Releases Tools For Embedding Advanced Customer Service Functionality Into Mobile Apps unveiled on Thursday a set of development tools to enable companies to almost instantly embed advanced customer service features directly into the mobile apps they make available to their customers.

The new features are aimed at making it much easier to allow customers interacting remotely with the Salesforce Service Cloud to directly contact support agents by phone or video, get immediate help documentation within the apps, and start and track cases addressing any of their concerns.

"We're really enabling any company to put mobile at the heart of their customer experience," said Sarah Patterson, senior vice president of Service Cloud product marketing.

[Related: Salesforce SOS Button Enables VARs To Offer White-Label Technical Support]

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The first component of the service capabilities is SOS for Apps, a mobile help button released last year and generally available as of last week, according to Patterson.

The features revealed this week fall into a suite called Service for Apps that Salesforce is releasing in private beta.

The Service for Apps package is made up of four tools for embedding specific capabilities: Chat for Apps, allowing instant video messaging with a service agent; Tap-to-Call for Apps, enabling a quick call to phone support; Knowledge for Apps, making articles and help documents available to users within the app; and Cases for Apps, which allows customers to create and monitor service cases.

The world will have 5 billion smartphones by 2017, Patterson said, and research firm Gartner estimates that 20 percent to 40 percent of customer interactions are happening on mobile devices.

"As we shift to a world of apps, companies are focused on creating engaging experiences. But most companies have failed to make service part of their mobile experience," Patterson told CRN.

Customer service has become a greater differentiator than brand and product, she added. Businesses not providing a satisfying service experience are missing opportunities to win new customers and keep existing ones.

The functionality has three defining traits -- it must be instant, contextual and connected, Patterson said.

That means the service apps integrate all the data they know about the customer from the company's customer relationship management system.

As customer engagement increasingly takes a mobile bent, the functionality represents Salesforce's continued investment in facilitating mobile portals for its users.

Service for Apps is part of an evolution for Salesforce products that started back in 2013 with Service Cloud Mobile, which tried to make Web apps accessible in a mobile Web browser. In April of last year, SOS, enabling a one-way live video chat with an agent, was introduced in a limited release.

Salesforce is going to market with SOS through the company's direct sales channel, although Patterson told CRN that partners will be included in the discussions with their current customers.

"Our sales team knows when to pull in those partners to help with implementation," she said.

Andi Giri, managing director of the Salesforce practice at Softsquare, a solution provider in Silver Spring, Md., told CRN he believes the service features will ultimately create channel opportunities.

Giri compared the new capabilities to Salesforce1 Lightning, a set of tools that partners are using to integrate external data from legacy systems to their customers' CRM platforms.

The new Service Cloud tools will further help partners "to build the same kind of functionality as AppExchange apps."

But beyond that, Giri said, he needs to hear more about the new product.

"We are expecting more news about these apps at Dreamforce in September," he told CRN.