Salesforce, Cisco Take Customer Service To Cloud

The jointly developed Customer Interaction Service, slated for launch in the first quarter of 2010, weaves together's Service Cloud 2 offering with Cisco's Unified Contact Center Enterprise software. From this collaboration comes a service that lets SMBs handle customer service functions with the efficiencies that the cloud offers.

The on-premise software model for customer service has proven too costly for SMBs, but Cisco and Salesforce are betting that cloud-based customer service will remove this barrier. Salesforce and Cisco also believe the addition of social media elements will also allow companies to react quickly to customer issues.

"Customers have a strong desire to deploy services rapidly and then grow and shrink capacity as their fortunes vary. The SaaS model plays into that nicely," said Ross Daniels, director of unified communication solutions marketing for Cisco, San Jose, Calif.

Last month, Salesforce rolled out an on-demand knowledge database for customer service representatives and an application for using online communities to help customers solve problems, releasing both under the banner of Service Cloud 2.

Sponsored post

One Service Cloud 2 element, called Salesforce for Twitter, lets companies keep track of customer service-related discussions taking place on Twitter. This direct line of communication with customers hasn't been available in the past, but it's an example of where Cisco and Salesforce see things going in the customer service space.

Customer service organizations have evolved from phone calls, then to emails, and social media is the next step in that progression, Daniels said.

"Social media is the next channel through which we see customers using for help," he said. "The processes of contact centers can be integrated into the cloud. We don't believe the traditional contact center is going away, just that it needs to be augmented," said Daniels.

Cisco has been working with Salesforce on a common vision for the evolving customer contact model, and Daniels says the partnership has been helped by the companies' shared philosophy on where the market is headed.

"They bring to the table important technology in the form of the Service 2 Cloud, and they're a nice fit with our telephony infrastructure and contact center software applications," Daniels said.