We live in an era where messaging programs have overtaken phone calls for personal interactions, so why shouldn't companies be able to interact with their customers the same way?
This question was the impetus for LiveMessage, announced today by Salesforce.com as a new addition to its Service Cloud. LiveMessage allows companies to engage with customers using the messaging platform of their choice, including SMS, text, and Facebook Messenger.
"Messaging is most dominant communication in every daily lives. It's the channel of choice. SMS, text, Facebook Messenger, and other programs are used domestically and internationally," says Bobby Amezaga, senior director of Service Cloud product marketing at Salesforce.com. "Texts are easier and more convenient—you have a contextual relationship with person you are texting—so why can't businesses do the same with customers the way we do with family friends?"
Salesforce Service cloud is a solution for customer service organizations to connect with customers on any channel, whether that is voice, email, chat or mobile. LiveMessage moves the offering toward more omnichannel capabilities because, while omnichannel has been a key goal, truly interactive choice-based messaging platforms have been absent.
Integrated into Salesforce's Service Cloud, that provides data and insights to marketing, sales, and service-oriented employees companywide,Live Message is part of the Salesforce's directive to make tools available to customer service agents to empower them to be more insightful and intelligent. Built on an established platform, LiveMessage can connect to back-end legacy systems like Oracle and others that have software and hardware to deliver service and other functions.
"We think companies can now really say they are offering an omnichannel experience with Live Message," says Meredith Flynn Ripley, vice president for messaging at Service Cloud. Ripley is the former CEO of Haywire, the company acquired by Salesforce for the messaging platform that is the underpinning of LiveMessage. "People text five times more on phones than talk, and while companies often say 'We message,' they are just pushing notifications. We want customers to stay on channels that they have chosen to communicate on and have actual conversations that they can initiate and take further."
Live Message also makes use of bots to answer more basic customer service questions or to gather data that a live agent can then use to inform deeper conversation. The transition from bot—whether embedded in the program or integrated as part of a 'Bring Your Own BOT (BYO-BOT)' capability in Live Message—to a live agent is seamless, regardless of the messaging platform.
Live Message is the latest in a series of multiyear rollouts from Salesforce to work with its customers to deliver innovation that connects more closely to consumers. In 2012 Salesforce added Twitter integration to Service Cloud and a number of other innovations closely followed, with two-way video announced earlier this year.
Eager consumers rapidly adopted Salesforce messaging platforms, according to Amezaga. More than 1 million people used Service Cloud-enabled messaging embedded into TurboTax to get questions answered during the 2015/16 tax season.
The company says that customers who have implemented Live Message have already realized a 15 percent to 20 percent return on their investment. Salesforce is looking toward a future where platforms like LiveMessage can be used with existing offerings like Salesforce Einstein AI to provide richer customer experiences by deepening conversations and gathering data pertinent to potentially creating and delivering branded content over mobile messaging channels.