Is Chatbot a blessing in disguise for Salesforce?

By Pratap Prem, BDM, Imaginea Inc.

Wonder why the technology titans Microsoft, Google & Facebook are all investing heavily in the much hyped Chatbots? In recent time, there were some big-league announcements – Bot Framework from Microsoft, Messenger Bot from Facebook & Virtual Assistant Bot from Google.

While Chatbot has been on its primal for the past few decades; today, they are more powerful than ever imagined. They leverage natural language processing powered by artificial intelligence & APIs to deliver rich conversations which are productive & fun. The implication are significant for businesses; this means new channels to connect & engage with customers, agile communication & improved operational efficiency.

AI powered Chatbot in its nascent stages, but evolving fast

Remember the Microsoft Tay Bot? The innocent twitter bot turned into a racist within 24 hours by posting offensive tweets. It’s a classic example of how an early stage technology can become a huge embarrassment when checks & controls are not in place. And when you are dealing with customers, you don’t want to be taking any chances.

While there are setbacks, one has to recognize the new business opportunities & possibilities that Chatbot offer. The technology is maturing & evolving fast with advancements in AI & Machine Learning. It’s not surprising to see renewed interest from investors & startups. Some early movers are creating flutters in the market.

PizzaHut, for instance, has announced a bot that makes ordering Pizza as simple as chatting with your friend. The goal of the bot is not just to make ordering easy, but also to help improve the accuracy and eliminate wait time.

Chatbot with Salesforce Service Cloud

Imagine running your Salesforce Service Cloud with Chatbot. What would it mean to your business? Faster customer response, more contextual & personalized communication, reduction in customer service cost, improved operational efficiency & more. What truly makes Chatbot more powerful is – not only will they respond to your customer queries, they have the capability to trigger action based on the conversation. For instance – sending automated reports to customer, sending the bill details, taking customer complaints & assigning technical staff and more.

Chatbot for Sales Efficiency

Recent research highlights that about 45% of the employee activities can be automated with technology. In the United States alone, these activities represent about $2 trillion in annual wages. Chatbot is also seen as a next generation workforce productivity & automation tool. They are almost like a personal virtual assistant doing your work.
Research shows that an average sales person spends about 60% of the time in doing non-core sales activity. Most of these non-core activities can be automated by Chatbot. The bot can send you the Salesforce report, trigger your campaign, reply to customer – they truly are the personal sales assistant we have been waiting for.

Where to start with Salesforce Chatbot

While, you can always choose to develop your bot from the scratch – there are prefab frameworks available today which will dramatically reduce your development effort. Microsoft bot framework for instance features Bot Connectors which helps you to connect your bot(s) to SMS, mail, etc. & Bot Builder SDKs with extensive libraries, tools & chat emulators.

While building Chatbots for business, it’s critical to have ‘Business-Safe’ controls in place. You don’t want your bot to send out offensive messages – do you? A real-time bot monitoring system with automated alerts can help you have better control.

In summary – Chatbot as a technology is promising and can be the next disruption in the card. However, it’s important to recognize the current limitation. For businesses looking to adopt the technology, recommendation would be to have greater control mechanisms.