How Good Is the Customer Service Functionality in Salesforce Winter ’13?

Posted Thursday, January 24, 2013 in Customer Service by Mitchell Kramer

Knowledge Management Is Strong; Analytics Are Weak: We’ve just done an in-depth evaluation of the customer service capabilities in Salesforce Winter ’13, the latest release of the CRM suite from Salesforce.com. These capabilities include account management, case management, knowledge management, process management, internal communities, and social network management. They comprise the broadest and deepest customer service offering that we’ve seen from any single supplier.

Service Cloud is the Salesforce CRM application that provides the case management capabilities and serves as the anchor. A collection of tightly integrated, but variously packaged and priced features and additional applications provide the rest of the customer service functionality. All of the apps and features run on the Salesforce CRM platform, which provides a very large set of common, shared services, data, and tools.

Salesforce Knowledge at Blue Shield of CaliforniaThese customer service capabilities are very, very good. Knowledge management capabilities are the most surprising strength. Salesforce.com’s developers have worked hard to improve what had been a major weakness of the offering when we evaluated the Winter ’10 release three years ago.

On the other hand, analytic functionality (instrumentation and reporting) was the most surprising limitation. It packages a huge set of predefined reports. But it’s quite difficult to analyze and to refine the performance, efficiency, and effectiveness of deployed customer service capabilities.

Why? Two reasons:

  1. Most significantly, customer and agent activity at their UIs, collecting the content of agent’s search queries, for example, is not instrumented. Instrumentation (the data that Salesforce collects, stores, and uses as report input) focuses on logging changes to Objects in the Salesforce CRM database.
  2. Packaged and predefined reports focus on sales Objects—Forecasts, Leads, Opportunities, and Territories. There are no packaged and predefined report types on knowledge items, community posts and replies, or on business processes.

These are the extremes. On balance, the strengths outweigh the limitations. Our evaluation of the customer service capabilities in Salesforce Winter ’13 against our framework for customer service is very positive. We really do recommend it, especially for businesses that are already Sales Cloud customers.

Here's our evaluation of:

Salesforce.com Service Cloud Winter ’13
Cross-Channel Case, Knowledge, Account, and Social Network Management
By Mitch Kramer, Senior Consultant, Patricia Seybold Group, January 24, 2013

 

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