Salesforce Essentials Brings SMBs Closer to Clients Via Social Media

Salesforce Essentials now helps small businesses leverage conversations over social media, which means easy, managed customer engagement on Facebook Messenger, Instagram, YouTube, web chat, and more.

Social media services such as Facebook, Instagram, and to some extent YouTube have become compelling sales channels and popular contact points between businesses and customers. For small to midsize businesses (SMBs), the challenge is keeping up with the flurry of customer interactions on multiple social media platforms while integrating data into their customer relationship management (CRM) tools.

Salesforce Essentials is an out-of-the-box CRM solution designed around the needs of SMBs. Starting at $25 per user per month for up to 10 users, it aims to help businesses meet their customers where they are, which is increasingly on social media outlets.

“We all expect real-time instantaneous communication today, whether it’s with our family, friends, or favorite brands,” said Marie Rosecrans, Senior Vice President of SMB marketing at Salesforce. “Salesforce Essentials gives small businesses the tools to manage customer communications across all those channels in one centralized spot.”

According to Salesforce, 58 percent of SMB leaders say meeting customer experience expectations is a challenge for growth over the next two years. While larger companies can dedicate employees or even entire departments to customer relationship tasks, most SMBs will find it challenging to meet the growing monitoring demands coming from multiple social media outlets, as well as those coming from more traditional channels, such as email marketing or even help desk interactions.

Business - Statista - Facebook a Favorite Among Marketers
(Image credit: Statista)
Social media platforms are now popular sales and communication points between businesses and potential customers.

Helping SMBs Offer Better Customer Support

In an hour-long demonstration of the new technology, Salesforce showed us how Essentials pulls all Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and YouTube communications into a single interface and integrates that data into its CRM functionality. The product’s aim is to replace old workflows, like having to use multiple spreadsheets or even Post-It notes to track conversations, or having to respond to clients on social media by using different applications. Adding the CRM component, which is Salesforce’s key product, makes it possible for businesses to see customer social media interactions as well as their history of purchases or conversations with other corporate communication channels. Salesforce hopes the end result will be that Essentials provides SMBs the ability to offer their customers a better level of support.

Salesforce Essentials - Setup
(Image credit: Salesforce)
Salesforce Essentials features intuitive setup wizards that make it easy to integrate social media channels into the CRM dashboard.

For SMBs that may find it challenging to deal with social media as a sales or marketing channel, Salesforce Essentials also provides a chat widget that can be easily added to any SMB’s website or blog. Salesforce says that adding the chat widget is as easy as cutting and pasting a strip of code into a website’s source code. Any interaction with this widget shows up in the Salesforce Essentials dashboard as well.

Finally, for businesses that need a call center solution, Salesforce Essentials makes it easy to set up a phone number and take support calls right from within Salesforce’s dashboard. When someone on your team receives a call, the customer’s profile and account information pop up, giving the support rep a detailed customer history for fast and highly personalized service. Calls are automatically logged, reducing manual data entry while also making sure that information doesn’t get lost.

Salesforce Essentials - Call
(Image credit: Salesforce)
Aside from social media conversation channel integration, SMBs can use Salesforce Essentials’ built-in call center for taking and making support phone calls within the CRM solution.

Giving Small Businesses Flexibility

By bringing the communication and interaction component of social media management into a CRM solution, Salesforce Essentials gives small businesses the flexibility to scale their support and customer interactions. This speeds up communications and improves the resolution of issues or customer queries.

“Salesforce Essentials doesn’t only bring SMBs directly to their customers using social media to make queries, seek support, or file complaints; it also provides a unified solution for responding without having to leave the Salesforce dashboard,” Rosecrans explained. She added that ease of setup through the use of various on-screen setup wizards makes this attractive to even the most non-technical SMBs. Salesforce’s customers can also consult with coaches who can assist businesses in setting up the solution.

When a customer sends a company a question via Facebook Messenger, the message is routed through Salesforce Essentials to an employee who can have a live conversation without ever leaving Salesforce. A notification system will send an alert when customers comment on an Instagram or YouTube post, so the employee managing the CRM can respond to all customers from one place.

“Our customers feel very comfortable telling us about their successes but also some of their challenges,” Rosecrans said. “What they tell me in those conversations is that social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube are an equalizing force for small businesses. Naturally, it’s opened them up to billions of prospective customers.”

It’s important to note, however, that Salesforce isn’t touting Essentials as a full-on social media marketing tool. Scheduling marketing posts, performing audience analytics, and integrating into a larger marketing automation schema will still require the use of a different set of tools, though one that Salesforce also offers as part of its Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

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