Six weeks ago, South Africa Tourism realized it needed help. “The World Cup was imminent,” said Viviana Padilla. And South Africa Tourism didn’t have a CRM infrastructure they felt could handle the event. “They launc

hed [their World Cup customer service site] about five weeks ago,” Padilla, senior manager of product marketing at Salesforce, said last week. “They couldn’t scale to the 300,000 visitors that were going to come. They came to us and said they needed something that was mobile and collaborative in nature because we’re going to have agents working across countries.”

“This really was one of the solutions they could get out the door quickly because it didn’t require hardware and it didn’t require software,” said Phil Novack, Salesforce manager of public relations

Salesforce worked closely with William Price, South Africa Tourism global manager of e-marketing. One of the challenges was preparing for an ecosystem that is largely mobile.

“Especially for South Africa, knowing that they have limited internet access but unlimited mobile access, that for William was really big,” Padilla said.

“The reality in South Africa is that computers themselves are a luxury,” Padilla said. “The hard-line internet is a total luxury. However, mobile is ubiquitous. Everybody has a mobile device."

Thus the importance of integrating a Twitter feed to take stress off the call center.

“[Price] needed a solution that would be able to provide all those tools to people via the mobile device, and Twitter’s obviously ubiquitous; you can get Twitter from any mobile device, and that’s why it was so important for them to plug in,” Padilla said.

Salesforce also used Reside to create an Ideas site, which replaced the pen-and-paper surveys South Africa Tourism previously used.

“It’s basically a forum where people can sign in and post their ideas like ‘I really wish there was a cooking or shark-diving class,' some sort of travel and tourism idea that they would potentially be interested in,” Padilla said.

Price expected at least a 10x increase in terms of inquiries during the Cup, so for him Twitter and Ideas were vital ways for deflecting the increase in calls he expected.

The services went live on live on June 11.

Salesforce is used to quick launches, but “this was pretty fast,” Padilla said. “But if a customer comes to us and says ‘we have a matter of five weeks,’ we can do it. It’s all a matter of deciding what pieces they want with that; how many people, how complex is it going to be, and theirs was actually quite complex, including Twitter and Ideas. But Twitter is a cloud company, we’re a cloud company – we talk to each other.”

One of the other challenges for South Africa Tourism stems from the fact that the World Cup is one of the largest international tourist events.

“South Africa Tourism was used to providing language support for English, French and German – the bigger Western languages,” Novack said. “Because of the World Cup you had to add a whole bunch of agents and then people who could handle Spanish, Portuguese and a lot of the Asian languages as well. That’s what’s so impressive about the condensed startup time, that they were able to expand their language support in distributed areas, too.”

“So if somebody would call into the call center, they would recognize through the speech-recognition technology what language that person speaks and then they would route the call appropriately,” Padilla said.

Padilla has seen a massive shift in cloud computing since when she first joined Salsesforce.

“I remember when I joined six years ago, at least in the enterprise space, everyone was afraid of the cloud, and they weren’t sure,” Padilla said. “But with enterprise it’s really changed; it’s night and day from when I started, to now when I feel like every large company is talking about what their overall cloud strategy is.”

By Mark Alvarez