Salesforce.com's Purchase of Assistly Signals Importance of Social Support

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Just last week I wrote about the growing importance of offering customer service that spans multiple channels. Today customers want to communicate with companies via the channels that work best for them -- and what works best will vary, based on the transaction, the time of day and numerous other factors. They use the telephone, email and newer entrants like online chat and social media.


Social media accounts for a relatively tiny sliver of support interactions, with just under 2 percent of respondents to an EConsultancy survey citing Facebook or Twitter as a preferred customer service channel. Still, 9 percent had asked a question of a brand via Facebook and 6 percent on Twitter, and these numbers seem sure to grow. An increasing number of companies are beefing up their social support capabilities, including T-Mobile, which I wrote about several weeks ago.


Signaling its opinion that social support will play an important role in CRM moving forward, Salesforce.com just purchased social customer service SaaS startup Assistly for $50 million in cash. According to TechCrunch, Assistly helps companies consolidate and organize all of their customer conversations into a prioritized task list, offering capabilities to filter conversations, access customer histories, automate processes and tap into social media conversations on Facebook, Twitter and other sites.


Salesforce.com, which started out selling to small businesses but then quickly moved into enterprises, also believes Assistly will help it win more SMB customers. As V3.co.uk reports, customers can actually choose to pay for the cloud-based service by the hour, so they can increase help desk staff during periods of heavy usage and scale back at other times.


Commenting on Assistly's strengths, Gartner analyst Jenny Sussin mentioned its ability to integrate Twitter and Facebook with contact agent dashboards and bring posts made on social networks right into the dashboards.


If companies really want to capitalize on their customer relationships, they'll want a more comprehensive social CRM strategy that not only integrates social media interactions into workflows but allows companies to analyze data gleaned from those interactions to learn more about customer behavior and tweak their product and service strategies accordingly. IT Business Edge's Loraine Lawson recently shared SnapLogic CEO Gaurav Dhillon's three-step battle plan for integrating social media data into enterprise systems and BI tools.