When Gmail failed a few months ago, I tried using Google to find out what was going on. When that did not get me an answer, I tried Twitter and did find some answers. That alerted me to the power of real-time search in one specific usage case. It was a relatively minor problem for me. But what if I ran customer service for a SaaS firm that just had a major outage? How would I find and monitor the conversations going on out there? That is what today’s announcement by Salesforce.com about Twitter integration is all about.
What Is It?
Salesforce.com has just announced this extension to its Service Cloud, a tool it released back in January. Service Cloud is built on Salesforce.com’s Force platform and allows customer service people to monitor and manage conversations that are happening about their company on social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
When Gmail failed, the idea of calling Google’s customer service never occurred to me. That is increasingly normal. We turn to online services because calling customer support call centers is too frustrating.
Salesforce.com announced that you can now search, monitor, and join conversations specifically on Twitter:
- Search: find mentions on Twitter.
- Monitor: track subsequent mentions and replies.
- Join: become an active participant in the conversation.
These are all things you can already do on Twitter and countless Twitter-specific apps. Salesforce.com, though, thinks that you want to be able to do this from within your customer service system, and that Twitter is only one of many places where these conversations are happening.
What Does It Look Like?
The screenshot below shows the Service Cloud with the capability of tracking conversations across multiple social media venues:
Why Is This Important?
There are two ways to look at this:
- Salesforce.com is recognizing that a lot of important conversations are happening on Twitter, and it needs to provide this information to its users.
- The media is hopelessly infatuated with Twitter, and Salesforce.com saw this as a good way to get some attention.
If the latter is true, then one point to Salesforce from this journalist! Our take, though, is that it’s a bit of both. Salesforce.com presents this as a tool for customer service, but it is equally applicable to sales. Before contacting someone on an important call, a quick check on what is being said about them, about you or your firm, and/or about the subject of your call is simply good preparation.
Today’s announcement is important because Twitter is where those conversations are most easily available, for two reasons:
- Twitter is up to the minute (unlike Google). This matters in customer service. You cannot say, “Sorry, Google’s crawler hasn’t yet found this,” when speaking to an irate customer.
- Twitter’s real-time information is more visible and accessible (compared to Facebook and LinkedIn). This is a testament to Twitter’s openness. Facebook’s March 5th redesign seems motivated, at least in part, by the need to make the real-time news feed more visible.