desk.com

  • July 1, 2015
  • Salesforce logoIt was gratifying for me to see the Salesforce announcement about the latest iteration of its SMB service desk product, Desk.com because it is so in-line with my thinking as well as my book, Solve for the Customer (I know, it’s a shameless plug). While I happily acknowledge that I advise the company from time to time, there is no causal relationship between the book and product, but sometimes, correlation is just fine. This is one of those times when correlation yields validation in both directions.

    Of course there’s a press release and you can find it at Salesforce.com because it is not my intention to regurgitate it here. I prefer to focus on one new function that draws my interest and shows the parallels I mentioned, Desk.com Customer Health Monitor. Billed as a category-first among service providers, the monitor does what I’ve been advocating with minor exceptions. It tracks metrics about customers that a vendor thinks are important and reports on them thus providing alerts that help to prevent churn or attrition.

    FYI, Zuora, another company I advise recently bought FrontLeaf to do much the same from a different angle. This idea is gaining traction.

    This approach amounts to managing by exception. A small company can’t afford the labor or even subscribe to the systems involved in constant customer outreach and this tactic focuses on what evidence shows are customers that need an intervention, perhaps by a customer success manager. All good.

    Now for some nits that need to be worked out—not in the product but methodologically. The big, and for many, hidden issue is knowing what you don’t know i.e. how does a business know what things to measure? An obvious example in the press release is what happens when a customer calls support twice in a month. Is this a sign of trouble or frustration and possibly a churn signal? It could be and the point of an alert is to call for further investigation, which leads to interrogating other metrics to triangulate the situation.

    For example, new customers getting up to speed will likely call in more than established customers so it’s best to correlate frequency with other factors like seniority and possibly also products in use—did the customer just install the latest upgrade?

    There are many iterations of all this and the simple point is that any company will first want to identify all of the situations that need monitoring and develop accurate metrics for them. I call the situations Moments of Truth, things that both vendor and customer care about and that must be addressed, moments of truth. So we must know our moments of truth before the rest of this makes sense.

    We can safely assume we know some of our Moments of Truth but that’s no longer enough. We need to know all of them or we’ll be missing things we can help with and that’s bad because successfully negotiated Moments of Truth lead to bonding which leads to customer advocacy. We really can’t have too much bonding so we need processes that find all of the Moments of Truth and instruments them via tools like the health monitor.

    Discovering Moments of Truth is likely a task for a future product release and probably other products like community and analytics. Using our brains to find the low hanging fruit will do just fine for now but suffice it to say there’s more to be done.

     

    Published: 2 years ago


    It’s only Tuesday but announcements are flying around San Francisco like electrons around a Uranium nucleus.  I am here for a few days as a guest of Oracle to receive a comprehensive briefing on the company’s products and directions (more on that soon) and if that was the only thing going on it would be substantial.  But today, Salesforce is making announcements that extend its marketing cloud with the addition of Social.com.

    Social.com further extends the company’s growing franchise in things named dot.com like Desk.com, Work.com, Data.com and, of course, Salesforce.com.  And while you’d expect the company that has led the social business revolution to eventually come out with something like this, you will be surprised to learn that Social.com is a social advertising platform that leverages the strengths of Radian6 for social listening and Buddy Media for social campaigns all integrated with the company’s flagship CRM to produce an advertising paradigm that stands Mad Men on its head.

    Where the ancient and honorable advertising paradigm has been unsolicited, one to many and relatively untargeted, the Salesforce Social.com approach is pretty much its opposite — engaging, transparent and targeted.  Just what the doctor ordered in an era when broadcast media in all its forms is in an economic death spiral (keep the media, FF the ads) and too many companies are still dipping a toe in the social waters rather than splashing around and learning to swim.

    This changes that.  Salesforce has an impressive array of customers already piloting the products, which are scheduled for GA in the Summer 2013 Release including Ford, General Electric, HP, Caterpillar, Burberry and Unilever.

    As I look at this, it strikes me that social advertising is nice but what still needs to be fleshed out is fulfillment.  It’s one thing to stoke demand with better targeting but it’s another to close the deal — otherwise, why bother?  This announcement alludes to the importance of integrating CRM to the process and I suspect this is not the end of the story.  There has to be a fulfillment piece that extends through CRM and ultimately connects with ERP and logistics — perhaps an alternative channel to ecommerce?  So this is an important announcement but it sets up additional announcements that could be even bigger.

    Over and out.

