back to article Salesforce ‘Einstein’ now smart enough for customer service

Salesforce has unleashed an upgrade to its Einstein AI that equips it to handle customer service chores. Einstein has hitherto been offered as an assistant capable of helping Salesforce users to make predictions based on the data they’ve collected on the SaaS platform, with one variant also capable of making suggestions to …

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Umm

" tire of dealing with grumpy customers and leave in droves. "

Let's see if I've understood this right.

You piss off your customers, by providing lousy, penny pinching and incompetent service. They phone to get it sorted out and you make them talk to a 'bot; which however good it might be at "natural language" is not going to be able to respond well to the customer trying to explain the total confusion and misery that your botched service has created - so is unlikely to be able to find a creative solution that gets the issues sorted out and the customer's satisfaction with you restored.

But this is not just about finding an even cheaper way of fobbing off angry customers rather than taking responsibility to resolve the issues, after you've messed up.

Have I got that right?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Umm

Hi Terry 6,

I see that you're unhappy with your fobbing. I'd really like to help sort this out for you today.

If you would be able to call our 24*7 customer fob line where Hal would be happy to help.

Alternatively please complete the online form linked below that will ensure a human will contact you in 3-7 weeks.

01001000 01100001 01110110 01100101 00100000 01100001 00100000 01100111 01110010 01100101 01100001 01110100 00100000 01100100 01100001 01111001 00101110

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Re: Umm

It's also a play on the AI hype that every one wants to see but also can more easily forgive as "we haven't got there yet, but good try". (that's why I clicked on this article, and quickly realised it was yet another BS PR trick, but here I am, being nice to it).

It's a lot harder to have that sentiment to real human beings nowadays.

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Squawk!

> “Einstein Bots for Service”, code that it claims can “automate routine service requests and enable frictionless agent handoffs.”

Ha! You could train a parrot to say "switch it off and on again".

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Re: Squawk!

More to the point; could you train a 'bot to handle...

"You keep sending me a gas bill for £27,000. I don't even have a gas supply and no I can't give you my account number, because when I gave you my electricity account number you wouldn't accept it because I've never held an account with you and I've lived here for 12 years...."

Or even, as happened to me yesterday;

" I'm calling because you haven't sent me the credit cards for the account you agreed to open three weeks ago"

"I'll look into it, can you give me your 6 digit security number?"

"No, because you haven't sent me anything yet, so I haven't been given the number".

"I'm sorry but without the number I can't access your account".

And that wasn't even a fucking 'bot.

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Re: Squawk!

"I'm sorry but without the number I can't access your account".....And that wasn't even a fucking 'bot.

Arguably it was. A meatbot.

That's what happens when companies design close-walled processes that mean call centre agents can only deal within a very restricted range of options, without properly considering the range of potential needs. No amount of AI is going to solve that - in practice all that will ever happen will be that the company sees "AI" as cost cutting exercise, and they will bolt a shoddy voice recognition front end on to the same process and scripts that the company previously gave to human operators.

A big part of the problem here is that in general the vast majority of us choose services on cost, often simply clicking on the lowest priced offer on a price comparison website. For a business, increasing your costs to provide better service pushes you off the first page of the PCW, and you lose business. The evidence is also clear that better service doesn't reduce churn, so you're not compensated by better retention. Many, many people will earnestly say that they will pay more for better customer service, but the number actually willing to do so is tiny - my last employer's CEO got the boot for a failed "differentiation through superior service" strategy.

In this context, AI is merely the same over-hyped, under-delivering garbage, touted by charlatans that it is in most other situations. The only economically viable way to offer better customer service is not automation and AI, it is a two tier model of free "regular" customer service, and charged-for premium customer service - but most customers object bitterly to that, and in several industries regulators wouldn't permit it.

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The joys of online banking

Yesterday I wanted to order a new cheque book. The online messaging service has a drop-down for selecting the correct account but it was empty. So instead I try to send a system problem message but you can't do that without first selecting the account! Nice Catch 22 error there :(

To be fair they had a chat box and a human fixed it. Of course while using the chat box the connection timed out and logged me out. Modern life eh!

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One of the metrics customer experience wonks use to measure their success is “first time resolution ratetime to close call”,

And because every customer interaction is an upsell opportunity to piss off the customer even further, customer service folk want their people to know what to suggest to delight you add insult to injury.

FTFY

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"Delighting" customers is a counter-productive waste of time

The answer is not to use "AI" (almost certainly nothing of the sort but a buzzword that the marketing types love) but to employ knowledgeable people who you pay a reasonable salary to (and who you sometimes move out of the line of fire to work outside of support, e.g. on small projects, to reduce burn-out).

