Salesforce brings smarter in-app service help to mobile, web

Profile picture for user pwainewright By Phil Wainewright May 25, 2016
Salesforce launches toolkits today that will make it easier to deliver live in-app service, bringing connected customer service directly into mobile and web

Salesforce Service Cloud SOS 2way video 370px
Salesforce today launches a toolkit that will help businesses deliver smarter in-app service help to their customers within mobile and web apps. Called 'snap-ins', the new capabilities will allow customers experiencing problems to find relevant documents or connect to a live service agent without having to open a new app or web page. As Carl Dempsey, VP solution engineering at Salesforce, explains:

More and more products come with an app these days. Very few of them provide you with a service resolution right there and then. If you click on help, you have to fill out a form or it gives you a phone number to call.

If you're in the app, you want help there and then.

Organizations will now be able to integrate Service Cloud capabilities such as case management, knowledgebase, agent text chat and two-way video chat directly into online and mobile applications. Because of the integration to Service Cloud, the functions are contextually aware, so for example the knowledgebase snap-in surfaces content that's relevant to what the user is doing in the app, and when the live text or SOS snap-in connects to an agent, the agent has the customer's record in front of them.

Snap-in functionality

In theory, businesses could already have built this functionality into their apps — Intuit has had a million hits on the SOS button it added to its popular TurboTax tax filing service last year — but the snap-in functionality just makes it a whole lot easier to do this now, so a lot more companies will be able to go ahead and do it. Dempsey says:

We've been delivering frictionless service experience for a long time now and this is the next evolution.

We're taking the power of the Service Cloud and allowing you to snap it directly into your web site or your mobile apps and bring those benefits right to the customer where they are.

Some functions were previously available in separate SDKs but only for mobile applications, says Dempsey.

They were all on separate SDKs and initially we assumed they would be mobile only. The feedback from customers was they wanted to extend that out to the website and web apps as well.

So it's consolidating it in a single SDK and putting it on web apps as well as mobile.

We've just wanted to make it faster to get this stuff out. More and more companies are using customer experience as a component of competitive advantage — you've got to give the next wow factor in customer service.

Two-way video help

A new feature is the uprating of the SOS functionality to add two-way video. SOS adds a button to the app which allows the customer to call for live help. By adding two-way video, a customer using a smartphone with built-in camera, and the agent who responds, can each see each other. The customer will also be able to use the smartphone’s front-facing camera to show the agent the problem they are facing — for example, a rip in a newly purchased item of clothing — giving the agent the information needed to understand the issue quickly and find a resolution.

This functionality is especially powerful for smaller businesses such as Dutch apparel vendor Suitsupply, which has had early access to the technology. The two-way video will allow its stylists to consult with customers more effectively, believes Dempsey.

I can literally be in the app, click on the SOS, and show the support rep the problem. It's just more immediate and you get to the answer faster.

It's the democratization of software. Any one of our customers can do it. Suitsupply is quite a small operation but they can do this. It enables them to put some really killer features into their mobile app.

Salesforce expects the snap-in functionality will also be useful for field service technicians or other outbound employees such as sales people. Another early access customer, Stanley Healthcare, which provides care systems for senior living communities, plans to use the technology to help caregivers and field service technicians in their work as well as patients themselves. Dempsey says:

This connected experience isn't about connecting point to point. You've got patients, healthcare professionals, family — in healthcare and life sciences, you need to have all these stakeholders connected together around the patient experience.

It's about bringing everyone together to maximise the experience for whoever the stakeholder is.

My take

Another step towards delivering a frictionless experience to customers. Why force people to move from one app to another if they need help? Integrating the entire customer experience, including in-app service resolution when things go wrong, just makes sense.

This doesn't come cheap, though. Based on the pricing announced today, the add-on license fees for live chat and knowledgebase or SOS on top of an enterprise license doubles the per user cost. There needs to be a significant added value to justify that kind of investment.

So while high-end consumer propositions and high-value B2B offerings will benefit from this kind of functionality, don't expect this kind of capability just yet when you're buying low-margin products such as travel tickets or groceries. Frictionless customer experience is on its way, but it's apparently not yet a mass market proposition.