    Published: 5 years ago


    There’s been a lot of activity on the Web and in our industry in the last week and I thought it might be fun to try and tie at least some of it together.  Much of it in one way or another involves Facebook—or FB as the proposed ticker symbol suggests.

    Part of an email from John Borkowski of WebiMax reads:

    “Kenneth Wisnefski, online marketing expert, and founder / CEO of WebiMax, suggests Facebook will not be worth the investment.  “In the first few days of trading, I expect the stock price will soar due to social-media hungry investors,” states Wisnefski.  (We saw this with LinkedIn’s IPO).  “However, once the market absorbs the emotions and begins to invest based-on fundamentals, it is clear Facebook will not be a solid investment.”

    “Wisnefski refers to Facebook’s few revenue streams.  Given the fact that 85% of their revenue is dependent on ads, the company is not diversified enough to generate income from additional streams.  EMarketer reported that Facebook’s ad sales grew 104% in 2011, but are only expected to climb 58% in 2012, and 21% in 2013.  The diminishing growth stems from intense competition from Google and Bing and suggests advertising on Facebook may be – simply put – a fad.

    Facebook a fad?  You mean like CocaCola and cheeseburgers?  I wrote back:

    “Thanks for this information.  There’s a lot to agree with but I am not sure I agree with your conclusions.  In any investment scenario you have to consider the time horizon.  FB will be an interesting flip for those lucky enough to buy at the offering price and if history is a guide it will settle down as more value conscious investors refuse to pay the premium and pick it up after it settles.

    “Longer term you are right, the company has a structural issue with its markets but the thing your analysis omits is the potential the company has for growing new markets as well as for capturing share of what’s there already.  It’s risky in investments to take into account futures that are not even or barely imagined but I suspect that someone buying FB after the hoopla and who holds the stock for a number of years will discover they’ve bought the next Apple and they will be amply rewarded.

    Reasonable people can disagree.  They should too because I am not licensed to give financial advice—keep that in mind.

    Salesforce announced desk.com, a rewrite of Assistly on Force.com, which the company bought in September.  Desk.com is Salesforce’s entry into SMB support.  It’s quite a trick and I like the idea, especially the innovative pricing model, which is custom tuned to SMBs.  For more of my analysis, you can go here.

    Then there’s the broader world, there always is.

    In Friday’s New York Times (I should say that I will always be a Red Sox fan, but the Times rocks) there was a lead article that brought social media into the public square for the second time in a couple of weeks.  The breast cancer advocacy organization (I guess that’s really anti-breast cancer if you want to get technical) Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation announced it was no longer funding breast exams through Planned Parenthood.

    A viral digital uproar ensued.

    Apparently the Komen people were getting nervous about being singled out for supporting Planned Parenthood by Republican presidential candidates and their mysterious Super PACs that Mitt Romney seems to think are people too.  There’s precedent for this case of jitters.  Look what happened to the community-organizing group, Acorn, in the last election when it was linked to that radical socialist Barak Obama.

    But four years is a long time in politics and it is practically a geological era in tech.  Four years later we have FB, Twitter, LinkedIn as mature products and as I wrote recently, ordinary people are regaining a sense of the commons and commonwealth as a result.  The people have their soapbox now.  It’s electronic, digital, mobile and global.

    And speaking of global, back in the Middle East Iran actually tried to rebrand Arab Spring for its own purposes.  In a ham-handed effort reported in the Times, “More than a thousand young activists were flown here earlier this week (at government expense) for a conference on “the Islamic Awakening,” Tehran’s effort to rebrand the popular Arab uprisings of the past year.

    Didn’t work.  Not even close.  Thumbs were typing and unless the clerics in Teheran wise up they could be next.

    Finally, by now the Super Bowl is old news but as I write it, everything is in the future.  One thing that’s not in the future and which is again brought to us by a combo of social media and YouTube are the Super Bowl ads, which started leaking out weeks ago.  Another article from the Times  discusses them and more importantly, references many a big agency that brought them to life.  It seems you can’t swing a proverbial dead cat without finding some social media expert these days.

    Good on them all.  What did we do before social media?  It’s now embedded in our lives with no sign of going back.  It’s certainly made our lives richer and more productive and it’s brought us together on important issues.  But now we need to stay vigilant to prevent it from being completely co-opted.  The attempt to rebrand Arab Spring might have been ham-handed but it could happen anywhere.  And as far as the FB IPO naysayers are concerned, we’ll have to wait and see.  But I’ll sleep well.

    Published: 6 years ago