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First introduced as a beta-version at Dreamforce in November 2017, Salesforce Einstein Bots for Service have now become generally available for interaction with customers in Live Agent. It has been almost two years since Salesforce launched its Einstein AI platform with a view to infusing AI capabilities everywhere throughout its clouds.
Just as Artificial Intelligence is irrevocably transforming sales and marketing processes through end-to-end automation, so too AI-driven, real-time Bot technologies are revolutionizing the way brands interact and engage with customers.
The concept of computers communicating like humans was first investigated by Alan Turing way back in 1950s, with the first well-known chatbot ELIZA being introduced in 1966 by Joseph Weizenbaum. The earlier versions of chatbots were far from being perfect hitting a roadblock every time they stumbled upon any word in the input that wasn’t included into a list of keywords they were programmed to recognize. With the recent advances in Artificial Intelligence and machine learning, chatbots have become a way smarter and more accurate in understanding customers’ needs than they used to be decades ago, and in 2016 we could witness the first wave of AI-powered Bot technologies, that paved the way to a new era of conversational user interface.
Technological advances and innovations have spoiled consumers and raised the bar for consumer expectations about speed and convenience, since they afford an opportunity to instantly meet the customers’ ever increasing need for speed that inevitably impacts how customers want to engage with brands. Expecting everything on demand and having less patience than ever before, the new generation of time-sensitive consumers eagerly trade human interaction for the immediacy and instant gratification chatbots provide.
To that end, we can safely claim that AI-empowered bots are here to stay.
What are Einstein Bots all About?
Being part of Service Cloud, Einstein Bots are intended to automate the process of responding to routine customer service requests as well as augment customer service agents to provide customers with a seamless, hassle-free digital service experience they have come to expect today. They are programmed to simulate a natural human conversation, chatting to the customer in much the same manner human agents would usually do.
Based on what a customer is typing, Einstein Bot framework predicts the customer’s intent through the Einstein Intent Service and routes the customer to a specific dialogue best suited for the customer’s input. This is the more sophisticated mode of the two available to run your Einstein Bot, since it requires generating exhaustive lists of intents for every dialogue and training the system to interpret the intent of the message being typed. The more intents you come up with, the more relevant and accurate the intent prediction will be.
The easier and 100% accurate – though limited – mode is Menu / Button mode. That is a menu type interface in the chat window, that opens the menu of options once a customer starts chatting, with the most common questions revolving around Account Login, Order Status, Returns, Order Changes, Warranty Claim Statuses, Store Locators, Shipment Tracking Information, and other technical questions.
Powered by machine learning and Natural Language Processing, Einstein Bots are supposed to continuously learn and improve over time to get better understanding of what customers want.
What makes Einstein Bots different from its counterparts like Microsoft Bot Platform, Amazon Lex, Google Dialogflow, Alibaba Intelligent Service Robot, and the like is that they are fully integrated into the Salesforce platform. What’s more, the technology allows companies to create Bots deeply connected to CRM Data, Customer Service Data, Previous Live Chat Transcript Data, Case Data, Knowledge Base Data, and any Back End System Data.
What Does it Mean for Salesforce Users?
1. Instantaneous Responsiveness and Fastest Issue Resolution
Given that customer service agents can handle one customer service request at a time no matter how proficient they are, embedding the Bot technology into Service Cloud is sure to become a game changer for businesses in that respect.
Anyone who has ever tried to contact a company through a call center knows how slow and daunting the entire process can be even when there are enough service agents in place. With customer expectations higher than ever before due to technological advancements, long wait times are now in disfavor with impatient customers.
However, with AI-powered customer service customers do not have to wait long until their queries are eventually responded to, as well as companies do not have to hire more staff to handle multiple requests, which can come out to be cost-prohibitive. That way, it’s a win-win.
If a customer query is too complex for Einstein Bot to process, it automatically escalates an issue to an available human agent who continues the dialogue where it was left off armed with the necessary contextual information Einstein Bot has gathered for them to seamlessly go on with the chat. This allows service reps not to put a customer on hold in order to search for an answer or collect the necessary customer data.
