It’s been clear for a while that Salesforce has strong aspirations in the contact center space. A few months ago, I wrote Salesforce Has Many Fingers in the Call Center Pie which talked about the introduction of Salesforce Lightning Voice and the many indirect ways that the company was getting involved in the call center.
The recent acquisition of Heywire, and further enhancements of Lightning Voice were logical steps along this path. At their recent Dreamforce event, the “Salesforce for Service” keynote showed examples of what customers are doing today as well as a few hints of where Salesforce is heading. You can watch the full hour here. But if you’re short on time, I’ve extracted 4 segments (2 minutes each) that were the most enlightening. If you’re interested in Salesforce’s collision course with the contact center industry these clips are well worth watching.
Embracing Conversational Commerce
Mike Milburn, GM and SVP of Service Cloud, opens by talking about conversational commerce. That term has become a catch-all for modern customer service communication. You can read about the origins and definition of this term in our New Customer Service Lexicon. Mike explained it as a “conversational gap” between the way people interact (primarily through text-based messaging) and businesses interact with customers.
“There’s a communication gap with your customers… your tools are designed for an era where customers would call you and then you’d be done… but now it’s conversational. We want to give you a piece of technology to use conversational service in your organization… Your customers want to use any channel from the highest touch to the lowest touch or even the new channels where there’s no touch so there’s a bot… we’re introducing to you a conversational service that’s built right into the Service Cloud.”
Where HeyWire Fits In
Salesforce acquired HeyWire in September. Their service allows companies to interact with customers over SMS via toll-free numbers. Forbes had a good write-up about them: Is Texting the Next Solution for Retailers to Field Customer Complaints? The product was already tightly integrated with Salesforce, but now it will be rebranded as a new product called “Salesforce Live Messaging”.
“What we loved about HeyWire was … they’ve already built it and pre-integrated with Salesforce… today you can use this incredible product… introducing “Salesforce Live Message”… capture any SMS conversation that is occurring … turn that 1-800-number into a very useful service channel… Facebook is going to go GA in the winter … then we’re going to open up channels like WeChat and Line … for all those international messaging platforms…”
For more thoughts on the future of messaging and the call center see Chat vs. Messaging Comes Down to Who Owns the Channel.
Einstein in the Call Center
The next section was devoted to Salesforce’s new AI system, Einstein which it says is built-in to the “fabric” of the whole CRM system. The relevant application to the call center is helping to route cases to the right agent, and surfacing internal information to the agents so they can resolve issues more quickly.
“Einstein is going to help us discover and unlock the insights that are currently buried inside of your service organization and with those insights … provide better information to your agents … automatically classify and triage the cases for you … supervisors are going to absolutely love Einstein… [it will] make sure that your agents are in the right queues … dealing with the right customers… Einstein is going to turn your supervisors and managers from lieutenants to generals…”
A Quick Aside:
Please pardon a short rant against using “Einstein” as the persona for an AI initiative: First off, it’s a bad analogy: Einstein had very deep expertise in the narrow field of physics. That’s the opposite of what a “general purpose AI” is trying to be. Second: Einstein is one of a handful of geniuses whose breakthroughs are milestones in humanity’s path from cave dwellers to masters of our world. These people are awe-inspiring. You shouldn’t be able to buy their names and turn them into marketing clichés. “Siri”, “Cortana”, “Nina”… these are all fine. Let’s keep our science legends on a pedestal to inspire future generations. That’s more important than whatever product you’re launching this year. OK, end of rant.
Field Service Lightning Mobile App & IOT
Internet of Things (“IoT”) is at peak “buzz-iness” in 2016. It still seems to me to be an awkward fit with the customer service and call center world, but most call center vendors are working it into their pitch in some way. (See this post in NoJitter.) I think it’s likely this is an artificially created category of technology that will be quietly absorbed into more specific use cases. See IoT is Just a Fad by analyst Dave Michels (member of the Top Call Center Analyst list.)
In the clip below, Milburn introduces “IoT for Service”. It seems that sometimes IoT is talked about as a stand-in for a user: The broken fridge can “call-in” and ask for repair. And sometimes it’s talked about as a channel of communication, as in the last sentence in the transcript below. This might seem nitpicky, but if we’re still unsure about how to talk about IoT, it tells me we’re still trying to figure out what role it’s going to play.
“Your products can connect back to Salesforce… we can listen to billions of events and detect irregularities… and create cases… a case will automatically be created and routed to the service center … [there a] supervisor uses omni-channel supervisor to get a high-level business view of his service operation …how long [agents are] taking on certain cases… cases being served on multiple channels like phone, chat, SMS, IoT cloud …”