Salesforce Unveils its Next-Gen Community Cloud

Last week, Salesforce took the wraps off the latest version of its Community Cloud platform. Designed to help companies connect and engage with key stakeholders, including partners, customers and employees, Salesforce Community Cloud offers companies a single platform through which they can build branded, fully-functional online communities with the content, collaboration and social networking functionality end users have come to expect.

The updated Community Cloud adds new functionality to the platform, including:

  • Targeted Recommendations, which analyzes data and helps companies deliver relevant content, such as blog posts and files, to members of a community. Salesforce says that its analysis is capable of identifying experts within a community and promoting their content. Community managers also have the option of posting content and targeting it to specific users and groups.
  • Lightning Community Builder and Templates, a turnkey, drag-and-drop solution that gives non-technical users the ability to build fully functional communities and apps. 
  • Salesforce Files Connect for Google Drive, which enables members of a community to share and work with files stored in Google Drive. 

Community Cloud is based on Salesforce1 and is integrated with Salesforce's flagship CRM solution. It can also be integrated with third-party applications and databases using Salesforce's Connect API.

All of the new Community Cloud features are expected be rolled out later this year and will be available to all current Community Cloud licensees.

Not just a CRM platform

While Salesforce is best known as a leading cloud CRM provider, technology has led to the proliferation of customer data and customer touch points, necessitating that Salesforce go beyond CRM's traditional footprint. In fact, Salesforce today brands itself as the "Customer Success Platform" and supporting community is an important part of that broader platform vision.

"Communities have become the connective tissue linking customers, partners and employees to companies and each other," Salesforce's Nasi Jazayeri, EVP of Community Cloud, explained. "With the next-generation Community Cloud, companies have the intelligence, speed and engagement to strengthen these bonds like never before."

According to Salesforce, the benefits of community aren't just theoretical either. The company says communities can help companies resolve customer issues 48% faster, increase employee engagement by 48%, boost sales by 43% and deliver a 45% jump in overall customer satisfaction, so by giving its customer base an easy way to build communities and integrate them with the rest of their Salesforce data and third party applications, Salesforce could very well find itself powering many more communities in the years to come as companies decide to augment their existing efforts on services like Facebook and Twitter with homegrown communities.

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