Today Salesforce announced the next release of its Service Cloud. It brings together more Einstein AI as part of the Service Cloud and adds Quip to it. This enables more agent empowerment and efficient work. In order to augment the tools with the necessary knowledge and soft skills, Salesforce also just launched Trailblazers for the Future, a program that is targeted towards increasing the soft skills of service managers and service agents.
Einstein now is delivering reply suggestions as well as article suggestions to inquiries that the service representative can easily use to reply to questions. At the same time Einstein suggests so called next best actions that are designed to help increase satisfaction and unearth cross- and upsell opportunities. Additionally, Einstein now optimizes case routing leveraging machine-learning processes on the inquiry to find the ideal queue for processing it.
Additionally, Salesforce embedded the collaboration tool Quip into the Service Cloud to increase productivity and to increase service agents’ access to knowledge.
The press release is here but for your convenience you can read it below.
The Press Release
Salesforce Empowers Service Agents with Einstein AI and Quip for Service
Service Cloud expands Einstein AI portfolio with new intelligent recommendation and routing capabilities so agents can spend more time where it matters most — building customer relationships and solving complex problems
New Quip for Service boosts agent productivity with incident swarming and cross-team collaboration available directly in the agent console
SAN FRANCISCO—March 19, 2019—Salesforce [NYSE: CRM], the global leader in CRM, today announced new artificial intelligence and productivity solutions that empower customer service agents to focus more of their time on the human side of service — tasks that require social intelligence, critical thinking and creative problem solving skills. As customer service rapidly evolves from a reactive back-office function to one that impacts every stage of the customer’s journey, service agents are continually asked to do more. With new AI-powered recommendations, automated routing, and embedded productivity and collaboration capabilities, Salesforce is reimagining the agent experience to meet the needs of today’s connected customer.
From Case-Centric to Customer-Centric: The Service Agent’s Role is Evolving
Service agents are on the front lines of all customer interactions, from the moment a consumer begins researching products all the way through to post-sale support. And while agents have historically not had the necessary resources to deliver world-class customer experiences, that is now changing. According to the third edition of the Salesforce State of Service report released today, 82 percent of service leaders acknowledge their company’s customer service function must transform to stay competitive, and 77 percent of service organizations plan to make significant investments in agent training this year. This is causing a dramatic shift in the service agent’s role, with 71 percent saying their jobs are more strategic than just two years ago and 75 percent saying their organizations now view them as brand ambassadors by their companies.
Making Agents Smarter with Einstein for Service
Over the last three years Salesforce has embedded new AI capabilities into Service Cloud — such as Einstein Bots and Einstein Case Classification — to make the agent console more intelligent and the agent’s job easier. Building on this, the AI innovations being announced today are:
- Einstein Reply Recommendations uses natural language processing to instantly suggest the best responses to agents over chat and messaging, so they can save time and improve the quality of replies to customer inquiries. And using a machine learning model that learns what has worked over time, Einstein Article Recommendations automatically recommends the best knowledge articles to agents, giving them the information they need to solve cases quickly.
- Einstein Next Best Action leverages business rules and predictive intelligence to suggest the best course of action at the point of maximum impact during agent-customer interactions, helping to increase customer satisfaction and uncover cross-sell opportunities.
- Einstein Case Routing fully automates the routing process with machine learning that filters cases to the right queue or agent based on preset criteria, such as who is best qualified to solve them based on expertise or past outcomes.
Making Agents More Productive with Quip for Service
Agents often spend more time hunting down answers than focusing on customer engagement given how difficult the collaboration process can be — corralling input from multiple teams, hunting for answers or documentation, and switching between multiple applications when doing so. Now with Quip for Service, agents have a productivity and collaboration tool embedded directly within the agent console:
- Quip for Service enables agents to co-author documents, bring in subject matter experts across the business to swarm on complex problems, and have live collaborative conversations directly within the case record.
- Admins can build and easily publish flexible Quip templates in the agent console, as well as customize them based on different use cases and specific organizational needs.
Einstein AI and Quip for Service in Action
Together, these new features will fundamentally change how service agents get their work done. For example, when a customer contacts a manufacturer about a malfunctioning refrigerator, Einstein Case Routing will automatically complete the case details and route it to the right agent for faster service. Einstein Article Recommendations will then automatically provide the agent with knowledge articles containing technical details on how to fix the product. Alternately, if the customer reaches out via chat, Einstein Reply Recommendations will instantly suggest responses to the customer’s questions to the agent. Should the agent need to enlist product experts across the company to help fix the refrigerator, Quip for Service allows them to collaborate directly in the agent console, then capture that solution to be used again in the future. Finally, based on the conversation and the customer’s purchase history, Einstein Next Best Action flags that the customer qualifies for a free extended warranty, then walks the agent through the registration process. All of the guesswork is removed, and both the customer and agent have a better overall experience.
