Salesforce.com And Radian6 - What Does It Mean For Customer Service?

Today, salesforce.com announced the intent to acquire Radian6, a leader in the social media monitoring space. You can find the details of the definitive agreement here. What I want to focus on is what this acquisition means to customer service.

  •  First, the social listening vendor landscape is crowded and ripe for consolidation. Salesforce.com has just picked off the best vendor in this category of vendors, according to a recent Forrester Wave™ report. Radian6 helps salesforce.com extend its core customer service capabilities to the social channels like Facebook and Twitter, which are becoming increasingly important for companies looking to offer a differentiated customer service experience. This is not the first acquisition of this type; however, it is the most significant one, based on salesforce.com's market share and customer base. Expect to see similar acquisitions by CRM and customer service vendors in the future.
     
  • Listening platforms have little value if you cannot act on the information that you collect. In addition, social customer service is not a standalone capability, disconnected from the customer service that a company offers to its customers over the traditional communication channels like voice, email, and web self service. The social channels are an extension of core customer service, and the business processes that a company uses to service its customers must be aligned over ALL channels to enhance the company’s brand value. Salesforce.com believes this model, as seen by its acquisition. Radian6 lets salesforce.com listen to, for example, tweets or Facebook posts, separate the noise from the actionable insights, and route the insights to the right organization within a company where they can be addressed. In the case of an inquiry or a complaint, the issue can be routed to a customer service agent who can address it according to company policy and via the most appropriate communication channel.
     
  • This acquisition solidifies Salesforce.com's customer service capabilities. It allows companies to offer customer service across traditional communication channels like email and chat, as well as over the newer social channels such as Facebook and Twitter. It allows customer service agents to understand interactions that their customers have had across ALL supported traditional and social channels. It also allows your agents to understand the social profile of your customer. Using this collective data, agents can deliver a more consistent and personalized experience to their customer base in an effort to increase their lifetime value and loyalty.

This is a solid move for salesforce.com, which is heavily invested in building out its customer service capabilities, as evidenced by all the new features available in its Service Cloud 3, announced earlier this month.

Listening platforms are here to stay. Companies must use listening platforms in conjunction with traditional enterprise feedback via surveys to understand the needs and issues experienced by their customer base. They also need to be able to act on this feedback and close the loop with the provider of the feedback. However, the verdict is out as to whether customer service via Facebook or Twitter, a mode that salesforce.com seems heavily invested in, will truly be adopted by companies.

Comments

Beyond Customer Services

I'd agree wholeheartedly with the three points you make - but I think the big takeaway from yesterday's acquisition is that listening and engagement can no longer be considered the domain of marketing, PR and customer services. As an integral part of an end-to-end customer engagement programme, every department will now need to understand what it means to truly engage with customers - and that can only be a positive step for consumers. I've posted my take on this here: http://oursocialtimes.com/index.php/2011/03/what-salesforce-coms-acquisi...

You are right

Yes, I agree - the customer experience challenge is not limited to one oprganizational silo within a company. It is not the responsibility of just the marketing department, or just the customer service department. It is a top-down initiative that needs to be aligned across all organizations. It will be interesting to see whether Salesforce.com uses Radian6 just for their service cloud, or for other offerings.

Absolutely. C-level execs

Absolutely. C-level execs need to initiate the internal changes, but I might go so far as to say it's a "bottom up" initiative because, ultimately, it's the customer who's driving change.

Thank you

Thank you for sharing our exciting news! You are spot on about there still being questions, but this leaves the door open for opportunity. We are looking forward to your analysis and what this year will deliver.

Lauren Vargas
Community Director at Radian6
@VargasL