Salesforce.com today launched a new customer service offering, which integrates with Facebook, Google and other resources to help contact centre staff better support customers.
The Service Cloud, which is built on the company's Force.com platform, connects to social networking sites, community forums, blogs and other resources to gather data that can add to an organisation's knowledge base of support information.
The offering allows support staff to contact customers by phone, email and chat, and lets firms set up their own online communities where customers can interact with each other and answer queries.
Salesforce.com argued that building these active online communities will also ensure that a company's web site is one of the top results returned if a customer uses a web search to find the answer to a particular problem.
"The new generation of consumers trusts content created by peers. This consumer expectation that they can create answers and content as part of a community will lead businesses and other organisations to adopt similar techniques to succeed," said Gartner vice president Michael Maoz.
"Ultimately, organisations will have to change their singular emphasis on tools for agents to a broader strategy that also supports the role of community experts."
Salesforce.com rival NetSuite responded to the announcement by claiming that its own Customer Center portal has been offering more robust customer support capabilities for over eight years.
"We would like to welcome Salesforce.com to the world of internet customer interaction," said NetSuite vice president of international products, Craig Sullivan.
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