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3/20/2009
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Salesforce.com Offers Twitter Customer-Service App

Comcast, Dell, and others will use the app to find and help customers who've turned to their social networks to solve product problems.

Salesforce.com is announcing Monday a CRM application for Twitter.

The app is intended to help companies find and assist customers who are more likely to look to the Twitter community to solve product problems than to call customer service.

Salesforce introduced this social networking approach to customer service with the unveiling of its Service Cloud in January. That was the renaming of its customer-service application line to include not just call centers, e-mail, and chat, but also an application to let companies find and help their customers with product issues on Facebook.

Now Salesforce is adding Twitter to Service Cloud. The idea is to let companies find and retain customers who are more likely to look to their social networking communities for help -- probably because they've had bad experiences with customer-service phone mazes and slow e-mail responses. Comcast Cable, Dell, and European telecom company Orange are among the Salesforce customers that have signed up for the Twitter app, the company said. They're using Twitter, of course, as a complement to more traditional methods of customer service.

From within Salesforce, customer-service agents can conduct searches for tweets on their products and companies, search a database for answers for customers, and monitor ideas and the "conversation level" on a certain topic or product being tweeted on Twitter. Salesforce says typical pricing is $995 a month for five agents and five business partners, and support for 250 customers.

The idea works particularly well for Salesforce because all of its offerings are provided as a cloud subscription service, says Alexandre Dayon, senior VP of product management at Salesforce.

"I think a lot of [software vendors] would like to do this, but they're not cloud native," Dayon said. "Most of our traditional competitors are stuck in walls of the call center."


InformationWeek Analytics has published an independent analysis of the challenges around setting business priorities for next-gen Web applications like Twitter. Download the report here (registration required).

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