Salesforce.com delves into customer support market


14 Oct 2004

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On-demand customer relationship management (CRM) software giant Salesforce.com has deployed a new product strategy aimed at enabling firms to provide better customer support. Marc Benioff, CEO of the NYSE-listed company, told siliconrepublic.com that the new offering – Supportforce.com – will be targeted at the company’s existing 168,000 paying subscribers worldwide or any other firms with customer support needs.

Salesforce.com, which was established only in 1999 by ex-Oracle staffer Benioff, has usurped the traditional hunting ground of established CRM players by providing the technology to businesses in a hosted fashion over the internet for a monthly fee. Already more than 11,100 businesses, from small office home office (SOHO) operations to giant bluechip multinationals have signed up for the service.

It is understood that the new Supportforce.com technology will be available to subscribers for around US$65 per month.

Supportforce.com features a multi-channel web services interface to provide a unified, 360-degree view of customer interactions across all channels. Supportforce.com also includes complete customer support and helpdesk functionality, knowledge management capabilities, web self-service and performance metrics to enable companies to easily manage and share customer information.

Benioff also told siliconrepublic.com that the company has signed major technology alliances with Alcatel, Aspect, Avaya, Cisco and Genesys to deploy the technology. Between them, these four companies control 70pc of the global contact centre marketplace.

“This technology contains everything a company needs to be competitive,” Benioff said.

He continued to say that because the technology is hosted, growing numbers of businesspeople are accessing vital business information through various devices other than the PC, namely over BlackBerrys, PDAs and mobile phones.

Salesforce.com came into being in 1999 when Oracle boss Larry Ellison instructed Benioff and a few colleagues to attempt a new start-up. Benioff admitted that much of Salesforce.com’s technology is built on an Oracle platform. It is understood that Ellison retains a 4pc stake in Salesforce.com, which floated on the NYSE last June, raising more than US$110m in the first day of trading.

The 50 people employed at Salesforce.com’s Sandyford offices are chiefly involved in software sales and distribution as well as maintaining the international content of Salesforce.com’s corporate websites. Within two years, the European operation has expanded consistently and has gained 11,000 individual users across Europe as customers. Irish customers include Am-beo, Cape Clear and Jurys Doyle Hotel Group.

By John Kennedy