Your enterprise today faces a generational challenge: you have to keep up with a rising tide of anychannel-anytime-anywhere customers. This calls for a make-or-break "multi-channel" transformation to your enterprise which has three key attributes: Leading-Edge, All-of-the-Above, and Built-to-Last. 

Leading enterprises like Activision and Thomson Reuters have already made that transformation by leveraging Here is how you could do the same.


I recently ended up on a school bus with bunch of teenagers on a field trip. My co-passengers spent the *entire* 2 hours twiddling with their smart-phone: tumblring, gaming, tweeting, texting, pinning, liking - sometimes with friends sitting right next to them. There was the occasional phone call too. This is their world - it's mobile, it's social, it's real-time. It's always on. 

Combo_Echo_AMEX_finalThese teenagers represent the next-generation of anychannel-anytime-anywhere customers for your enterprise - the explosion in smart-phone adoption is creating this generation. They have never had more channels to interact with you and they are embracing them – *all* of them. As the charts on the right show: more than half use three or four channels to interact with you - across in-person, mail, email, phone, SMS, web, live chat and social media. Almost a quarter use five or more. The once-dominant phone channel has been diminishing, but majority customers still prefer it for difficult inquiries. So the rumors of its demise are being exaggerated. 

Volumes across all these channels (both traditional and new social ones) continue to rise every year for enterprises.


Most enterprises have done multiple-channel customer engagement for a while (esp. since web and email burst onto the scenes in the 90's) - so this is not new. What is new is the *massive* ballooning in the # of interactions and the # of channels you need to support. What is also new is this generation's vicious habit of escalating any bad experience to the court of public opinion using social media. What happens in Vegas does not stay in Vegas any more. This is the new reality for enterprises.

When you look at the multi-channel strategy enterprises have in place for this new reality, here is typically what you see:

  • Each channel is a silo by itselfBecause channels have been added in an ad-hoc manner. Contact center manager knows about daily call volumes, but only IT knows web self-service traffic volumes. Social media volumes? – talk to marketing.
  • Fragmented view of customer: Due to patchwork of multiple databases. You cannot create consistent business processes across channels - for e.g. “VIP” customers should get preferential treatment on all channels or, establish common upsell/cross-sell processes across channels.
  • Customer Satisfaction still being measured using old KPI's: Metrics from "phone-only" days (Abandon Rates and Average Handle Times) do not apply to Twitter where Response-Time is the KPI (There is no Press 1 on Twitter!).  'New-age' metrics like first contact resolution rate, task completion %, response-times cannot be measured across channels.
  • No real-time Analytics: Old-school databases don't allow managers to make real-time decisions. 
  • No real strategy for new social channels: The plan is to do more of the same: slap them on, and hope for the best.

Clearly, this 'bricks-and-sticks' approach towards multi-channel won't work in this new reality - enterprises need to first make some *fundamental* transformations!


Winners_Court_Transformation_finalThe crux of the necessary transformation is the ability to completely elevate your focus from individual interactions to the overall customer relationship. This means the express ability to take into account the business context and specific customer's value and influence for any interaction on any channel – and use that information to make dynamic decisions on how to most-efficiently route and treat that interaction. This not only produces a great customer experience, but also drives your enterprise's ability to apply the "right" level of resources to the interaction (i.e. better customer service at lower costs). 

Behind this simple-looking formula for success, lies a series of complex transformations that your enterprise needs to make - I capture 8 of them in the above table.

Business and technology leaders need to make an honest assessment of where they lie on this table. Is your CRM platform an enabler or an inhibitor in getting to Winner's Court?


Here are 6 ways in which Salesforce enables your enterprise to make this multi-channel transformation:

1. Establish a Single Social Customer Profile: 


Universal Interaction Hub

It starts here - *all* your internal and social customer data in one single place. Combine this with executing business logic 5X faster at ½ cost using, and the possibilities to create #amazing interplays between channels are endless. How about routing phone calls from customers with high Klout scores to your best agents? How about SMS alerts to executives when high-value customers email-in bad surveys? How about phone agents upselling based on what a customer just tweeted?

2. Build a Universal Interaction Hub: 


Another core capability is the universal hub which lets you capture *all* customer interactions in one place - across "Salesforce-native" channels (email, web, live chat and 150K+ social sites) as well as "non-native" channels (phone, SMS, fax). If your customers start using a totally new social channel tomorrow (an obscure blog site, let's say), no problem - Radian6 will bring that channel into the hub. Combine this with our social analytics and your managers can track all your cross-channel metrics in real-time on their favorite mobile device - no more channel silos, no more latency. Agents can seamlessly pivot from one channel to another while engaging customers. We realize that Unified Communications vendors are doing some amazing things in the same space - and the need to integrate well with them. Precisely for that, with Summer'12 we have moved Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) 100% into the cloud as well as made it open.

3. Segment your customer-base for right-channeling:

Service Entitlements enable you to segment customers along any attributes that are important to your enterprise - and use that to optimize your channel portfolio. For e.g. "VIP" customers can get 24X7 access to premium agents over phone and live chat. Cases logged by "Highly Social Influential" customers are automatically marked URGENT. At the same time, our KCS-verified knowledge platform provides consistency across all channels. Looking at Unsourcing to reduce costs? – we have Chatter Answers for that.

4. Set-up your agents for success

Service Cloud Console

Agents need a rich, unified desktop to manage their daily workload across all channels - Service Cloud Console is exactly that. Swivel-chairing is out, minimal clicks is in. 100% in your favorite browser - no klunky Windows thick-client like our competitors. Entire business context is available when agents view cases - if information from back-end needs to be brought in to complete that context, the console API toolkit enables that. Visual Workflow does complex decision-making - allowing agents to focus on the customer conversation. Knowledge sidebar auto-suggests knowledge articles - saving agents valuable seconds. Case feed (watch this space for more exciting innovation!) is a new, #game-changing UI-paradigm for managing all channels using a single publisher box. 

5. Make your employees social, mobile and real-time:


Real-time Dashboards on iPad

Your journey to wow the next-generation begins at home. How about a bottoms-up "social" enterprise where everyone contributes? How about agents getting a facebook-like feed of all that is important to them: hot knowledge articles, key customers, leaders in R&D, important documents? Chatter does that. Our ipad apps and android apps un-tether managers from their desk. Chatter swarming enables your entire enterprise to back the front-line agents when they need help. Need real-time collaboration? - Chatter Messenger is available with Summer'12.

6. Secure your future through our innovation: 

Lastly, multi-channel is a moving target - our unmatched pace of innovation enables you to always stay a step ahead of it. As HTML5 ushers in a new generation of web-apps – we have launched Touch. Looking at gamification to energize your employees? – we have Rypple.  Looking to build customer apps on facebook? - Heroku is the fastest way to do that. We continue to lead from the front in all relevant areas.