December 21, 2014

Matt Trifiro of Desk.com: Meeting Customer Service Expectations in a Social World

The Rolling Stones proudly sang, “Time is on my side, yes it is.” These days, time seems to be an adversary that everyone is fighting, especially when it comes to social media and small business. Unlike large corporations, small businesses do not have the ability to hire teams of individuals to monitor and respond to customer service issues on social media sites. So what’s a small business to do? Matt Trifiro joins Brent Leary to offer a solution.

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Matt Trifiro of Desk.comSmall Business Trends: Can you tell us a little about your background?

Matt Trifiro: I have been a startup marketing person my entire life. I have been a co-founder and founder of a number of start-ups, and I joined cloud service provider, Assistly, at the end of 2010 to run their marketing team. Within nine months of my joining, they were acquired by Salesforce.com. Now we are a business unit of Salesforce.com and we are called Desk.com. I am the Sr. Vice President for Marketing at Desk.com.

Small Business Trends: Let’s talk a little bit about the speed and expectation around getting great customers experiences.

Matt Trifiro: Mobile has completely revolutionized our relationship to the Internet and similarly our relationship to companies. When I had a good or bad customer service experience, chances are, the device that is nearest me is going to be my mobile phone. The easiest thing to do was to Tweet, and I’ve done that.

With personal publishing systems like Twitter and the ability to contact thousands of people, if you are going to deliver great customer service you have to be connected to all of these high velocity channels 24/7.

Small Business Trends: How effective do you think small businesses are today being able to roll that out to their customer base?

Matt Trifiro: I think completely ineffective. The larger companies spin out a Facebook team, they spin out a Twitter team, they put two or three people on it, and they build it into their work flow and policies and eventually they build tools. Small business cannot afford to do that. It is hard enough to just learn what tool to use with Twitter. So I think that most small businesses are behind the curve in keeping up with their customers.

As a user it is really fairly simple. I just tweet. But as a small business, what would you do with that tweet? How do you assign it to somebody within your company to resolve the problem? How do you ensure that it does not fall through the cracks? When you don’t have a dedicated person on it, it is your job to answer every tweet. Small businesses cannot afford to do that so you really need to look to tools and automation solutions to help you address what is needed.

Small Business Trends: How does a small business prepare themselves to be able to handle the kind of service experience that customers really do expect today?

Matt Trifiro: You have to recognize your customers have different expectations. If you want to be competitive in this new world you have to go where they are. You will have to be there at hours when you are not normally expected to be, using technologies that you may not have ever used in the past.

The second thing you need to do is identify the tools that empower your organization to utilize those channels effectively without completely bringing you to your knees. If you cannot afford to hire a social media person, and an email person, and a customer service individual, you need to leverage technology in all aspects of your business.

Small Business Trends: How does it impact the overall organization in terms of service impacting sales or service impacting marketing?

Matt Trifiro: It is all becoming sales and marketing. If I was selling coffee at Starbucks, the most important thing to me is not that you bought a single cup of coffee, but that you come in every day and you order that triple latte with extra foam that is five bucks. Five dollars every day is a maximum amount of money over the course of the year.

When you look at a customers lifetime value perspective, customer service is almost more important than sales. It is where your revenue is coming from. A lot of customer service questions that happen in public social media are really sales questions and if your customer service team is empowered to respond to customers over social media, that becomes a sale. I think that it effects the entire organization.

Small Business Trends: What are some of the new things Desk.com offers?

Matt Trifiro: We have completely rebuilt our product to service the needs of small and medium size businesses. We have a new agent interface that is super easy to use and very easy to set up. You can attach Desk.com to a Twitter account and be servicing your customers over Twitter with literally five clicks.

You can attach a Facebook page in a similar number of clicks. You can attach an email account. All of the different channels that your customers demand service from are now organized in one place on our new agent interface. All of the interactions with the customers are stored at one place so that if multiple employees interact with the customer, they can see the entire history.

In addition, we have an entirely new mobile agent. A buyer who does some customer support but is on the road all the time now is able to interact with customers to provide support using any HTML5, Android or IOS mobile phone very simply and easily. That is new in Desk.com as well.

Small Business Trends: Where can people go to learn more about Desk. com and how it can help small businesses get up to speed with delivering the customer experience that they are really looking for today?

Matt Trifiro: Go to www.Desk.com. Every account gets their first full time agent for free. There should be no barrier, even to the smallest of companies to try it out.

This interview is part of our One on One series of conversations with some of the most thought-provoking entrepreneurs, authors and experts in business today. This interview has been edited for publication. To hear audio of the full interview, click the right arrow on the gray player below. You can also see more interviews in our interview series.

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Brent Leary


Brent Leary Brent Leary is a Partner at CRM Essentials and organizer of the Social Business Atlanta conference. Brent serves on the advisory board of The University of Toronto CRM Center of Excellence, writes the Social CRM column for Inc.com's technology site, and blogs at Brent's Social CRM Blog.

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