Sramana Mitra: What strikes me also is that Virgin has a good product. The service is its product, and the company is doing a nice job of its core offering, whereas United is not doing a good job with its core offering. As a result, I don’t think it’s easy to turn around a social media, customer discontent situation if your core product or service is not good.
Alex Bard: Well, the point I would make there is that everyone has an opportunity to improve his core product. I think your best opportunity to improve is going to be by getting direct feedback from your customers. United absolutely has that opportunity. If a company doesn’t listen to what customers are saying, it’s not going to make the problems go away, whether the customers say it on a phone call, in an email or letter, or on a social medium. Social media arguably has more impact because it’s public. The infection rate spreads really quickly. In my world view, I think this is a big opportunity, even for companies that have been around for a long time or may have some challenges in their core products to step up on the service side to first, make up for some of those challenges and second, to take that feedback in and to adjust and improve their core products. Otherwise, long term, they won’t survive.
SM: Talk to me about your products in this domain.
AB: Let’s start with service. In service, I think Salesforce is uniquely positioned to deliver a social customer service app to a company of any size. We have the Service Cloud, which has thousands of customer. Some of the world’s largest organizations are using Service Cloud. We have Desk.com, which is complementary and solves many of the same problems in a slightly different way because it’s optimized for smaller businesses and smaller teams. Again, I think we are positioned to be able to provide these social customer support solutions to a company of any size … and for companies to grow with us as they start out as small businesses and eventually become large enterprises, which I’m sure is the aspiration of a lot of entrepreneurs.
The challenges our products are solving are that our customers are communicating in new ways. Businesses are looking to connect with customers in new ways. So, both Service Cloud and Desk.com help clients capture all of those interactions across both traditional channels, such as phone, email, the web, self-service chat, as well as the new social channels, such as Twitter, Facebook and others. Then we bring all of those communications together into one place.
SM: Does that mean that for each customer of every company that is on your system, you’re tracking all of their touch points?
AB: If the company that is using our product chooses to implement them that way, then yes, that’s correct. Let me more specifically talk about Desk.com. Desk.com and Service Cloud are two different solutions, but they largely solve similar problems.
If a small-business owner implements Desk.com, she can connect her Twitter accounts, Facebook accounts, email addresses, and phone numbers to Desk. She can launch a self-service portal using Desk’s knowledge base, which dynamically generates content for her users. She can launch a community where her customers can interact with one another and with the business. All of those interactions get brought into Desk, into one universal queue and then are associated with a customer record so that you can see a history of all of your interactions with that customer, whether it was on Twitter, on Facebook, through email or on the phone.
SM: I guess my question was slightly different. Let’s say I’m a customer of Salesforce.com and Salesforce.com is using Desk to service all of its customers. Are you tracking my Twitter account?
AB: I’m tracking your interaction with our company. So, if you were to tweet, for example, at the business, that would automatically be brought in and added to your customer history. We also have some tools and technologies that let you see some of the most recent tweets of a customer, so as you’re engaging with him, you’ve got relevant, timely content and context to help you interact with him. That’s what we do inside a support environment.
We also have the marketing cloud. Inside the marketing cloud, we’ve got great tools that help businesses track things like sentiment and general conversations that are going on about them. Those are the things that we do to help business leaders to track their conversations with their customers.