As both a provider and user of customer support I despair of this "You must delight your customer" mantra/rubbish. What I (and research studies in this area have also shown is generally true) want is for my query to be dealt with swiftly and competently - that's it. If they're spending time "delighting" one customer it's almost certainly at the expense of another who's getting shoddy service because of lack of time. Despite what self-promoting egotists such as Richard Branson think there is no meaningful evidence that delighting customers makes any significant difference to customer loyalty - it mainly just boosts the self-esteem of the delighter.

Support is too often considered to be an expensive and barely-tolerated necessary evil. IMO it's one of the most important measures of what a company really is rather than what the corporate mission statement/nonsense says it is. If support is good then I'll take the company seriously, if not I'll likely take my business elsewhere.

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Re: "Delighting" customers is a counter-productive waste of time

I don't think delighting the customer is a waste of time. It's just that that's done by getting it right first time, not the added insult of an attempt to upsell. If I wanted to buy something I'd have bought it at the time, and certainly not when I'm having a problem with the whatever else it was that I did buy.

That's not something that cheapskate salespestering-oriented management understands. They think that they can do skimp on providing whatever they sell, skimp on support and try to turn support into sales more pestering.

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Re: "Delighting" customers is a counter-productive waste of time

I guess it's a question of terminology. I view getting it right first time wherever possible as simply being competent, not delightful. Corporate cheerleaders tend to view delighting a customer as going "above and beyond" the original request - I virtually never want this as I doubt v much that they know what it is I really want and I don't have time to tell them.

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Anonymous Coward

It'll be like the other SalesForce product I use

Shite

And it'll be like the new version of the other SalesForce product I use

Lightning shite

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"those people quickly tire of dealing with grumpy customers and leave in droves."

Possibly they also tire of lousy working conditions. Of having to exactly follow a script no matter how obviously inappropriate it is. Of not being allowed to put the phone down on an abusive customer. Of having all their calls monitored and being bollocked for any trace of human reaction rather than robotic rules following.

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Anonymous Coward

I'm guessing it's called Einstein in reference to...

...the level of customer service Albert Einstein provided when he worked as a clerk at the Swiss Patent Office.

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Boffin

Excellent.

I'll add them to my list of free-call fapping time numbers.

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Your <strike>money</strike> <strike>custom</strike> call is important to us

We are currently receiving a high volume of calls and will answer your call as soon as we are able.

We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

Except for gouging you silly by insisting you call a premium rate number and wait in a queue, due to our ‘experiencing a high volume of calls’ every day of the week for years now, because we only employ six people to handle all calls from the entire nation, the continent and beyond; and carefully ensure at least three of them are on a break or otherwise absent at any given time.

We don’t apologise for that; it makes us shitloads of money for executive bonuses — and we wouldn’t make those if they were based upon our actual performance.

As scientific and technological advances increase the lifespan of the human race, you can rest assured that the providers of faulty, or otherwise inadequate, goods and services will take the long term view and reason that you won’t notice a year or two here or there any more than people used to notice hours evaporating into nothing whilst being subjected to Greensleeves played on a Stylophone by a three-year-old with motor neurone disease.

As a result, support will be outsourced to Alpha Centauri and have a maximum response time of 5.36 years and an additional 4.36 years per round-trip communication.

The future is bright shite.

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Bravo!

You would hardly believe the number of users who call up asking for explanations of Brownian motion and General Relativity. At last we can quit bringing in physics Ph.D.s and use our H1-B quotas for something else.

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former call center employee for an outsourcer

Maybe i'm just lucky, but the company I worked for was well regarded by our clients and participants. We handled medical/pension/401K plans for private employers. When I started it was a US company, after the great recession, we were sold to a Dutch company. From my POV, things got better. Any time I entered a file there was a record of what I did/info viewed.

My advice, read any doc you get about your employee benefits.And if you can run a diff on them .Perhaps one of the many more knowledgeable commentards can show how to do that.

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I wonder what NICE has coming down the pipeline in regards to competition for this. Salesforce is nothing to sneeze at (especially in the CRM space) but NICE isn't something to sneeze at either.

They're the big dog in call centers for Workforce Management, call quality assurance, and timekeeping after all (their IEX software was used in every call center I've ever done business with or worked in here in the US, though a good number use ADP for timekeeping for whatever reason) and since this sounds like something to do with WFM enhancement so the IVR can do more things, freeing up agents to do more complex things that the IVR can't, I'm sure they're going to have something to compete with it.

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