2. Always-on Customer Support
Einstein Bots will give customers the opportunity to get their urgent needs met anytime, anywhere, whatever the time zone. Provided with 24/7 service 365 days a year, customers won’t now have to wait long hours or even days to get their issues resolved, which means a lot for companies as it is expected to drastically impact customer satisfaction that relies heavily on the speed of service nowadays.
The culture of customer immediacy fueled by mobile technologies, push notifications, text messages, and the like has dramatically altered the way customers interact with companies. Specifically, 64% of customers expect companies to deal with their queries in real time as soon as they receive them. The same holds true for business buyers – 80 % of them long for real-time interactions while seeking assistance.
3. Unprecedented Personalization Through Big Data
Previously it was much of a hassle for businesses to collect and analyze customer information before they could make informed decisions. Now, AI-driven chatbots are capable of sifting through and collecting mountains of customer data, which will enable businesses to understand key details about their target audience and thereby deliver an unprecedented personalized customer service based on factual accurate data rather than taking intuitive decisions based on false suppositions, be it giving product recommendations or offering personal promo codes.
This is particularly significant for boosting customer loyalty, given that more and more customers, especially Millennials, are expecting companies to know there purchasing and browsing history and recognize them across every interaction wherever they reach them out with a view to getting more personalized service.
4. Reducing Staff Workload
Collecting routine customer data like name and account number is a time-sapping process. Since Einstein Bots can undertake simple, mundane activities like gathering basic customer information way faster than a human can, they will do a good turn by taking a load off current staff members, thereby freeing up customer service representatives to deal with higher value tasks and handle more complex and sensitive customer driven issues.
5. A More Reliable Service
Customer Service agents are humans, hence they are not perfect and tend to make mistakes as part of their human nature. Einstein Bots, in their turn, are for obvious reasons unlikely to misinterpret customer requests or provide wrong solutions. What’s more, free from any bias, they do not form preconceived opinions. Nor do they get angry and enter into argument with customers driven by emotion. Service reps get tired and bored, but Bots don’t. Service reps fall ill every once in a while, but Bots never. The list can go on and on. Simply put, Einstein Bots are capable of delivering a more reliable customer service than humans can guarantee.
What’s in the Future?
The release of Einstein Bots is definitely a huge deal in many respects. The opportunity to instantly respond to your customer requests without having a service rep involved is sure to go a long way towards increasing Salesforce users’ productivity and reducing customer service costs without compromising quality.
More and more consumers tend to prefer self-service digital options to human interaction when they are looking to get their issues resolved. This is particularly true for tech-savvy Millennials, who have grown up with technology and got used to solving their customer service issues by themselves – be it looking through FAQ pages, forums or using bot services – and thereby set new standards for customer service. Btw, 80% of customers try to get their issues addressed somewhere online, finding calling customer service inconvenient.
That way, adding AI-driven Bots to the customer service will allow business owners to meet the new standards as well as offer a wider range of options so that customers could opt for the channel they consider the most appropriate to engage with the brand, the key phrase here being “a wider range of options”.
The point is that, going all in on Chatbot technology leaving live communication in the back burner is a dead end road. Despite of the growing tendency towards immediacy, chatbots won’t be able to entirely replace human customer service, as human touch is still important in this tech-driven world. There are still people who would prefer to call. So, it’s more reasonable today to think of Einstein Bots as a tool intended to augment human efforts and productivity, and take over some simple repetitive tasks.
What’s more, there are still some considerations. For now, Einstein Bots work in Live Agent only, and will remain available solely on web chat for the rest of the year. Furthermore, it’s English only. In future releases Einstein Bots are expected to be extended to messaging channels, like Facebook Messenger and SMS.
So, what the future of Einstein Bots holds for both Salesforce and its 150,000 customers – it remains to be seen.