New Customer Service Apps On Tap From

The new software builds on the "Service Cloud" applications the company debuted in January and which now have more than 8,000 customers, said Kraig Swensrud, product marketing vice president at, in an interview.

While salesforce automation and CRM applications still make up the bulk of's revenue, the company has been expanding into cloud-computing platforms with its development system and into customer service with its Service Cloud applications.

The new applications being released under the banner of "Service Cloud 2" will particularly help businesses provide field services to their customers, said Stacey Epstein, marketing vice president at ServiceMax Inc., a Santa Clara, Calif.-based solution provider and channel partner.

"It's a whole area that needs to be automated," Epstein said. "It really extends our field service capabilities."

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ServiceMax sells's on-demand service applications to its clients, including IT equipment vendors, heavy equipment makers and suppliers of medical devices. They, in turn, use them to manage the field services they provide for their customers.

The Salesforce Knowledge application is based on customer call center technology the company gained through its $31.5 million acquisition of InStranet in August 2008. The multitenant "knowledge-as-a-service" application, which runs on the platform, helps customer service agents find information needed to resolve customer problems.

The application also can be used to make articles and other information sources available to customers on the Internet. Salesforce Knowledge will be available in the fourth quarter priced at $50 per month per service agent, Swensrud said.

Salesforce Answers, slated for availability in early 2010, helps businesses set up communities where customers can have question/answer-style conversations with each other and rate answers and advice posted to a Web site. Information can be filtered from Salesforce Answers into Salesforce Knowledge, when appropriate, and businesses can use the Answers service to set up communities on Facebook.

A third application, to be unveiled by Salesforce on Wednesday, Salesforce for Twitter, helps businesses tap into Twitter conversations about them and their products, leveraging the social networking site as an additional customer service channel, Swensrud said. That application is available immediately for free for the company's Professional, Enterprise and Unlimited Edition subscribers.

Epstein at ServiceMax said the Twitter application would help her company's customers uncover service issues.