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January 31, 2012

Goodbye Assistly, Hello Desk.com

Just as the CRM Idol judges (Paul Greenberg, Denis Pombriant, Jesus Hoyos, Esteban Kolsky and yours truly) were ready announce the four finalists for the Americas award, another announcement beat us to the punch.  Saleforce.com dropped the news they were buying Assistly… the same Assistly we were about to announce as a CRM Idol finalist.

Now we had already made the decision to put them in the Final Four based on their excellent presentation to the judges and great 1-on-1 Q&A session.  You can see what we thought of them by checking out our review of Assistly at the CRM Idol site.

Desk dot comWe liked what we saw, so it really wasn’t a surprise when the acquisition announcement was made – seeing that Salesforce.com was already an investor and was in the middle of a yearlong shopping spree.  Plus it just made sense given what Assistly offered by way of functionality, and focus on the SMB space.  But today’s announcement – coming just over three months from the acquisition – that Assistly has been integrated into the Salesforce fold and is now Desk.com is kind of surprising.  Not that they did it, but that they did it as quick as they did.

I recorded a conversation with Desk.com’s SVP of Marketing Matt Trifiro for my One-on-One series at SmallBizTrends.com that will be published Friday.  But here are a few things he said on the whys and hows of this move:

“Being able to bring the power of a Service Cloud type product to small businesses with fewer than 200 employees was really one of Salesforce.com's strategic objectives, and so they acquired Assistly and basically set us up with a task of [creating] what is the killer application for the social help desk for small business, and Desk.com was the answer.  We completely rebuilt everything that we had produced.  We have developed a new mobile client, a new agent interface, we rebuilt all of our API’s, and we invested in a new infrastructure”.

The new agent interface is nice and clean, and makes it pretty easy to manage service interactions coming from different channels (Facebook, Twitter, email) in one universal inbox.  And one thing that was hinted at during the CRM Idol competition was a mobile client for the contact center agent was coming.  Well it’s now here with Desk.com Mobile - built with HTML5.

Another thing Assistly brought to Salesforce.com was an innovative pricing model and gamified onboarding experience, which I’m glad made the crossover to Desk.com.  Pricing starts at $49 USD, per full-time agent, per month, for unlimited usage. Flex pricing is also available for $1 per part-time agent, per hour. Desk.com Mobile is generally available today at no additional cost for full-time agents.

It will be interesting to see what impact Desk.com will have on the adoption of “social service” at the SMB level.  The new interface and mobile client for agents – coupled with the “old” pricing and onboarding – should pave the way for more small businesses to provide service experiences better aligned with the needs of today’s customers.  It will be interesting to see how this gets integrated in with other pieces of the Salesforce.com pie down the road.

It so hard, to say goodbye... to Assistly.  OK I was never the biggest Boz II Men fan so I'll stop with that, but although Assistly is no more, the spirit lives on in Desk.com.  





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