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Salesforce announced plans today to bring automated bots to its Einstein AI platform. The bots, which can include conversational AI for natural language interactions, will be deployed on apps and websites to give businesses the ability to deliver services to customers.
“Initially, Einstein bots can be deployed on websites and in mobile apps via our Live Agent chat solution. In the future, Einstein bots will extend to real-time mobile messaging channels,” Salesforce’s senior director of product marketing, Robert Amezaga, told VentureBeat.
Einstein bots are currently being used by a handful of pilot customers, like Hulu, and will be made generally available to Salesforce customers in mid-2018.
The introduction of bots is the latest advancement in chat for Salesforce, following the debut of LiveMessage for chat app conversation management and the Einstein AI platform last year, and additional natural language AI services this year.
Conversational AI products from Salesforce — like Einstein Agent for customer service representatives and Einstein Answers for customers — will also be made available in 2018.
Salesforce bots will be available to build, train, and deploy in the Service Cloud desktop console.The bots can be constructed using natural language processing and can incorporate visual elements like menus and buttons to guide a conversational experience.
Businesses will be able to authenticate customer identity in a conversation and then deliver customer information like password reset and order status, as well as scheduling appointments and carrying out transactions by integrating point-of-sales systems.
Out-of-the-box NLP solutions and bot templates will be made available for customers from specific verticals, such as restaurants or marketing.
“On the AppExchange…you will see some companies providing out-of-the-box bots that customers can go and deploy,” Salesforce director of product management Clement Tussiot told VentureBeat.
Companies with a pre-existing customer interactions will be at an advantage, Tussiot said, since that data can be used to train bots to better understand customers.
“Once you start a partner with pre-trained intents and inferences, we can actually use those models to pick from your data all the examples — specific to your business, specific to your brand — and supervise training so you can actually have a bot up and running with your data in a couple of days or weeks, compared to months of training with some other solution,” he said.
Einstein bots will also be able to switch between an automated bot and a human, a feature made available for Facebook Messenger bots this summer.
Bots can be programmed to send messages or switch to a human customer service agent based on IP address, time of day, or other factors. They can also choose to send a conversation to a human customer service agent if the bot lacks confidence in the accuracy of its response.
Other companies making bots to connect businesses with customers include HubSpot, which recently acquired Motion.ai; the startup Drift; and a range of tech giants, such as Skype, Twitter, and Apple’s Business Chat.
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