Ugly HoursBy Baselinemag Print
A year ago, the hosted customer relationship management software provider wanted to expand its services. First, it had to bring its own technology infrastructure up to speed.
During last year's outages, Salesforce.com was stung by a chorus of customer complaints. At least one bailed out altogether. "We dropped Salesforce.com and switched over to an internal system on the same day as the Dec. 20  outage," says Charles Crystle, CEO of Mission Research, a developer of fund-raising software based in Lancaster, Pa. "It wasn't just the outages that caused us to change. There were performance problems as well." Among the problems, according to Crystle: a clunky interface and cryptic processes, though he declined to elaborate. Salesforce.com has said repeatedly that since the outage, it has improved its application programming interface.
John Johnson, an assistant vice president with ASCAP, a membership association of more than 260,000 U.S. composers, songwriters, lyricists and music publishers, says his organization got hit several times by both outages and API problems. "We were just moving over to Salesforce.com at the time," he says. "December was ugly. We were down more than up."
One disgruntled user calling himself CRMGuy went so far as to set up a blog, gripeforce.blogspot.com, to air concerns about Salesforce.com. "I am sick of all the downtime, tired of the arrogant salespeople (I feel like CS [customer service] only contacts me when they want to sell more licenses), and if I never hear or see another interview with Marc Benioff again, it will be too soon," CRMGuy railed in the blog's first entry in December 2005.
Some customers, such as Pearson Packaging Systems, a Spokane, Wash.-based manufacturer of packaging machinery, weren't affected by the services glitches. "We didn't experience any downtime," says Pearson president and CEO Michael A. Senske. Even so, Senske, a former Microsoft executive, concedes he was concerned about uptime in using Salesforce.com.
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