Salesforce Essentials adds new ways for SMBs to reach customers in real time

The new capabilities should help smaller businesses meet the demands of consumers looking for more personal interactions with brands.

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 Salesforce on Wednesday announced it's enhancing Salesforce Essentials -- its two year-old CRM platform for small and medium businesses -- with new ways for businesses to communicate directly to customers personally. The new capabilities include integrations with social media channels including Facebook Messenger and Instagram, as well as new chat and phone services. 

"We all expect real-time instantaneous communication today—whether it's with our family,  friends or favorite brands," Marie Rosecrans, SVP for Salesforce Essentials and SMB, said in a statement. "Now Salesforce Essentials is giving small businesses the tools needed to manage customer communications across all those channels in one centralized spot."

For social media conversations, Salesforce is expanding on Essentials' existing support for Facebook pages and Twitter with support for Facebook Messenger, Instagram and YouTube. Now, when a customer sends a company a message via Messenger, it can be routed via Salesforce Essentials to an employee who can have a live conversation with the customer. For YouTube and Instagram posts, employees can receive notifications via Essentials any time there's a new comment -- they can also respond via Salesforce. 

The Instagram and YouTube channels are generally available now at $25 per user, per month. The Facebook Messenger feature is generally available, with one license included and additional licenses available for $15 per user, per month. 

Essentials now also lets SMBs add a Salesforce chat widget to their website, which will route customer conversations to available employees. An employee can maintain multiple chat conversations from Salesforce. The new feature also gives the employee a full view of the customer's profile, including information like previous interactions and open sales opportunities. 

The chat feature is generally available, with one license included and additional licenses available for $15 per user, per month. 

Additionally, SMBs can now make and receive customer calls with Lightning Dialer for Essentials, an out-of-the-box call center solution built directly into Essentials. Lightning Dialer provides the customer's profile and account information. It also automatically logs calls. 

Lightning Dialer for Essentials is now generally available in the US and Canada at $2 per 100 minutes.

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