announces Service Cloud 2

Upgrade features a knowledge base for cloud computing, which Salesforce is calling knowledge-as-a-service upgraded its Service Cloud customer service offering today with Service Cloud 2. The upgrades include three major new features: Salesforce Knowledge, Salesforce Answers, and Salesforce for Twitter.

Salesforce Knowledge, which utilizes technology Salesforce gained from last year's acquisition of InStranet, is being billed as both the world's first "knowledge-as-a-service" technology and the world's first knowledge base for cloud computing. It is search engine-accessible and designed for quick deployment and simple customization. The result, says Salesforce, is that users will be able to get the correct answer to questions on the first try.

[ Salesforce introduced the Service Cloud as a combination of call-center technology, search engine, and social networking. ]

With Salesforce Answers, the company is helping customer service workers break out of silos that restrict them to in-house knowledge articles, allowing them to tap into the wealth of knowledge to be found in online communities and social networking sites.  Users can bring the full bore of available knowledge to bear on problems by setting up a custom Web site and starting a Q&A-style conversation with customers. The answers can then be filtered, and the most useful ones can be placed directly into the Service Cloud's knowledge base so that all users can benefit from it.

Finally, Salesforce for Twitter helps companies engage in real-time conversations with customers by scanning and monitoring Twitter for relevant tweets, join Twitter conversations from within the Service Cloud, and deliver information by posting tweets directly from the knowledge base.

The Service Cloud's knowledge base is $50 per agent for customers and is currently scheduled to be available for in the fourth quarter of 2010, Salesforce Answers is currently in pilot and scheduled to be available in the first half of 2011, and Salesforce for Twitter is available today for free on the AppExchange. More information is available at Salesforce's Web site.