Salesforce.com has introduced Salesforce CRM for Twitter, a new social media application.
Twitter, for the uninitiated, is a free platform that lets people send out messages of no more than 140 characters to as broad a community as they can build. The posts, or “tweets,” as they’re known, can cover any topic area. Tweets initially were prompted by Twitter’s question, “What are you doing?” However, they have since morphed, with many answering the question, “What are you thinking about?” People use Twitter to share articles, talk about their own lives, discuss industry trends — and, yes, gripe about products and services.
An addition to the Service Cloud offerings Salesforce.com introduced in January, CRM for Twitter allows users to search, monitor and join Twitter conversations directly in the Service Cloud.
After identifying an appropriate tweet, a company can capture and monitor the conversation by creating a record in the Service Cloud that tracks the original post, as well as all subsequent replies. The application also allows the company to actively participate by funneling responses from the Service Cloud knowledge base into a Twitter post.
A typical use case would be a company monitoring comments about its products or services. It could opt to just listen in, or it could enter a conversation in the hope of preventing a complaint from going viral.
Salesforce.com has already connected its CRM application to Facebook and Google Apps. Twitter, though — just by virtue of the massive messaging that flows through the system — is probably its biggest Web 2.0 coup.
“It is an interesting development for Salesforce.com and the CRM industry in general,” said Chris Fletcher, an analyst with AMR Research.
“Twitter is still early days for commercial applications, but it is clearly one of the top social networking tools companies have to harness if they want to respond rapidly to market trends,” he told CRM Buyer.
CRM and Twitter
Surprisingly — given Salesforce.com’s track record of being first in the industry to jump on Web 2.0 trends — SAP was the first vendor to incorporate Twitter into a CRM application, Paul Greenberg, author of CRM at the Speed of Light, told CRM Buyer.
“SAP has one that they don’t talk about as much,” he said.
SAP’s application leverages its SAP CRM platform and Business Objects Insight to analyze and then integrate the relevant Tweets for a user. Business rules and workflows then trigger the company’s response, he explained. “For instance, a business rule might [require that] a comment that ranks 6 out of 10 in anger be automatically routed to someone in the company to handle the complaint.”
More CRM vendors are bound to follow SAP and Salesforce.com’s lead, said Greenberg.
Service integration with social media such as Twitter helps companies gain more accurate information about their customers — information that is based on what they are actually saying and not what an analytics application thinks they are saying, he added.
The application — and others like it — is a reflection of the growing trend for consumers to access the Web for information about products, Rebecca Wettemann, VP of research at Nucleus Research, told CRM Buyer. “Consumers do not automatically go to customer service for answers — in fact, they are more and more unlikely to do so.”
Instead, they search Google, where the well-trafficked Tweets often come up high on the search.
Built on the Force.com platform, the Service Cloud includes Force.com Sites, Force.com for Facebook, and more than 100 customer service extensions on the Force.com AppExchange for chat, field service and CTI (computer telephony integration).
Using it, companies can create an online customer community with unlimited usage for up to 250 customers, set up a contact center with up to five agents, connect with native cloud computing sites like Facebook, Google and Twitter, and invite up to five partners to participate in the Service Cloud.
Salesforce CRM for Twitter is scheduled to be available on the Force.com AppExchange in this summer.