Priv: A look into a Salesforce Service SOS pilot

Priv, a mobile app company that serves as a beauty and wellness matchmaker, is out of the gate early with a Salesforce Service SOS implementation. Here are some points to ponder.

Priv, a mobile app company that connects beauty and wellness professionals with customers, has been around for more than a year; operates in New York, Los Angeles and London; and is aiming to bring a little bit of luxury to the average person.

Priv has also been a Salesforce Service SOS pilot customer with an implementation that went live about a month ago.

SOS is Salesforce's enterprise answer to Amazon's Mayday button. The general idea is that a customer clicks a button and gets a real live human to respond via video on the other end.

"There's an immediate satisfaction to seeing someone's face on video," said Greg Kopyltsov, CTO of Priv. "SOS shows extra effort."

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Salesforce's SOS function isn't expected to be generally available until June, but pilots are underway. We caught up with Priv to see how the pilot is going, what to expect and how SOS could alter customer engagement.

For Priv, the decision to become a Salesforce guinea pig wasn't hard. Priv is young, looking for attention and can piggyback on Salesforce's marketing prowess. Priv also wants to be seen as a tech first company. It doesn't hurt that Priv uses Salesforce's Sales Cloud, Service Cloud and examining its Marketing Cloud.

Morris Sutton, co-founder and CEO of Priv, said the company wanted to offer video as an option to show that it can offer a customized product. "We are not a commodity product," said Morris. "People are particular about who touches their hair and every single interaction is one on one."

The infrastructure, process

Priv is designed as a cloud-first company. Sutton doesn't want to hear about servers and Kopyltsov isn't fond of managing hardware.

In addition, Priv is aiming to be a technology company, said Sutton. The beauty and wellness market---haircuts, nails, massage, makeup and fitness are on the menu today---represents the now. Priv takes a cut of the transaction as it plays matchmaker. But the Priv platform could ultimately be used for a new market.

Kopyltsov's infrastructure includes a lot of Salesforce with infrastructure run on Rackspace's cloud. MongoDB is the database and Priv utilizes multiple services.

The company is currently implementing Litmos, a cloud learning management system firm, that will enable Priv to add professionals to its network faster. Priv has conducted its professional onboarding process---training, interviews and background checks---via manual labor. Litmos allows Priv to standardize training into core components.

That ability to on board professionals quickly is critical given that Priv plans to expand in eight or more cities.

Given Priv's existing Salesforce implementation, you'd think plugging SOS in would be easy. But when Priv started with SOS it was clearly an alpha product. Priv's SOS experiment kicked off shortly after Salesforce announced the product.

The pilot talks were initiated as Kopyltsov started complaining to his Salesforce reps about Live Agent and how it didn't work as well as he wanted.

Kopyltsov said Salesforce engineers had to configure SOS to work. "The pilot required hand holding," he said. Today, SOS is more plug and play and can be added to Salesforce systems more easily. For instance, the software development kit can be dropped into apps easily and there's a quick setup walkthrough for SOS.

That maturity highlights that SOS is moving closer to general availability. Salesforce announced SOS almost a year ago and Kopyltsov was a Salesforce customer speaker at Dreamforce last October.

Future considerations

Kopyltsov and Sutton both said they expect SOS to boost engagement and become a customer service channel. For now, customers use SOS rarely.

What's unknown is how regularly SOS will be used. For instance, some Priv customers will like the personal touch and engagement via a video conversation. Others will prefer more private interactions.

"We're currently discussing reps and scaling if we get more requests and how we'll manage it," said Sutton.

Indeed, Kopyltsov said that if SOS becomes more popular, Priv will need more reps because they won't be able to move as many requests. "The only con I can see is that SOS could put strain on the customer service team. You can't have a rep on SOS and glancing away at email or a phone," said Kopyltsov.

The bet for Priv is that SOS will serve a valuable sub segment of its audience and may result in better engagement. The return calculation would balance customer rep costs and the lifetime value of the customer.

Priv's plan is to promote its SOS capability more over time to make sure it can handle demand should video support take off. "We just started with SOS in the production sense so we're holding back on promotional marketing," said Kopyltsov. "But SOS fits well with the brand."

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