Desktop software is sold "by the seat." But a "by the hour" pricing structure offered by cloud-based apps means smaller businesses can put everyone on customer support--even the CEO or the weird guy clinging to his red stapler.
Customers are increasingly expecting to get help from companies through social media, like Twitter and Facebook, in addition to traditional channels like phone, email, and web. That's whySalesforce is launching a new application, called Desk.com, aimed at small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).
Desk.com expands on the suite of social applications for large enterprises that Salesforce launched last summer. Built on technology from Assistly, which Salesforce acquired last fall, Desk.com lets SMBs manage requests for help wherever they start from--Facebook, phone, Twitter, web. It also has a mobile component, so staffers can support their customers even when they're out of the office.
But what's equally interesting is Desk.com's pricing structure. They have the standard "per seat" model ($49 per agent after the first seat, which is free). But they also have a "per hour" model for what they call "casual" customer support reps.
Alex Bard, the former CEO of Assistly who is now vice president and general manager of Desk.com, tells Fast Company said.
"We realized that small and medium sized businesses might have a small customer service department, but, really, everyone in the company is doing support."
He gave the example of a clothing company. A customer might post a note to Facebook with a complaint about a pair of pants. The company's primary customer service agent might initially field the ticket. But they might also forward it to the product manager. The product manager might then pick up the phone to talk the customer, not just to help resolve the immediate problem, but also because, by hearing what's not working with the current line of pants, they might get good ideas for the next batch.
For staffers like the product manager, who only do customer service a small part of the time, Desk.com offers "flex" pricing at $1 per hour.
Bard said, but only pay for casual support reps' actual usage.
"That enables companies to create accounts for everyone in the system."
Such innovations are possible now that more and more software is being served in the cloud. With desktop applications, software companies by definition had to sell by the seat. But with a cloud-based application, like Desk.com, which can track actual usage, companies like Salesforce can develop more innovative pricing structures based on real-world use--thus making them more affordable to a larger range of SMBs with smaller budgets.
How It Works
Customer Story: Bonobos
Customer Story: Clear Channel
- Social - Connect to your customers on Facebook and Twitter as easily as on traditional support channels like email, phone and web. Desk.com organizes all of your support in one place so you can respond efficiently wherever your customers reach out.
- Simple - Desk.com is so simple to use that any company, even one without an IT staff, can get up and running in no time. It’s so intuitive that your team can get right to work without extensive training.
- Mobile - Manage your customer service system effortlessly with Desk.com Mobile. Give every employee in your company an “on the go” social help desk so they can support your customers any time, anywhere.
- Affordable - Any business can afford Desk.com. Your first full-time Agent is always FREE, and Flex Agents can use Desk.com as much as they want for only $1 per hour. Get started for free with no commitments.
- No Contract - Desk.com is committment free. You can cancel anytime.
Desk.com is ready as soon as you create an account. With only four required fields, a company can register for its own social help desk in a matter of seconds. Customers report that they are able to get up and running in a day or a weekend. You'll have your entire company on board in no time.
- Connect Desk.com - It's a snap to connect your business to Desk.com so your team can get busy supporting customers. In just a few clicks you can add your support mailbox, Twitter, Facebook and other support channels.
- Creating Your Support Team - Expand customer service to include everybody in your company, and make it possible for everybody to get closer to customers. Whole Company Support puts the customer at the center of your organization.
- Getting Started Tools - Desk.com's step-by-step ebook, Getting Started with Desk.com, accompanied by short, instructive videos, gets your Agents up and running. Need any advice? Our support team is here to help.
Desk.com helps your company engage customers socially. View all of your support channels (Twitter, Facebook, phone, email, chat) in one easy-to-use desktop so that wherever your customer needs help, you can be there to respond from anywhere at any time.
- Social (Facebook/Twitter) - In less than five clicks, you can easily connect your Facebook and Twitter accounts to the Desk.com Agent Desktop. Provide support from one unified inbox so you can start responding to customer service requests all from Desk.com.
- Email - Desk.com monitors your email accounts and automatically creates cases. By managing your email with Desk.com’s real time Agent, you and your team can coordinate responses to ensure customers receive a single, consistent answer.
- Chat - Set up a chat form so your customers can talk directly with your support Agents. Easily add and customize your chat button anywhere on your existing website so you provide real time support to your customers.
- Phone - Add your company phone number just like mailboxes and social network accounts. Turn any incoming or outgoing call into a case and follow it through the system as efficiently as other customer queries.
The best kind of support is support that's not required at all. Seventy-two percent of customers prefer to answer their own questions, on their own schedule. Your customers can find accurate answers 24/7, so satisfaction goes up and ticket volume goes down.
