Service Cloud Winter ’13

Cross-Channel Case, Knowledge, Account, and Social Network Management

January 24, 2013

Salesforce CRM Winter ’13 offers a broad and deep array of customer service capabilities anchored by the Service Cloud. Read our evaluation. Although the offering needs improvement in its analytic capabilities, The customer service capabilities of Salesforce Service Cloud address cross-channel customer service requirements for many B2B and B2C organizations in all geographies. Read our in-depth evaluation.


Salesforce provides a wide range of customer service capabilities: account management, case management, knowledge management, process management, internal communities, and social network management. Service Cloud is the Salesforce application that provides the case management capabilities and serves as the anchor for a collection of tightly integrated but variously packaged and priced features and additional applications that provide the rest.

All Salesforce CRM applications deploy on the hosted multi-tenant environment of the cloud-computing platform. manages the physical computing centers that host the deployments. The company offers subscription licenses for its CRM applications, application features, and add-ons.

Service Cloud was introduced as “Salesforce Service & Support” in 2004. Its current release is Winter ‘13, the release of the entire Salesforce CRM suite and one of its three, regular, annual releases. To date, claims that more than 34,000 customers have licensed Service Cloud.

The customer service capabilities of Salesforce Service Cloud Winter ’13 earn very good grades on our Report Card for Customer Service: exceeds-requirements grades in knowledge management, UI content management, and company viability; meets-requirements grades in search and product viability; and it needs improvement in analytic functionality.

The customer service capabilities of Salesforce Service Cloud address cross-channel customer service requirements for many B2B and B2C organizations in all geographies.

If your business is already a Salesforce Sales Cloud licensee, then Service Cloud could be your best fit.

Salesforce Knowledge at Blue Shield of California

Salesforce Knowledge at Blue Shield of California

© 2013 Blue Shield of California and Facebook

This illustration shows the Team Shield Facebook page for Blue Shield of California, a page where any Facebook user can ask questions of this San Francisco, CA-based health insurer.


Answer Customers’ Questions and Solve Customers’ Problems

Customer service products help businesses deliver answers to their customers’ questions and solutions to their customers’ problems. These are questions and problems about a business’s products and services, policies, processes, and practices, or about elements of their customer relationships such as accounts, bills, orders, and contracts. Customer service products also help create, manage, and resolve cases for customers’ questions that have not yet been answered and customers’ problems that have not yet been solved. Customer service products have case management, knowledge management, account management, and social network management capabilities. They deliver those capabilities across self-service, assisted-service, and social service channels.


Salesforce has three core CRM applications: Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, and Marketing Cloud, all built and implemented on a platform that provides a wide range of common, shared services and data. Service Cloud is Salesforce’s customer service application. It’s the product that businesses license and deploy to provide the foundation for building a comprehensive, cross-channel customer service experience that can also include a large collection of application features and additional applications, all to help answer customers’ questions, solve customers’ problems, and create, manage, and resolve cases.

Service Cloud, itself, provides case management and contact center capabilities. It supports case capture on contact center, web, email, and social channels. Service Cloud also has a desktop API for CTI.

As a Salesforce CRM application, Service Cloud bundles and leverages the common facilities and resources of the Salesforce CRM platform, adding capabilities for:

  • Account management through Account and Contact Objects and facilities for their creation, access, and management.
  • Analytics and reporting.
  • Search.
  • Internal user management.
  • Internal collaboration and limited collaboration with customers through the Salesforce Chatter application. Chatter collaboration includes group-based messaging, message following via subscriptions and notifications (Feeds), file sharing, and polls.

Businesses extend the customer service capabilities of Service Cloud by…


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