Salesforce Introduces Einstein Chatbot Templates, Voice Still Not an Option
Salesforce announced plans this week to add templates to its Einstein Bots platform for chatbots. The conversational AI platform will offer an assortment of pre-built but customizable chatbots for various customer service needs, reducing the amount of programming necessary to create them. The expanded conversational AI options don’t include the return of Einstein as a voice assistant after its shutdown last summer, but it fits with the resurgence of chatbots in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Salesforce’s Einstein Bots are adaptable chatbots the company’s clients use for handling basic customer service like looking up information or completing a product return. The conversational AI understands casual language and mimics a human in its responses. The chatbots have required at least some coding by the clients, but the new templates streamline that to answering a few questions, filling in some specifics and uploading the requisite visuals and database links. The templates are in previews right now and scheduled to debut in the fall.
The pre-built bots are part of Salesforce’s plans for helping businesses adjust to the slowly reopening world as more people become vaccinated. The company unveiled the new AI-powered planning and prediction tool for contact centers for similar reasons. The new Service Cloud Workforce Engagement attempts to map out the number and method customers will be reaching out to help managers plan accordingly. The chatbot templates can take up some of the deluge where the questions and requests aren’t too complicated. Even with the current platform, Einstein Bot conversations spiked enormously over the last year, rising 706% and driving four out of every five service decision-makers to speed up their plans for integrating digital technology like chatbots, according to Salesforce.
“We are on the cusp of a great reopening of society, and companies know they need to move quickly to seize the moment,” Salesforce CEO Clara Shih said. “While customers and companies alike are eager to return to in-person experiences, digital behaviors we learned and grew accustomed to during the pandemic are here to stay.”
Chatbots and virtual agents of both text and voice varieties have become widely popular over the last year, especially in healthcare, with many launching to answer questions about the coronavirus. Plenty of other businesses followed suit as companies sought to maintain customer service operations despite the avalanche of inquiries that the pandemic engendered. New chatbots and platforms proliferated, such as XAPP AI’s Conversational Self Service for Contact Center Intelligence. Venture capitalists hurled money at chatbot startups as well, with significant rounds announced regularly, including $14 million for higher-ed chatbot platform AdmitHub in February, Rasa’s $26 million round last June, and the eye-popping $100 million raised by Gupshup earlier this month.
The Einstein Bots are only text, as the voice assistant officially ended last July, two years after debuting and just months after starting to allow clients to build their own custom voice assistants. Though voice AI is still a part of Einstein’s analytics and advising services, it’s not a vocal conversation with the AI anymore. The voice assistant team mainly went to work on the Salesforce Anywhere App, a set of remote work collaborative tools, which was certainly in demand over the last year. You can talk to Einstein, the virtual human, a project just launched by UneeQ, but he isn’t much for customer service.