- Branding - Help your customer feel "at home" with a custom help center branded to match your website. Easily integrate it into your site so your customers can ask questions and tap into your Knowledge Base. Advanced users also have full access to HTML and CSS templates for your help desk.
- Knowledge Base - Build a comprehensive Knowledge Base that your support team can use to research problems and provide timely and accurate responses. Build a library of Agent wisdom to answer frequent queries, cutting down on service requests.
- Community Q&A - Create a platform for customers to help each other. Manage posts so customers can answer their own questions and post public questions and answers in the community support forum.
- Contact Forms - Customers can contact your business directly from your website with Desk.com contact forms. Creating custom forms lets you extend your brand and listen to customers through other channels.
With Desk.com Mobile you'll never lose touch with your customers. It's what you need to get the job done and stay connected to the people that matter the most.
- iPhone and Android Friendly - Your business is at your fingertips no matter where you go with Desk.com Mobile. Use your iPhone or Android to stay on top of customer issues, collaborate with your team, and track and reply to cases while you're on the road. It's that easy and it's always safe and secure.
- Respond Quickly & Easily - Instantly access all of your information no matter where your business takes you. With Desk.com Mobile you can quickly respond to support cases using the same familiar filters from your desktop client. You can even access the entire macro library without ever having to type long replies.
- Airtight Case Management - Manage your customer service system effortlessly, so everything runs smoothly when you're away. Re-assign, change groups, change status, change priority for cases, and even modify customer information associated with cases.
- Team-Wide Collaboration - Stay productive on the road with our easy-to-use collaborative desktop. Post private notes and respond to cases that other Agents can see in real time. Direct links in emails can also be opened so you'll be on top of everything happening at your company.
Reporting and Analytics
With Desk.com Reporting you'll be able to track and measure data in real time based on your support volume and Agent performance. Understand where your cases came from, how they were handled by your team, and areas where you can improve.
- Pre-Built Reports - View, analyze, and gain insight from your customer service activity with 12 pre-populated reports, including an analytics dashboard. Track and measure data based on your support volume and Agent performance in real time.
- Agent Performance Reports - Agent Performance Reports are focused on the actions, achievements, and work performed by Agents and Groups. See how many cases Agents opened, resolved, replied to, reassigned, or reopened - regardless of who the case was assigned to.
- Better Label Reporting - Slice and dice information the way you want it. Report and track labeled cases at various states of a case cycle so you can identify common issues to better serve your customers.
- Macro Usage Reports - Summarize case activity handled by your Agents, understand inbound inquiries from your customers, and see at a glance what's happening in your support center all in one easy-to-read dashboard with point-and-click analysis.
Desk.com's Knowledge Base (KB) is the "library" the support team calls upon to research issues and provide timely and accurate responses. Keep the KB stocked with Agent wisdom and the best answers to common questions, cutting down on service requests.
- Strength In Numbers - The Desk.com Knowledge Base capitalizes on Agent experience with customers, corporate content, and community problem-solving. Your support team uses the Knowledge Base to research problems and provide timely and accurate responses.
- Available 24/7, 365 Days - Show portions of your Knowledge Base on the public help center so that customers can answer their own questions without contacting support—on their own timetable. Your team can easily create and update content to keep information current and reduce service load.
- Formatted For All Channels - Desk.com helps you put commonly-asked questions into multiple tailored formats (FAQ, Twitter, email, and more). For example, use a full description from the Knowledge Base for email, or have it automatically formatted to 140 characters for a Twitter response.
Connect your corporate systems directly through your Agent Desktop, giving your employees one unified application to deliver awesomely responsive customer service.
- Salesforce.com - Desk.com provides two-way integration with Salesforce so that both your sales and support teams can seamlessly share a comprehensive view of your customer.
- Integration URL - Integrate any website with Desk.com and pass any case or customer information through a URL to your back-end order management, customer profile, or sales web-based applications.
- Google Apps - Seamlessly integrate your Gmail support accounts and bring emails right into Desk.com. Deliver service and support faster from the Google Control Panel alongside Calendar, Docs, & Gmail. Sign in with your Google credentials, no additional login required.
- API - Integrate Desk.com customer service tools directly into your own application. Our REST APIs allow you to retrieve cases for a particular customer, retrieve or update a customer's information, and to create new interactions, cases and customers.
- Even More Chat Services - Do you already use Olark, LiveChat or SnapEngage? We've partnered with these great products to help you turn chats into Desk.com cases without anything falling through the cracks.
I am absolutely impressed with integration of social and customer relations management that is built into Desk.com. Desk.com includes a mobile app with support for iPhone and Android mobile phones that allows customer service personnel the ability to access Desk.com anywhere on a 24/7, 365 day basis. Desk.com comes with a 30-day unlimited free trial. What's not to like about Desk.com.
Courtesy of an article dated January 30, 2012 appearing in Fast Company