Salesforce is venturing even deeper into the land of socially based customer relations, with its $50 million acquisition of Assistly, announced Wednesday. Assistly allows its corporate customers to quickly provision socially based customer service as needed.
Salesforce, which now describes itself as "the enterprise cloud computing company," said in a statement that the acquisition would enable it to offer "instant customer-service help built for the cloud."
The Assistly social customer service allows small companies and emerging businesses to establish socially based customer service in minutes, with what Salesforce described as "zero-touch outboarding." Companies can then engage with customers in real-time through a variety of channels via a single interface. The channels include Facebook, Twitter, web chats, e-mail and phone.
Any company employee can sign up and quickly begin to deliver support. All customer conversations, from all channels, are coalesced into one interface, with case filters, business rules and workflows. Companies can pay to use the hosted customer service application by the hour, or get unlimited use for $49 per person per month.
Salesforce.com Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff said in a statement that the acquisition "doubles down" on the company's strategy of "democratizing enterprise applications in the cloud." Executive Vice President Alex Dayon said Salesforce's enlarged cloud of services "will now enable even the smallest companies to become a social enterprise."
Laura DiDio, an analyst with Information Technology Intelligence, said there was "enough evidence that socially based customer service won't evaporate," particularly given the number of younger customers who are heavy users of social media. She added that Benioff is "enacting a specific strategy" to stay up with this trend, and with what his competitors -- SAP, Microsoft, and others -- are doing.
Salesforce has been positioning itself as a leader in cloud-based, socially enhanced services. At the recent Dreamforce 2011 annual event several weeks ago, for instance, the company said that "companies are completely changing the way they collaborate, communicate and share information with customers and employees in the cloud -- transforming themselves into social enterprises." This transformation, the company said, leverages social, mobile, and open cloud computing.
A look at Salesforce.com's major platform and application services shows how social media have affected its offerings, with social media monitoring, analysis, and engagement. There's Salesforce Chatter, a private social network for businesses, the Sales Cloud for contact management and sales force automation, the Service Cloud for customer service and support, Radian 6 for social media monitoring and engagement, and Herkoku, for building social and mobile apps in Ruby.
In March, it announced "the next generation of social contact centers," Service Cloud 3. It positioned the updated software-as-a-service customer service platform as "customer service for the social era."
Service Cloud 3 was designed to let organizations more completely engage with customers in social communities such as Twitter or Facebook. To facilitate that, the platform included a new integration with a Radian6 app. Salesforce.com bought the social-media monitoring firm Radian 6, also in March.
Posted: 2011-10-02 @ 9:48pm PT
Assistly is a great company..this acquisition should help Salesforce to take customer service support to next level.