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Cisco, Salesforce.com Partner on CRM

Cisco this week partnered with SaaS pioneer Salesforce.com to promote a combined CRM and contact center offering with a cloud twist.

The new Cisco/Salesforce.com Customer Interaction Cloud taps Salesforce.com's Service Cloud 2 and Cisco's Unified Communications (UC) stack. It exploits a custom connector that permits users of Salesforce.com CRM to leverage Cisco's Unified Contact Center capabilities.

It's an SMB-oriented offering, too, according to Cisco and Salesforce.com; the two partners plan to target shops of between 30 and 300 agents.

Cisco officials anticipate plenty of pent-up SMB demand, citing estimates that just about half of all customer service interactions involve cloud assets at some point. The new Customer Interaction Cloud's "cloud" branding underscores both its support for next-gen Web 2.0 applications -- e.g., social media, forums, blogs, wikis or online searches -- in addition to its being built on top of Salesforce.com's Service Cloud 2 platform.

The new offering's cloud-based underpinnings help abstract, or eliminate entirely, a lot of the complexity associated with managing and integrating contact center technologies, particularly with CRM or other application software platforms, the two partners say.

"The combination of Cisco's Unified Communications and Salesforce.com's Service Cloud 2 will provide companies with a true cloud-based option when it comes to their customer service needs," said Alex Dayon, senior VP of customer service and support for Salesforce.com, in a statement. "Companies will no longer have to manage routers, servers and switches when it comes to their contact center -- they can focus on delivering the best customer service possible."

Cisco officials position the new offering in the context of the company's Unified Communications and Collaborations (UCC) push.

"We're taking customers beyond the contact center to Customer Collaboration, where organizations can be more proactive and effective, create deeper relationships with their customers, and help build their brands through customer advocates," said John Hernandez, GM of Cisco's Customer Contact Business Unit, in a statement. "The rise of social media and the confidence it has spawned among Internet users to engage makes the possibility of collaboration much more of a reality."

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.

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