Today's guest blogger is Aaron Robinson, an Engagement Manager with Sonoma Partners.
As the year comes to a close, Salesforce is wrapping up their New York World Tour - one of many for the coming year.
Even if you only watched with one eye open, you probably picked up on the common theme driving the conversation around the Salesforce platform – artificial intelligence, or AI for short.
While most people's personal experience with AI is probably summed up in the decades of sci-fi movies, it has inched its way into the consumer world of apps we use everyday. I would be willing to bet most people don’t even recognize AI in action when they see it, which is partly the beauty of having intelligent applications. Ever wonder how Netflix knows which movies to recommend for you or how Pandora can play hours of music you will enjoy without you having to select each individual song? These types of algorithms and the predictive power amassed by AI drives these types of little life improvements. Its the tip of the iceberg in terms of what we will see in the future, and if you want a little taste of how life changing this can be, take a ride in a self-driving Tesla.
AI for the (Business User) Masses
One of the great things that Salesforce is known for is marketing, and they do marketing on their own products about as well as anyone. AI has been taking shape in the technology world in many different forms because it’s such a broad topic – natural language processing, activity recognition, bots, machine learning, and sentiment analysis. There are many more, but Salesforce wishes to embody the spirit of their brand of AI into something easily recognizable and understood by anyone who encounters it. And what better way than to identify with one of the most revered human minds that ever existed: Albert Einstein. Also in traditional Salesforce style, they have created a cute and crazy haired little persona for their branded technology.
Salesforce Einstein is branded as “the first comprehensive AI for CRM.” Salesforce has integrated artificial intelligence technologies into the underlying platform to make their Customer Success Platform smarter and more importantly, usable by the average business user without the need for significant training. Salesforce states their differentiation in the marketplace in three key pillars:
- Data-ready — You don’t have to do data preparation or manage models. Just put the data in Salesforce, and it works.
- Modeling-ready — Multi-tenant, automated machine learning means the right model automatically fits to your organization.
- Production-ready — No DevOps needed. It’s part of the same trusted Salesforce platform, with model management and monitoring tools.
All of the available clouds offered by Salesforce can take advantage of Einstein as its built into the platform layer of the application, shown in the graphic below. Einstein encompasses those forms of AI which I mentioned previously such as predictive analytics, machine and deep learning as well as natural language processing.
The Smarts in Action
During the various cloud keynotes, Einstein was shown in action, driving analysis and serving up logical next steps to help improve various outcomes.
Sales Cloud Smarts
The Einstein conversation around sales focuses around leads and opportunities and how we can identify and develop the customers who have not only just raised their hands, but performed actions to tell you they are serious about your product or service. Depending on the industry, market, regulation, or service, selling always comes with its unique set of challenges. But what if your CRM platform could help evaluate how your sales team should be spending their time, recommend best next steps, and even facilitate automated follow-up? Ultimately, this would help focus their time to managing relationships and providing true engagement before, during, and after the sale.
For the Sales Cloud user, the goal is to help your reps sell smarter with the help of Einstein. Salesforce starts you on the process with two key features: Predictive Lead Scoring and Opportunity Insights. For the inside sales team, predictive lead scoring ranks their leads in Salesforce using the attribute data. The insights pane on the lead will not only show a score but also the factors from the lead record that influenced the score, including lead data and activity performed by the individual tied to the lead. Assuming you’re using some related Salesforce marketing technology, you can even view a history of the engagement with the individual, including website visits, meeting acceptance, and from completion. This allows the rep to have a more intelligent and engaged conversation around your product or service.
Service Cloud Smarts
Providing great service isn’t just about solving a case quickly, but in the consumers’ eyes a connected and “conversational” approach to service. As a consumer with a basis towards the use of CRM systems, I’m totally befuddled by my interactions today with service reps, and the experience leaves me feeling like they know nothing about me. Not only does Salesforce help to bridge that gap, but they are using Einstein to serve up relevant information to the agent at the time of service to make that interaction personal and engaging.
To do this, Salesforce is enabling some new functionality, such as engaging customer through SMS text messaging, chat through Facebook messenger, and enabling Service Cloud bots. These features will help to drive quicker connection for service. But the real power comes through in how Einstein can help improve the customer interaction.
Take this scenario, talked about during the Service Cloud key and a real frustration of mine when I call for service. Imagine chatting with an agent for support, only for them to ask if you mind being put on hold while they do a bit of research. And often that first hold isn’t enough, but they will come back and ask repeatedly for you to hold. With help from Einstein, agents can get recommendations based on the information they have collected, to help guide the experience in real-time, versus having to make the customer wait while the agent searches for a solution. And as cases get resolved, the system only gets more intelligent using the actions performed to solve the case to better predict how to solve similar cases in the future.
Marketing Cloud Smarts
Now why should sales and service get all the cool tools? Well, in Salesforce they don’t. Marketing is also served up a healthy dose of IQ points to make their engagement more effective. Consider a few of the following use cases conveyed during the Einstein Keynote...
Marketers can utilize the Journey Builder to build smart journeys that are individualized by the specific customer’s preferences. One such feature is the Smart Split which determines what are the best channels to reach a customer based on their preferences. Einstein will analyze the activity for a given customer to determine which channel is most likely to illicit a response – for customer A this may be email, while for customer B is might be text, and customer C is a Facebook ad. When a customer reaches this step in the journey, Salesforce will use the appropriate channel for that targeted communication. A similar intelligent path is based on time – when is the most optimal time to send the message to a customer. Using a time-optimized step in the flow, the message can be sent at the optimal time for the particular consumer. And this is just the beginning, so check out the keynote in full to see other options for features like predictive vision services (in beta) for product recommendations.
The Future is Here
At first blush, this is very compelling. It can be applied to such a wide range of challenges for different industries and business models. The part to keep in mind is that while it seems tempting to just jump in head first, it’s important to look at your business and where there are processes that can be improved with the use of AI. Also, there are distinct use cases where Einstein makes sense today, so it’s important to make sure your use cases match those. In the upcoming releases for 2017, we’ll look for improvements to Einstein and how that can be leveraged even further.
If you’re interested to learn more, head over to the Salesforce’s Trailhead and search for Einstein. If you’re curious how Salesforce Einstein can potentially help improve your business, we’d be happy to talk to you as well.