Desk.com: Playing a Leading Role in Saleforce’s SMB Story

desk logoDesk.com recently unveiled a new option for small and medium businesses (SMBs) to connect the sales and service experience. While the vendor announced free integrations with SalesforceIQ for SMBs last November, and with Salesforce Sales Cloud and Service Cloud via Desk Connect in October 2014, Desk.com’s new offering, Desk 360 adds opportunity management capabilities for service reps as part of the standard Desk.com service solution.

Aimed at helping SMBs differentiate and excel by providing a more holistic customer service experience, service reps using Desk.com can now proactively open up sales opportunities directly from their Desk.com accounts. The solution also gives service agents better visibility into customer information, including:

  • Improved customer and company views: Improved customer and company views give agents access to additional context about customers. Agents can easily set parameters, sort, filter and view a complete history of that particular customer. For example, when a customer contacts a service agent in a retail company about an incorrect shipment of furniture, the agent can check to see if that customer has experienced a similar issue in the past, in addition to seeing the latest case. This helps agents move beyond simply closing the case to personalizing the customer experience. For instance, in this scenario, the agent can resolve the current issue, and offer to free shipping on all new orders.
  • More complete reports on interaction history: New customer and company insights enable SMBs to run reports on company history, such as number of cases and the average response time per company. This gives them a more holistic of the overall company relationship. Armed with these insights, SMBs can adjust the service experience to improve every interaction and the overall customer experience.
  • Sales and service on the same platform: Enhanced opportunity management facilitates richer conversations and engagements between service agents and customers, so that agents can proactively suggest products or services that the customer is likely to need or appreciate. Agents can identify, open and even close sales opportunities. For example, if a customer calls a service agent at a catering company about an incomplete order, the agent can see that customer places a large order each month, and may offer to provide a discount on their next order.

This gives companies that don’t currently use sales CRM a way to create and automate the sales process as opportunities are identified. For companies already using SaleforceIQ or Salesforce Sales Cloud, the bi-directional link between Desk.com remains. In other words, sales people can continue on with either of these solutions, while service reps can start creating opportunities that connect and feed into these sales systems.

Putting Salesforce’s SMB Focus Into Focus

In 1999, Salesforce was a cloud pioneer, focused on capturing the underserved SMB market with a faster, easier, better and less expensive CRM solution. But, Salesforce’s story proved to be as compelling for larger companies, and the vendor gravitated to the higher value enterprise market over time. As it built out its products and sales organization for larger accounts, Salesforce’s story for SMBs got complicated and hard to follow.

However, Desk.com (formerly Assistly, acquired by Salesforce in 2011), managed to retain and build on its original SMB mission to give even the smallest companies a way to provide their customers with a better service experience. Now, as Salesforce has begun to refocus its overall SMB story (Does Salesforce’s Refreshed SMB Strategy Add Up?), Desk.com appears to be taking a leadership role in Salesforce’s reenergized SMB story.

This makes sense, as Desk.com positions itself as “Salesforce’s out-of-the-box helpdesk for small businesses,” and the majority of Desk.com’s customers are companies with less than 1,000 employees. Desk.com has been steadily adding service capabilities and integrations to make it easier for SMBs to improve the customer service experience. For instance, as cases come in, Desk.com assigns priorities based on rules that can be based on customer, company or case details–such as automatically promoting a case that comes up on Twitter to urgent, or if a case has been pending for more than one day. Desk.com has also made it easy for companies to create macros to reply to frequent types of requests, such as a lost password.

Beyond service functionality, Desk.com has also been building the integrations SMBs need to connect other areas of the business with support. In addition to the free integrations with SalesforceIQ and Salesforce Sales Cloud via Desk Connect, Desk.com provides 12 pre-built integrations to connect phone systems directly into Desk.com.

Perspective

If you believe, as I do, that customer service and support are becoming the ultimate differentiator, baking opportunity management into the core Desk.com service offering makes sense. As discussed in Cloud Is The New Normal for SMBs—But Integration Isn’t, integration is key for SMBs, who may adopt several cloud solutions, but lack the resources to integrate them, and end up frustrated that they don’t talk to each other. This new capability facilitates the natural connection between sales and service, which may be even more important for SMBs than for larger businesses, which can more easily compete on scale and price.

However, Desk.com is giving companies another choice when it comes to CRM. On the surface, choice is great. But Desk.com will need to educate customers to help them make the best choice. While the answer may be obvious for existing Desk.com customers, prospects will need guidance to get their “just right” solution. Will the new service opportunity management built into Desk.com suffice, or should they use it in conjunction with Salesforce CRM and/or SalesforceIQ? Desk.com will need to clarify where the capabilities overlap and where they don’t.

More broadly speaking, Desk.com also needs to elevate the conversation among SMBs about the importance of providing exceptional customer service. Unfortunately, SMBs improving customer experience and retention comes in at #4 in terms of SMBs’ top business goals, and customer service may not get the same priority as sales. Helping SMBs understand customers’ rising service expectations, how to meet or exceed them, and the critical link between service and repeat and referral sales is critical to fuel SMB uptake of customer service solutions.

Figure 1: Top SMB Business Challenges Slide1

That said, Desk.com’s newest move is yet another sign that its team is in the forefront of Salesforce’s new strategy and investments to accelerate growth in SMB, and will likely continue to play a pivotal role in moving these plans forward.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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