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Salesforce Brings Live Customer Service to Mobile Apps

By Paula Bernier June 25, 2015

Everybody knows how attached we all are to our smartphones and tablets, and how it’s become common to interact with the organizations with which we do business via mobile apps. But mobile apps frequently reveal their limitations when a customer needs to interface with a company representative to address the task at hand.

To initiate a call or other real-time interaction for customer service, people often have to leave the mobile app, try to remember the support number listed within that app, and then they have to begin their quest for an answer all over again with a rep who is not familiar with their situation.

That’s why Salesforce has introduced Service for Apps, which includes the ability to initiate and conduct chats, phone calls, and video sessions right within a mobile app.

This multifaceted solution also can deliver via the mobile app content such as how-to articles and FAQs on how to address common problems and inquiries. It provides the ability for customers to create and monitor their cases, use their cameras and locations to provide additional details, and receive a notification when their cases are resolved. These two features are called Knowledge for Apps, and Cases for Apps, respectively; Salesforce refers to the previously noted features under the Service for Apps umbrella as Chat for Apps, Tap-to-Call for Apps, and Salesforce SOS for Apps.

This last one, Salesforce SOS for Apps, delivers Amazon Mayday-type functionality. That includes the ability to easily initiate a video call with a customer service rep, with which customers can also do screen sharing. SOS, which Salesforce first unveiled a year ago in April, became generally available as of last week. Service for Apps, meanwhile, will be entering into private beta later this year.

Salesforce is sharing with reporters a demonstration in which a customer leverages a mobile app to change a ticket for train travel in Europe. Upon clicking on the mobile app, the customer is greeted by a handful of articles that offer details on how to do common tasks such as rebook travel. The app allows premium customers to choose the SOS concierge option to trigger a video interaction with an online rep so that person can change the train ticket for them. In this example, the concierge also shares with the customer a map on which the concierge draws directions to show how to get to the train station.

Sarah Patterson, vice president of marketing for Salesforce Service Cloud, notes all of the above address the fact that smartphones are proliferating (with 5 billion smartphones estimated to be on the market by 2017), the use of mobile apps is common (88 percent of the time people spend on mobile devices is spent in apps), that a good share of customer interactions take place via the mobile channel (that’s 20 to 40 percent of them, according to Gartner), and that fewer than 5 percent of customer service inquiries via mobile are concluded via that channel.

“This is truly service for the mouseless world,” she says, adding that Salesforce has been talking about the mobile evolution for a couple years, and having launched Service Cloud Mobile in February of 2013.

In other news from Salesforce today, the company unveiled an SDK called for Apps that is aimed at helping SMBs deliver fast customer service. This can also be embedded into mobile apps and includes the Cases and Knowledge features noted above.

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

Executive Editor, TMC

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