Salesforce gives Service Cloud a shot of data science

New features aim to help companies be smarter in customer interactions

Salesforce Service Cloud Intelligence Engine

Salesforce Service Cloud Intelligence Engine

Data-science and analytics capabilities are popping up with increasing frequency in enterprise applications of virtually every shape and size, and Salesforce's CRM platform is no exception. Barely a week after adding a new predictive decision-making feature to its Marketing Cloud, it's now added a new Intelligence Engine for Salesforce Service Cloud that's designed to improve how service reps interact with customers.

A new Intelligent Business Processes feature, for example, allows companies to dynamically assign cases to agents based on skill set, case history, presence or the particular communication channel through which the case was born.

Using workflow automation, the feature can also trigger any business process, such as escalating cases beyond the support department to sales or marketing. Particularly promising sales leads, for example, can be distributed to the top-performing teams or individuals equipped to upsell.

Intelligent Workload Management, meanwhile, allows companies using Service Cloud to automatically distribute and manage agent workload in response to demands for multichannel support. Specifically, rather than relying on a manual process to fill an agent's queue with cases, Intelligent Workload Management will automatically distribute cases to agents based on their expertise and current workload. If an agent is involved in a video chat consultation, for instance, Service Cloud will temporarily suspend pushing cases to that agent.

Finally, Salesforce's new Seamless Omni-Channel Customer View is designed to ensure that customers can start a conversation on one channel and transition to another without having to continuously re-identify themselves, rehash the problem or bring a new agent up to speed.

So, a customer with an open email case who then requests a video chat will automatically be routed to the same agent who was handling the case previously.

The new capabilities are not only a way to figure out the best way to address a particular customer's needs at a given point in time, said Denis Pombriant, managing principal at Beagle Research Group. Rather, they go further than that to allow businesses to tailor their customer-facing processes, he said.

"Vendors might crave transactions -- i.e., getting a deal -- but customers really need process, because process is what educates them both about their own needs and about vendor capabilities," Pombriant explained. "Using marketing analytics to identify exact customer needs from a variety of data sources provides the vendor with an automated approach to first understanding the customer and then to prescribing the right solution."

Such functionality is missing from a lot of automated systems, many of which "focus on transactions but forget about process," he said.

Service Cloud is priced at $135 per user, per month. The new Intelligence Engine feature will be generally available later this year; pricing is yet to be announced. Salesforce customers interested in joining a pilot program should contact their account executive.

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