Desk.com was founded in 2009 under the name of Assistly. The company released the premiere version of its Desk.com product in September 2010. By September 2011, the company had been acquired by Salesforce.com and Desk.com became one of many offerings that Salesforce.com provides for its international clientele.
Sramana Mitra: Hi, Alex. Let’s start with a bit of context about you and the part of Salesforce.com that you’re responsible for.
Alex Bard: I’m the vice-president and general manager for Desk.com, which is a business unit inside of Salesforce. It’s part of our service offerings. We have Service Cloud, and we have Desk.com, the two key products that are inside offering.
As far as my background, I’m a career entrepreneur. I’ve been part of starting four companies. Three out of the four, since the mid-1990s, have been in customer service and support. This is an area I’m hugely passionate about. Desk.com is the evolution of Assistly, which is a company I co-founded that was acquired by Salesforce in September 2011.
SM: Let’s start with an overview of trends you see in the domain of customer service. How is customer service changing, and how are you crafting your product strategies to meet those changes and respond to those trends?
AB: There’s a great quote by Jeff Bezos that I’ve used for a long time, and it’s something to the effect of “If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell six friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can tell 6,000 friends.” That quote is more than a decade old at this point, but it’s never been truer than it is today. The reason it’s never been truer is because the world has gone social. There are 340 million tweets a day, 2.6 million Facebook posts a day, and billions and billions of blog posts. What’s even more interesting than that is that there are about 150 million and rapidly growing brand conversations each day. That’s people having conversations with and about brands through social media. The challenge we see is that companies are still behind in terms of engaging with customers through social media. Some of the data we have suggests that a large percentage of Facebook brand posts are not being answered. Seventy-one percent of Twitter complaints are not being answered. That all results in 88% of people being unlikely to buy from brands that ignore their complaints online.
For me, it’s both a challenge and a huge opportunity for businesses of all sizes to understand the impact that social [media[ is having and to take advantage of that impact. A lot of what we do at Salesforce, not just inside of Desk.com specifically, but Salesforce more broadly, is help companies focus on the fact that the world is going social and to take advantage of that shift through sales technologies, marketing technologies, and customer support applications that are social and help them engage with their customers in a social way.