Salesforce introduces SOS button for customer support emergencies

big red button
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Reach out and touch your customers.

Sometimes, don't you wish you could just hit a button and get support?

Salesforce Service Cloud, cloud CRM giant Salesforce's customer service portal product, is trying to let its customers do just that. A new feature coming later this year, Service SOS, will let users of any supported mobile app for Apple iOS and Android to get personal support from a real human on the other end of a video call. 

It's similar to the Amazon Kindle Mayday button, which lets users of the consumer tablets get help from anywhere on their device in a pop-up. But unlike Amazon's help button, Salesforce Service Cloud is giving developers an SDK to enable the SOS function in any mobile application. Users click it when they're in need, and they get connected to a human agent who can not only see their screen, but annotate it with a simple line-drawing tool. It's all containerized and works only in the app that supports it, so there's no concern around an agent seeing something they shouldn't. 

In a demo, Salesforce demonstrated how a user of early Service SOS customer Inspirato, a luxury vacation club, might use the SOS button to get help finding the perfect activity to distract unruly children during a vacation to Hawaii. The agent walked through the list of activities and circled on the screen the age appropriateness of a parasailing offer. 

That luxury scene was on purpose: It's the luxury service industry that Robinson says he expects will be among the first customers. After all, for all our talk of personalized online experiences, there's very little that's actually more personal than interacting with another human.

As time goes on, Robinson says that he expects this will expand to more markets everywhere. A bank could use it to help customers understand their fees; a CIO could use it to help employees on a new mobile application get up and running. 

"This technology will be expected," says Robinson.

This is especially important when you consider how much customer service, or a lack thereof, affects the stickiness of a mobile app. A study cited by Salesforce claims that over 90 percent of mobile applications have insufficient customer service, causing them to stop using the service. 

"[Insufficient customer support] has a negative impact on the bottom line and on loyalty," Robinson says. 

This is the first major update to Salesforce Service Cloud since the launch of Salesforce1, and while Robinson says that it certainly would have been possible to do before the company completely revamped its underlying platform to be more mobile-friendly, the initiative certainly "inspired" Service Cloud to reconsider how to more effectively reach mobile customers. Transcripts and captures of every video conversation are attached to the corresponding customer record in Service Cloud, which is in turn synced with the core Salesforce CRM platform.

A beta of Salesforce Service Cloud Service SOS (oy) begins in June, with rollout to come later this year. A Salesforce Service Cloud subscription costs $65/user/month, with pricing for Service SOS to be determined when it actually comes out. 

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