There is a shift happening in the customer service community. Words like service, support and even call center are being replaced by new phrases like customer engagement and customer experience. The refrain recently has been “customer service is a marketing opportunity.” At Dreamforce today in the Service Cloud keynote address, Salesforce SVP and GM Mike Milburn laid out their new messaging. Prior to Dreamforce I posted my trends to watch, two of which were scale and community. Today’s keynote proved me right on both counts.”Turn customers into advocates and evangelists by solving their issues,” is how Milburn opened the keynote as he went on to announce new product features which included improved community functionality, signaling a move beyond servicing customers to a broader focus on customer experience. In an era of pervasive media and pervasive communications transparency is forced on organizations as many of their customer interactions are playing out in more public forums and social platforms. And these conversations are not just between brands and their customers. Conversations are taking place between customers ABOUT brands. Increasingly, it’s customers who are pitching in to help each other out in lieu of a customer service interaction with the brand itself. This is creating a new dynamic that is extending beyond customer service to be part of a broader corporate narrative. Happy customers say nice things about your brand. Even happier and more motivated customers become something even more powerful: advocates. Brand advocates play a large role in one of the challenges brought on by the ever increasing sprawl of available communication channels: how do you scale? Technology improvements can improve the power and efficiency of individual customer service agents, but the challenge is to not sacrifice the customer experience. Very often the resolution is best served by a personal touch. Activating and supporting brand advocate communities can provide a powerful enhancement to your customer service initiatives. “Customer Experience is the new differentiator,” said Milburn. It has overtaken price and product as a brand differentiator. While definitions for customer experience vary it’s clear that, as E*Trade CMO Liza Landsman came on stage to point out, “the lines between service, sales and marketing have blurred.” In a world where, more often, your product is only as good as your service look for marketing directors, sales managers and customer service managers to pour energy and resources into building strong communities of brand advocates.