Salesforce’s LiveMessage tool is now generally available for service agents to better connect with customers across many messenger-based apps. Originally teased at Dreamforce in October, the product is now live and currently supports conversations through SMS and Facebook Messenger.

What’s more, the enterprise cloud company has included a Service Cloud bot to allow brands to implement simple rules-based work. Over time, LiveMessage will also support third-party bots (“Bring Your Own Bots”) that businesses want to use to enhance the customer experience.

The promise of LiveMessage appears to be rather straightforward: It consolidates all the messages from customers online into a centralized area that service representatives can manage and respond to, streamlining the workflow. “Messaging is the [number one] activity people do on their mobile phones. Eighty billion messages are sent every day, and the number is only growing,” Salesforce explained in a press release. “Consumers want to message with brands the same way they communicate with family and friends, namely because it is fast, personalized, and private.”

Salesforce's LiveMessage console within Service Cloud.

Above: Salesforce’s LiveMessage console within Service Cloud.

Image Credit: Salesforce

LiveMessage is a by-product of the company’s acquisition of HeyWire in September — it was known as LiveText a year ago. Back then, it only facilitated SMS conversations, but now Facebook Messenger has been included, and there are plans to eventually extend to other apps, including Line, WeChat, and more.

HeyWire chief executive Meredith Flynn-Ripley once opined that “we’re in the midst of the largest disruption in the space since the creation of the 1-800 number, as we witness mobile messaging emerge as the new and preferred platform for service and support communication.” This is why Salesforce found the technology so appealing. It already offers its Service Cloud, which empowers call centers to respond to customer inquiries, feedback, and complaints, but when it comes to messaging, the customer relationship management (CRM} platform has been disconnected from this workflow. Now LiveMessage is a solution that aims to bridge that divide.

“What if you could message with companies like your friends?” asked Bobby Amezaga, the senior director of product marketing with Salesforce’s Service Cloud team. He painted a scenario in which people don’t have to interact with brands in a formal manner, such as by picking up a phone, mailing a letter, or sending an email. Instead, we should we feel comfortable chatting with brands the way we do with friends and family. Salesforce isn’t the only one pushing this idea, as service providers like Facebook and WeChat are thinking along the same lines.

Salesforce LiveMessage in action: What the customer inputs and what a brand sees within the Service Cloud.

Above: Salesforce LiveMessage in action: What the customer inputs and what a brand sees within the Service Cloud.

Image Credit: Screenshot

The launch of LiveMessage today fulfills a promise Salesforce made at Dreamforce when it highlighted the product’s potential. The company claimed that its customer companies will have a 360-degree view across any channel. Among the features is the inclusion of Salesforce Einsten, the artificial intelligence backend that was unveiled in October.

And, as Salesforce is getting into the messenger game, naturally there are questions about bots. The answer is that LiveMessage will be a place for bots to reside. At first, the company is enabling brands to use its Service Cloud bots, designed to provide simple rules-based automation, such as data gathering, queries, and more. “We’re trying to help [our] customers be more effective and deliver a better experience to their customers and be better agents,” explained Amezagag. “If there’s a conversation where agents can be involved, you can create a case and escalate it to [them].”

Salesforce LiveMessage-powered conversation within Facebook Messenger.

Above: Salesforce LiveMessage-powered conversation within Facebook Messenger.

Image Credit: Salesforce

Powered by Einstein, Salesforce’s LiveMessage may help customer support representatives reduce the time spent addressing standard issues, allowing them to invest in more pressing cases. However, as of right now, the main selling point appears to be that the product will consolidate all the conversations into a single place for agents to access and engage with.

Amezaga also shared that there will be an open API that enables developers to bring their own bots to the product, but it won’t be available until some time in 2017. “If a customer has a third-party bot provider that wants to be a part of LiveMessage, we will enable the customer to work with the API to be a part of the LiveMessage conversation,” he explained.

“LiveMessage is the only solution that delivers out-of-the-box capability for contact centers fully integrated into the desktop and Salesforce CRM,” Flynn-Ripley shared.