Skilling Up the 21st Century Workforce
Empowering companies with the right technology only solves part of the challenge, as access to training is another significant obstacle customer service organizations face. To address this, Salesforce offers training programs and networking opportunities that provide managers and agents with the skills they need to bring their contact centers into the digital era and accelerate their career growth. These include the Trailblazers for the Future regional workshops hosted by Salesforce employees and customers, Trailhead content on service related issues, Service Cloud Specialist Certifications, and direct access to a community of 25,000+ service agents. Learn more at: https://www.salesforce.com/events/trailblazers-for-the-future/
Comments on the News
- “We are living in a new age of service where today’s customer expects great experiences at every stage of the buying cycle and across any channel, making the agent’s role more critical and more challenging than ever before,” said Bill Patterson, EVP and GM, Service Cloud, Salesforce. “With these innovations we are empowering agents to rise to the occasion with a console built for modern customer service that is intelligent, collaborative and connected.”
- “At Overstock we are constantly looking for new technologies that will help us continue to adapt to our customers’ needs and deliver personalized experiences,” said Kamelia Aryafar, Chief Customer and Algorithms Officer, Overstock.com. “Einstein AI has shown in our pilot tests that it has the potential to help us meet those needs by recommending offers and perks that our care associates can offer customers based on their shopping history and past interactions. Ultimately, Salesforce is helping us provide our customers a more personalized, human experience.”
- “Tapping into Einstein helps us get maximum value from the information stored in our Salesforce CRM, and with that data we have been able to optimize all of our customer service department’s internal processes,” said Zenconnect CEO Yann Mercier. “After implementing Einstein AI to automatically classify cases, our customer service agents saw 25 percent productivity gains, freeing them up to focus on higher level projects.”
Salesforce Empowers Companies to Transform Customer Service
Service Cloud, the world’s #1 customer service platform, empowers every service employee from the contact center to the field with the innovative tools, unified data, and embedded training needed to deliver world-class customer service. Across every channel — whether it’s messaging, communities, chat, phone, in-person, or IoT signals — Service Cloud is enabling Trailblazers to put the customer at the heart of every service moment and deliver personalized, consistent, transformative experiences.
- Get more details on the State of Service report at: salesforce.com/blog/2019/03/customer-service-trends.html
- Learn more about Quip for Salesforce in this blog post: https://www.salesforce.com/blog/2019/03/introducing-quip-for-salesforce.html
- To learn more about Service Cloud, go to: https://www.salesforce.com/service-cloud/overview/
- To learn more about Quip, go to: https://quip.com/quip-for-service
Availability and Pricing
- Einstein Next Best Action is generally available and included within Service Cloud Einstein, an add-on to Service Cloud, for $50 per user per month.
- Quip for Service is generally available and included within Quip Enterprise when added to Service Cloud for $25 per user per month.
- Einstein Article Recommendations, Reply Recommendations and Case Routing are currently in pilot. Pricing information will be made available at general availability.
The Bigger Picture
These times are characterized by the fact that products and services are becoming increasingly interchangeable. As a consequence, companies need to find another means of distinguishing themselves from their competition.
This other way is the ability to engage in a way that results in positive experiences.
On the other hand, the profession of service agents is surely one of the more stressful ones, albeit crucial for experiences. Service agents need to balance a high degree of empathy, knowledge, and the ability to deal with simple and complex topics in parallel.
At the same time the range of topics they need to cover is increasing and service becomes less of a post-purchase only offering. Customers demand – and have the right to demand – answers at nearly every place and time of their individual customer journey.
The way to address this double challenge is to empower service agents by not only giving them responsibility but also authority and room to take decisions.
In order to be able to this one needs to give them two things:
- Agents need the right tools that help them concentrate on the tasks where humans excel by offloading those that are dull and repetitive. Solving these is something the machine excels in.
- The second thing, an agent needs is ready access to education and knowledge. This means training and an available network of knowledgeable colleagues.
My PoV and Analysis
With this release Salesforce continues on the track that was paved last July, when the company infused Einstein into the Service Cloud. And they strengthen the Service Cloud by giving service agents what they need to be successful, with Trailblazers for the Future being the icing on the cake. This type of crowdsourcing is a stroke of genius. Einstein takes away the duller parts of the work by suggesting replies and knowledge articles, which can be directly incorporated into the chat. According to Peter White, Sr. Director Product Management, Einstein learns from service agent interactions to improve reply accuracy, i.e. Einstein takes into account which or whether suggested replies are used.
The addition of Quip to the Service Cloud is important for the ability to deal with more complicated inquiries/incidents. It allows the access to and documentation of additional knowledge and therefore may speed up the resolution of a service case.
However, there are caveats. Using a collaboration tool like this has the potential of disrupting the experts that get asked and who may or may not have the time to reply to inquiries. Secondly, it is important that the documents that get created through Quip are used by Einstein in order to be able to suggest more reply and possibly articles in reply to a customer inquiry.
Which leads me to two ideas that might improve the Service Cloud even further.
- It would be interesting to add the ability of suggesting the best matched expert to be contacted via Quip. Based upon knowledge ranking Einstein should be easily able to do this. Sources for this could include answers given by the persons, amongst others. All in all this could result in something that is similar to the ranking that is used in communities. Combined with an availability status the quality of replies could even increase while the whole inquiry process becomes less disruptive to the workforce.
- Based upon the constant creation of new codified knowledge it might be interesting look into the ability of creating micro articles, which then are combined into an individualized whole article that then is given back to the customer. This way, the relevance of replies increases, which in turn results in higher customer satisfaction.
As said, these are ideas. Overall I was impressed by what I have seen and got told. It is clear that Salesforce will continue to stay one of the top contenders when it comes to service functionalities.