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Customer Engagement

Q&A: EVP and GM Bill Patterson on Service Cloud’s Standout Quarter

Service Cloud first launched in 2009 with the goal of transforming customer service through cloud computing, and at that time Service Cloud brought together self-service via online communities, connectors to Facebook and online forums, and the ability for companies to provide service via phone, email or chat. Since then we’ve added a number of innovations in response to customer demand and market shifts, including a mobile app, field service, AI-powered bots, process automation, support for new messaging channels, and a host of other capabilities that ensure companies can manage all of their customer service from one central console and deliver exceptional experiences.

It’s fitting then that last quarter, on its 10th anniversary, Service Cloud became Salesforce’s second business to surpass the $1 billion mark for a quarter, joining Sales Cloud. As is true for Sales Cloud, Service Cloud is the clear market share leader. It’s growing at 20% YOY (outpacing the market) and is widely considered the best product in its category by industry analysts. And, with a total addressable market of $29 billion by 2022, there are big growth opportunities ahead.

We caught up with Bill Patterson, EVP and GM of Service Cloud, to learn more about what’s behind this success, and what’s going on in the world of service.

That was quite a quarter. What’s behind the growth in customer service?

It was. While I’m obviously happy about the financials, I’m even more excited about how the great companies we’re working with are using Service Cloud in really innovative ways. As our co-CEOs Marc and Keith mentioned in our Q1 earnings call (transcript here), Dell will be using our AI capabilities – including Einstein Bots – to deliver automated and intelligent customer service. Southwest is using Service Cloud and Communities to transform its delivery of HR services with new self-service, chat and mobile capabilities for its 60,000-strong workforce and retirees. These are just a few examples of how we’re helping companies fundamentally transform the service they deliver.

And while I’d like to attribute the growth to our great product, I should also point out that we’re in the midst of a massive industry shift as service moves from a cost center to a strategic differentiator. Service was once viewed as a back-office function, de-prioritized and often outsourced. Now we’re seeing forward-looking companies investing the time and resources, and taking advantage of cutting-edge technologies to deliver world-class customer service.

What’s been happening on the product front?

Service Cloud has been riding a wave of innovation over the last year, most recently with a ton of new AI capabilities that are reshaping customer service. Our Einstein Bots are delivering massive ROI for companies, and Pearson Education is a great example — they saw a 20% decrease in average handle time, and an 80% increase in average CSAT score since implementing Einstein Bots. New AI-powered features like Next Best Action and Case Classification are helping service agents offload rote tasks and focus on complex problem-solving — effectively turning them into superagents.

On the mobile front, we are seeing massive adoption of Field Service Lightning as it branches beyond the traditional hard-hat use cases into any industry that requires a mobile workforce. Restaurant management platform Toast is a great example. They are using Field Service Lightning to dispatch and communicate with mobile workers throughout the installation process. With the mobile app, Toast’s field service team have all the details about the customer, and can receive instructions on tasks to complete on-site, add notes, log the completed work, and collaborate with co-workers. We also recently announced new messaging and bot capabilities that make every digital customer service interaction seamless, regardless of whether it’s via the web, messaging apps, chat or other channels.

Finally, we know that call centers are complex and require a lot of complex technologies working in tandem to be effective. That’s why we’re launching new joint capabilities with Amazon and Google that are helping companies reshape their traditional call centers.

You’ve been in the industry for 20 years now. What has been the biggest change over that time?

The very definition of service has been evolving at the pace of technology innovation. It’s no longer just about handling customer complaints. Now through AI, data and connected devices, companies can proactively address service needs often before the customer is even aware a problem exists. Jacuzzi is a great example of this. With remote monitoring functionality and connected data, distributors can monitor and diagnose maintenance issues remotely, then dispatch technicians before any real problems occur, drastically reducing any downtime on the hot tubs and fixing problems before they start bubbling up. Sorry, bad pun, I couldn’t resist.

Eighty percent of customers today consider the service a company provides to be as important as its products. Every company today needs to realize they are in the service business, and those that fall short of delivering on their customers expectations may not be around much longer.

Why did you get into the service space in the first place?

I started my career working in the call center while attending Miami University – working at nights while studying during the day. I wasn’t what you might call a “stick to the script” kind of agent, and actually used to get reprimanded for spending too much time talking to customers and listening to their problems. It was such a treasure trove of information.

After I graduated and entered the workforce, I built custom contact center software for clients, and implemented some of the world’s leading software solutions for customer service teams. I’ve always been amazed at how the right customer service solutions can help organizations get closer to their customers, so it’s probably no surprise that I ended up in my current role creating leading customer service innovations for businesses.

Where will you be focusing your efforts this year?

It’s all about AI and process automation. The biggest challenge I hear from customers is how to service a growing, increasingly global customer base across a growing number of channels, all while maintaining excellent levels of service. So the more we can help them bring the power of AI and automation to their contact centers, and provide them with all the relevant context in a 360-degree view, the more we’ll be able to help them continue delivering great experiences to their customers.


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