It’s been two years since Salesforce launched Salesforce Essentials, a customer relationship management solution for small- and medium-sized businesses. The San Francisco tech giant says Essentials has precipitated partnerships with companies including Docusign, Dropbox, Hertz, First Republic Bank, FoundersCard, TechStars, Silicon Valley Bank, and Y Combinator, and it claims that thousands of new customers now sign up for Essentials every quarter.
On the heels of this rousing success, Salesforce today announced new capabilities heading to Essentials designed to give companies more “personalized ways” to interact with their customers. “We all expect real-time instantaneous communication today — whether it’s with our family, friends, or favorite brands,” explained senior vice president of Salesforce Essentials Marie Rosecrans. “Now, Salesforce Essentials is giving small businesses the tools needed to manage customer communications across all those channels in one centralized spot.”
Headlining new features include integrations with Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and YouTube, which expand on existing support of Facebook pages and Twitter. Messages sent via Messenger are routed to employees who can have live conversations directly from within Essentials, and push notifications indicate when customers comment on company Instagram posts or YouTube videos. (Comments can be responded to within Essentials, as well.)
Additionally, Essentials now supports real-time chat from websites or help centers via an embeddable widget. Native phone support comes courtesy of Lighting Dialer for Essentials, an out-of-the-box call center solution that surfaces profiles and account information and automatically logs calls with Salesforce’s contact and account history. Lastly, Essentials now offers small business customers a library of walkthroughs including guided overviews on key channels like Facebook Messenger, chat, and voice.
Facebook Messenger, Instagram, YouTube, and chat are available globally starting today in Essentials and included in the $25 per user, per month price. Lightning Dialer for Essentials is generally available in the U.S. and Canada with packages starting at $2 per 100 minutes, and help from Essentials Coaches — support staff members that provide one-on-one setup and configuration assistance — is also generally available. (It’s included in the base price during trials and in the first 90 days.)
Today’s announcements come after six major Essential releases focused on small business success, including a simplified buying and check-out experience, set-up walkthroughs, a revamped help center, and live coaching, and following the debut Einstein Analytics for Financial Services, a suite of AI-driven customizable tools targeted at wealth advisors, retail bankers, and money managers. More recently, Salesforce unveiled Salesforce Blockchain, a low-code platform that lets companies create blockchain networks, workflows, and apps that facilitate the sharing of verified, distributed data sets across partner and third-party networks.
Last fall saw the launch of Einstein Voice, a service that enables sales managers to dictate memos and navigate cloud environments hands-free, and Einstein Voice Bots, branded chatbots built on the Einstein Bot Platform that work with Alexa, Google Assistant, and other voice assistants. In related news, Salesforce recently launched Einstein Translation and Einstein Optical Character Recognition alongside new AI features for Pardot and High Velocity Sales and Einstein bots for businesses. And earlier this year the company revealed a slew of AI-driven features headed to Service Cloud, including automated case routing and Einstein Reply Recommendations, which uses natural language processing to “instantly” suggest agent responses over chat and messaging.