Saleforce brings bot conversations, SMS, Facebook Messenger to Service Cloud

The gist of LiveMessage is that companies should be able to connect to customers and service them as a friend-to-friend interaction would occur via an app like Facebook Messenger.

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Salesforce on December 13 outlined LiveMessage, a conversational service available for Service Cloud that aims to connect consumers and enterprise via text messaging and apps.

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The gist of LiveMessage is that companies should be able to connect to customers and service them as a friend-to-friend interaction would occur via an app like Facebook Messenger. Salesforce acquired HeyWire in September for the underlying technology behind LiveMessage.

Salesforce said LiveMessage will start at $75 per user per month based on one messaging service like SMS. Companies can add Facebook Messenger and other apps in the future with bulk discounts.

As for the integration of LiveMessage and Service Cloud, bots will handle multiple tasks, but have the intelligence to trade up to agents in case an order would need to be changed. Enterprises can also use LiveMessage to crate bots to gather data and answer questions.

Meredith Flynn-Ripley, vice president of product for Messaging and Service Cloud at Salesforce, said the bet is that messaging and bots will likely be favored to voice for customer service issues. "We are blending bots and people to allow agents to do what they do best," she said.

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Salesforce will also roll out its application programming interface for LiveMessage to its customers under a bring your own bot program. That program allows enterprises to use third party bots too, said Flynn-Ripley. "About a third of Service Cloud customers are using bots to gather info and answer questions," she said.

Newell's Crockpot unit is an early customer of LiveMessaging and is working with Salesforce to move beyond simple SMS messaging to solve customer problems.

The return on investment for LiveMessage would be relatively straightforward. An agent can run seven simultaneous LiveMessages at a time so there's a productivity bump. Meanwhile, messaging costs anywhere from 25 percent to 50 percent less than customer service via phone.

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