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Summary

Salesforce has announced an enhancement to its Service Cloud platform that adds dynamic distribution of work items – in the form of actionable cases – to contact center agents based on a wide range of criteria. The move highlights an ongoing trend in contact centers for greater reliance on CRM platforms to drive digital agent–customer interactions.

Intelligence Engine provides simple solutions to complex problems

Later in 2015 Salesforce will add a new feature, Service Cloud Intelligence Engine, to its customer service platform. This toolset will include two new modules that use data analysis to improve the ways that contact center agents handle customer service interactions. Intelligent business process capabilities will dynamically assign cases (or any pieces of work) to agents based on complex criteria such as skills, customer/case history, or the communication channel chosen by the customer (for example: email, web, phone, video chat, or SMS). Intelligence Engine will handle the workflow routing, as well as other criteria-triggered actions such as escalating a case. Salesforce’s differentiator here is that it is elevating non-voice contact channels to the level of automation and control that voice has traditionally had. (Intelligence Engine is not a voice routing product.)

Intelligent workload management capabilities will make it easier for agents to prioritize pieces of work by taking into account their capacity, current workload, and the priority of the channel. The feature set also enables agents to explicitly set their state as online ready for work, busy, or offline to ensure that work is pushed only when they are available. This means that agents do not have to go to a list to pull their next piece of work, but can have it pushed to them when they are ready.

Salesforce is also including a new way to manage the context of multichannel customer interactions. The seamless omnichannel customer view preserves the continuity of the customer’s experience by letting them switch from one channel to another without having to re-identify themselves or repeat their situation to different agents. For example, an agent could seamlessly escalate a customer from a web, email, or social channel to a real-time web chat or voice call to resolve a question or issue.

Process control and automation has been a keen desire of many contact center practitioners, but the solutions have historically been largely premise-based and somewhat expensive, and have required custom integrations at several levels. Although Intelligence Engine will not be generally available until later in 2015, the prominent placement of these features inside Service Cloud makes it likely that a critical mass of businesses will be able to optimize their multichannel support at a reasonable cost and in a timely way.

For multichannel customer interactions, the center of gravity of the service software environment is shifting away from the legacy call routing and telephony vendors and toward the more nimble cloud and CRM companies.

Appendix

Further reading

SWOT Assessment: Salesforce1 Platform, IT0022-000230 (March 2015)

“Salesforce Desk.com helps small businesses with global ambitions,” IT0020-000095 (February 2015)

“Salesforce delivers an improved mobile self-service experience with SOS for apps,” IT0020-000062 (October 2014)

Author

Keith Dawson, Principal Analyst, Customer Engagement

keith.dawson@ovum.com

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