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NEW YORK CITY — Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff might not be the best spokesperson for friendly customer service. He’s known for his brash, off-the-cuff comments and leading an aggressive campaign to bring cloud to the enterprise.

But at an event today in New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel, Benioff talked quite a bit about communicating with customers and helping companies bridge connections with people through every channel imaginable. Salesforce is now prioritizing “how to be a customer company.”

“When we are connecting to each other, its about the how — how we are connecting,” Benioff said. “The customer revolution is also a trust revolution. And that changes everything.”


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Benioff used the stage today to spotlight new additions to Salesforce’s Service Cloud. The big focus of the announcement is that companies can use Service Cloud to connect with customers on mobile devices in four new ways — direct chat in mobile apps, Communities (forums) inside mobile apps, Service Cloud Touch optimized for mobile devices, and co-browsing.

He said there were many questions that needed to be asked by companies looking to connect with customers and partners.

“How do you listen to every customer?” Benioff said. “How do I engage them on every channel? How do I service customers through the retail store? How do I create communities? How do you connect every partner? How do you connect every product? How do you deliver apps everywhere?”

Benioff cited the “Obama for America” presidential campaign as one of the best examples of how Salesforce had helped an organization connect with people.

That team used Salesforce’s Service Cloud, Chatter, and Platform to help stay connected with employees, registered voters, and leads (in this case, potential voters).

“The election in 2008, I think, was a lot about social media and social networks” Benioff said. “In 2012, it was different. … I downloaded the Obama app and it tells me, ‘These are five people you need to call that aren’t registered to vote.'”

Benioff trotted out Michael Salby, the chief innovation officer for Obama for America, and Vivek Kundra, who was the first CIO for the United States and now a Salesforce executive, as examples of people who had taken advantage of communities and understood how to build customer relationships.

On top of pushing a new “trust revolution” through service channels, Benioff said that social media and networking were clearly another part of delivering on that promise. Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud includes acquisitions of Buddy Media and Radian6, and it uses those tools to help clients better communicate with and track people.

Unilever CIO Willem Eelman talked briefly about how it has used Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud tools to build better relationships.

“Clearly, it’s showing how technology can solve problems for them,” Eelman said. “You have to engage and build trust.”

Benioff also used his stage time to espouse the benefits of location awareness (GPS connectivity to apps) and touch optimization (touchscreens and apps for those screens) as ways to build trust.

“I used to talk about the mobile revolution — now it’s the touch revolution,” “I was at CES and it’s pervasive. … The concept of touch is transforming everything. Touch computers, touch laptops, touch everything.”

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