Salesforce.com announced ServiceCloud earlier this month, billed as a "next generation platform for customer service," allowing companies to monitor and tap into customer conversations all over the web - i.e., Facebook, community blogs, message boards, twitter, etc.
It's an excellent innovation, and important on several dimensions:
- For companies, it's a badly needed interface to a social web that consumers are increasingly turning to discuss products and companies, a structured way of integrating traditional CRM and ad hoc initiatives on platforms like Twitter. It's also an opportunity to create a better experience, better brand, and stronger net promoters cores by delivering a new level of proactive customer support.
- For consumers, it offers a new opportunity to be heard and helped in their preferred avenue, and not forced through the company's preferred CS channels and painful 800 numbers, and reflects a shift in the balance of power from company to consumer.