CRM Battle Heats Up as Salesforce Launches Social Media Update
Salesforce.com unveiled its Service Cloud 3 March 3, giving businesses the ability to analyze and respond to customer feedback filtering from Websites such as Twitter and Facebook. It represents the next stage in Salesforce's quest to leverage social networking for the benefit of its cloud-based CRM (customer relationship management) platform, and the latest twist in the company's competition against not only Oracle, but also SAP and Microsoft.
All of those companies are seeking to profit from businesses' increased interest in CRM and its ability to not only make their customer service more efficient, but also blunt the occasional public relations snafu.
"There is strong corporate awareness, including at corporate executive levels, of social networks and their potential impact on corporate brand management and customer service perception," Drew Kraus, a research vice president at Gartner, wrote in a March 3 research note. "We expect the high-profile nature of social networks and social CRM for customer service to rapidly advance adoption from early adopter to mainstream deployments despite the volatile and rapid evolution of social networks in general."
For the Salesforces, Oracles, Microsofts and SAPs of the world, that translates into a constant push to add new features and functionality, giving their respective CRM platforms an edge -- however temporary -- over their rivals.
Service Cloud 3, for example, lets employees click on a dashboard tab labeled "Social Conversations" and see whatever customers are posting on Twitter or Facebook. Those employees can also monitor broader swaths of social-networking data, via dashboard metrics such as "Twitter Volume by Product" or "Cases by Channel."