Salesforce integrates Service Cloud with Twitter

Users can track and interact with customers through the popular social messaging service

Salesforce.com is working to integrate its Service Cloud customer-service platform with the popular messaging service Twitter, the company announced Monday.

Salesforce CRM for Twitter, now in beta, will be available this summer at no additional charge for Service Cloud users.

Launched in January, the Service Cloud combines concepts like online customer communities, social networking, knowledge base information, and making data from cloud services like Facebook and Twitter available to e-mail, phone and chat-based customer service representatives.

While there's nothing stopping a salesperson from simply using Twitter directly, the integration pulls relevant Twitter conversations into the Service Cloud and allows users to reply directly.

In a demonstration of the new capability, Salesforce.com showed how someone working for a telecom provider could spot and track a discussion about a headset that a user was having trouble with. The telecom worker could dig through their company's internal knowledge base and then send the Twitter user a link to a help document.

Salesforce is using the beta period to fine-tune the integration's performance and feel, according to a Salesforce.com spokesman.

One industry observer called Salesforce.com's move "incremental" but "interesting."

"Salesforce is showing that perhaps the best use of social networking is perhaps on the service side of CRM [customer relationship management] and not sales force automation," said Rebecca Wettemann, vice president, research, at Nucleus Research.

"The immediate advantage of this is for companies whose audience is teenage girls," she added. "They're constantly Twittering."

But before companies get enamored with the "next shiny thing," which could be Twitter, they need to mull over the potential return on investment, she said.

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