Richard Snow's Analyst Perspectives Helping Organizations Achieve Customer Excellence

Posted by Richard Snow on Mar 12, 2013 10:46:04 AM

I recently wrote that was a vendor to watch during 2013, and during a recent briefing I heard more messages that support this view. First there was confirmation about financials. Even though the company is only 14 years old and the overall economy is not exactly booming, revenues for 2012 were up 35 percent to $3.05 billion, with Europe matching this with a 37 percent year-on-year growth. This not only shows the company is here to stay, but that the cloud is now well and truly established as a delivery model.

In the same post I said Salesforce intended to push harder as a platform provider, tying companies even more into working with it. These efforts seem to be paying off, as I learned more companies are committing to more of the complete platform rather than to individual products. In response to the ever-increasing demand from customers to access systems and organizations on the move, Salesforce announced new mobile features in Service Cloud that support both internal collaboration and collaboration with customers. Service Cloud Touch allows mobile agents, or indeed any mobile employees, to collaborate with anyone handling an interaction to try and ensure the best experience and business outcome. Customers can now chat with agents from their smart mobile devices to help resolve issues, customers and agents can now co-browse websites, and there are additional features that extend cloud communities so customers can connect with experts regardless of the location of either party.

It was during the second half of the briefing that the biggest surprise occurred. I, and the rest of the world, have become familiar with’s drive to create the “social enterprise,” a concept that has never sat comfortably with me. In a subtle but for me significant move, the company has shifted the message to how to become a “customer company.” Salesforce says companies are disconnected with their customers and other channels to market, including partners. The common theme is that too many companies focus on internal processes and metrics and don’t focus on the customer. The Salesforce answer is to connect with customers in a different way – engage through multiple channels, listen to customers through multiple channels, service customer anywhere, sell as a team, create social communities, stay connected with partners, join up products and services, and support customers accessing information anywhere via smart mobile apps. This aligns more closely with my concept of the “collaborative enterprise” and much of the thinking behind my recent post about the 2.0 world. For me it brings the Salesforce messaging more into the real world. The Salesforce platform supports many of the capabilities to enable this different way of connecting with customers, though companies still face major challenges cleaning up their enterprise-wide customer data and linking any given transaction, say a phone call, to the customer that just tweeted about the company.

The new messaging ties in nicely with the insights I discovered vr_db_top_five_goals_for_improving_customer_servicein my recent research into the agent desktop. It shows the top goal for companies is to enable customers to communicate through multiple channels, and that highly customer-centric companies have deployed systems to enable anyone handling interactions to collaborate in resolving customers’ issues. As I highlighted in my 2.0 world post, a practical way for companies to meet these goals is to deploy a smart desktop system that makes life easier for anyone involved in customer-facing activities. Salesforce might not market it that way, but such a desktop is at the core of Service Cloud, so it is one of the potential ways companies can support their efforts to become more customer-centric.

I am not as convinced as many commentators that “the customer is king,” but I do know that the 2.0 customer is making life more difficult for companies. Staying connected and employing collaboration are two ways companies can meet customers’ expectations. Once more Salesforce is leading the way in supporting companies meeting these new demands.


Richard J. Snow

VP & Research Director

Topics:, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Desktop Analytics, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Text Analytics

Richard Snow

Written by Richard Snow

Richard leads Ventana Research’s Customer and Contact Center Performance Management research practice, which is dedicated to helping organizations improve the efficiency and effectiveness of managing their customers, throughout their lifetime and across all touch points, including the contact center. He conducts research exploring the people, process, information and technology issues behind customer operations management, contact center management, and customer experience management. He also works with senior business operations and IT managers to ensure that companies get the best performance from today’s highly complex application products. Richard has worked in management and consulting leadership positions in the technology industry including with Price Waterhouse, Sema Group and Valors. In his work, he has been involved with all aspects of delivering highly complex IT solutions to a variety of clients in the telecommunications, financial services and public sectors. Richard has specialized in delivering customer care and billing solutions for telecommunications operators, and several multi-channel contact centers for organizations in both the public and private sectors.