girl Ai chatbot digital image credit Pixabay/GeraltSalesforce has announced several new AI solutions for Service Cloud. In addition it has integrated Quip to deliver enhanced collaboration functionality to service teams. Salesforce has also released its annual State of Service report for 2019. Enterprise Times spoke to Martha Walchuk, Senior Director of Product Marketing, Service Cloud, Salesforce about the announcements.

Service operations are evolving and adopting AI.

Martha Walchuk, Senior Director of Product Marketing, Service Cloud, Salesforce (Image credit Linkedin)
Martha Walchuk, Senior Director of Product Marketing, Service Cloud, Salesforce

As service operations evolve they are looking to increase efficiency within their organisations. One of the tools that they are looking to adopt is AI. Salesforce is aiming to meet that need with its latest functional solutions supported by Einstein. These new solutions help service agents answer queries, semi automating the process in many cases. One of the findings from the survey supports this approach, it is not about AI replacing humans but supporting them.

Walchuk noted that the state of service report findings supported this view. She commented: “80% of service decision makers believe that AI is most effective when it is deployed with, rather than in place of humans. That is very core to how we are investing in our technology in order to empower agents.”

Salesforce is announcing four new capabilities

  • Einstein Reply Recommendations: Einstein provides natural language processing to understand chat and messaging comments. It then recommends the best answers based on the question asked. An agent can then select the recommendation or enter a new answer, combining the human understanding and the deep AI knowledge. Einstein uses the answers given to improve its own answers over time. Walchuk confirmed that the data set used belongs to each customer and is for their specific use cases. It is available in pilot with no release date or pricing yet issued by Salesforce.
  • Einstein Article Recommendations: This checks the documentation with a corporate library to see if there is an existing answer to the customer question. If so, Einstein will offer the best document up so that the agent can access it or if relevant send it on to the customer. For example a customer wants to locate a part in a specific model of a product. Einstein will pull up the relevant manual for the service agent to look at. It is available in pilot with no release date or pricing yet issued by Salesforce.
  • Einstein Next Best Action: Sometimes it is not just information that the customer requires. Einstein can also suggest the next action an agent should take when interaction with the customer. This could include offering to deliver a spare part. It could also include opportunities for up-selling or cross selling. According to Walchuk these rules can be configured within a wider strategic framework by the customer. For example, during critical incidents agents would not be delivered up-selling actions that may decrease customer satisfaction. The solution is generally available now and included within Service Cloud Einstein. Service Cloud Einstein is available as an add-on to Service cloud and is priced at $50 per user per month.
  • Einstein Case Routing: This takes auto attendant to the next level of sophistication. It introduces routing based on known criteria related to the issue. This allows a case to be routed to the right individuals either in the first instance or during the escalation process. It is available in pilot with no release date or pricing yet issued by Salesforce.

Empowering collaboration

The second major announcement is the availability of Quip in Service Cloud. Previously, service agents would have used Salesforce Chatter to enhance conversations internally and deliver service externally. With Quip for Service agents can now create, update and collaborate on documents and spreadsheets across their organisation. This should help to improve the customer experience.

Agents are now able to draw in product experts from across the organisation and provides them with a richer collaboration tool to help solve customer problems. It means that those experts can provide images and documentation on the fly. These are then fed into the knowledge base for future support calls. Quip for Service is generally available now and included within Quip Enterprise when added to Service Cloud for $25 per user per month.

The changing role of the Service Agent

All this means that the role of the service agent is changing. This is supported by the findings in the state of service report which states:

  • 88 percent of high-performing service organisations will make significant investments in agent training this year.
  • 82 percent of service leaders acknowledge their company’s customer service function must transform to stay competitive.
  • 71 percent saying their jobs are more strategic than just two years ago.
  • 75 percent saying their organisations now view them as brand ambassadors.

Walchuk highlighted the changing role saying: How we see this changing customer service is we are bringing the agent console of the future. We are empowering agent to handle a more complex a wider variety of issues. So that they can focus on that personal interaction with the customer. Impact the customer experience and focus on that human element of service which customers want.”

This raises two key questions: How is that role changing and what training is being delivered? Walchuk continued: “With AI coming in to support the agents we are seeing that change the training that is required and that is where we are investing… The training that we are delivering has a couple of elements to it we have Trailhead trails for soft skills such as how do you de-escalate a stress situation or build a relationship with a customer.

“As agents are working on more complex cases and they are expected to know how to solve a wide variety of cases this is where training is required not only for the soft skills but also how to work with new technologies.”

Enterprise Times: What does this mean

Salesforce is infusing Einstein AI throughout its portfolio. Service Cloud is the latest to benefit from the latest round of functionality. It already has Einstein Bots and Einstein Case Classification. These latest solutions deliver augmentation that will enable service agents to transform their role. According to Salesforce, this is not be about replacing agents with AI but about changing their role to one that delivers added value both to the company they work for and its customers.

As Quip becomes more integrated throughout Salesforce customers, it will also become a viable alternative to office automation tools such as Microsoft Office. Whether companies make the shift completely is open to question. As users start to adopt and see the advantage of Quip embedded within Salesforce, it may signal the end for corporate wide office licenses.

Salesforce is now delivering real value with Einstein solutions as it looks to leverage the investment it has made over the last few years. The solutions seem to be targeted at larger organisations that have the sufficient depth of data for Einstein to analyse. Salesforce has not yet leveraged the data it holds for any industry specific solutions. It will be interesting to see whether it, or groups of its customers, look to do so.


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