Cloud, we can provide our customers with access to Cars.com mobile sites to ensure on-the-go shoppers receive the same high level of customer service and support to meet the urgency and personalization of the mobile shopping experience," said Joshua C. Chapman, vice president of operations at Cars.com.
Zeus Kerravala, an analyst at ZK Research, said that until now, there had not been an equivalent to Amazon Mayday in the business world. He predicted this would be the first of many such solutions that would enter the market.
"There are literally tens of thousands of companies that buy cloud services directly. Most of those apps don't have any type of customer service functionality built in," Kerravala told us. "When you think about the trend of having line-of-business managers using apps directly, it's not like you can call your help desk for support. The help desk may not even be aware that you are running the app. This should reduce the amount of customer frustration that companies see."
Salesforce1 Service SOS is planned for private beta the second half of 2014, and pricing will be announced at the time of general availability.