Yesterday Salesforce.com unveiled its newest offering, desk.com, a complete rewrite of Assistly, a company and product that Salesforce bought last September. Desk.com completely replaces Assistly in the market and it is designed to be a light weight/light cost customer service solution for the SMB market. The idea has about as many legs as a millipede. Let me explain.
First, customer service is hard for any company but especially for an SMB, which naturally has fewer resources to draw on. Nonetheless, an SMB has to compete with companies much larger and with greater resources—that’s the down side of everybody looking alike sizewise on the Internet.
For the SMB, selling is comparatively easy. From a small hub any company can project to the greater world through search engine optimization, word of mouth and smart use of social media. Service happens in the opposite direction—from the outside in—so the SMB needs a good catcher’s mitt and an extremely efficient means of processing customer requests. Failure at customer service is one of those things that keeps small companies small or enables them to ramp up, which leads to the importance of desk.com.
The Assistly DNA is all over desk.com. Starting with the innovative business model in which a company can simply sign up to use the service to the creative pricing model that provides the first user at no charge, this is a solution that small business can get its arms around. I particularly like the Flex Hours approach that lets anyone in the organization use the system for a buck an hour rather than submit to the $49 monthly seat fee for an occasional user.
At the user level, desk.com is what you might expect a reasonably intelligent person to come up with if asked to design a service system that lets customers communicate to a vendor through social media. Through hash tags and @ signs customers signal their need for assistance and a streamlined dashboard in a browser enables the SMB personnel to respond.
Of course desk.com has a knowledgebase from which they can work. There is also good ability for lateral movement within the SMB so that a service person can send a request to someone within the organization to finalize the solution. And desk.com is native to Salesforce’s supported mobile devices so that a person delivering services can act even from a phone.
You’ll note that I am staying away from the concept of a service agent and that’s intentional. The emphasis on SMBs takes into account that everyone in a small business has the potential to act in a service capacity, which is the genesis of the pricing model.
So desk.com adds to the fleet of service and support applications within the Salesforce Service Cloud. Previously the company has targeted sales solutions for the SMB for instance with small company pricing and with its contact manager configuration. But those were largely packaging decisions and they were easy to accomplish. With desk.com, Salesforce has shown the same dedication to the SMB on the service side. It may not solve the whole customer service need but if it can help the SMB eliminate some of the more easily answered service calls that they receive it will have earned its keep. And at $49 per month, and a free first seat any SMB would be smart to check it out.