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Salesforce LiveMessage: From Notifications to Conversations

Salesforce this week announced general delivery of LiveMessage, which allows a company to engage customers via messaging over Facebook Messenger or SMS/MMS directly within Service Cloud.

The LiveMessage application was built by HeyWire, a six-year-old startup that Salesforce acquired in September -- part of the $4 billion buying spree it's been on this year. With this announcement, Salesforce more tightly integrates what was HeyWire LiveText Agent into the Service Cloud portfolio.

While customer care texting has been available for several years, the conversational aspect of LiveMessage is relatively new. Most of us are now familiar with text messages reminding us that we have a dental appointment or alerting us to a sale at a favored retailer. These are best thought of as push notifications -- sent to people who have opted-in. The ability to reply to these notifications is typically limited to a single word, like "Yes" or "Stop." Anything more complicated requires a phone call.

Conversational text messaging eliminates the opt-in barrier by allowing anyone with a mobile phone to message a company, regardless of phone make or model, or carrier. It also allows for a truly interactive exchange. The picture at right shows the power of not just enabling messaging but allowing for escalation to a live agent in the contact center.

The above-mentioned shift comes with a new rules-based Service Cloud Bot capability for LiveMessage that allows companies to automate routine tasks, such as transferring to a live agent, gathering data, or answering simple questions. APIs allow companies to apply a "bring your own bot," or BYOBot, strategy to LiveMessage.

I viewed the Crock-Pot demo shown in the phone screen image during a briefing with Meredith Flynn-Ripley, Salesforce VP, Messaging, Service Cloud (and former CEO of HeyWire). While interesting, the sceptic in me asked if live messaging will become another digital channel that ends up accounting for just one to two percent of total interactions into a contact center. As discussed in an April No Jitter post on Dimension Data's 2016 Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report, social media, SMS text, mobile applications, and video chat each accounted for two percent or less of interactions handled by contact centers in 2015.

Flynn-Ripley's response was quick and fact-based. Companies that have deployed HeyWire, now Salesforce LiveMessage, have found that "within a matter of weeks it becomes 15 to 20% of communications," she said. With Salesforce's plans to extend LiveMessage to additional messaging platforms (think WeChat, Line, or WhatsApp), the possibility that any given company will see an even higher percentage of interactions move to messaging grows.

Without doubt, messaging is overtaking voice in sheer number of interactions -- Salesforce quotes a Juniper Research statistic placing the number of text messages sent daily at 80 billion, and growing. With Salesforce's growing presence in the customer interaction space, I am happy to announce that John Hernandez, COO of Service Cloud, will be joining me at the upcoming Enterprise Connect 2017 conference for the "Contact Center Executive Forum: How Cloud is Changing the Contact Center Market" panel discussion. Join us!

Learn more about contact center/customer experience trends and technologies at Enterprise Connect 2017, March 27 to 30, in Orlando, Fla. View the Contact Center track, and register now using the code NOJITTER to receive $300 off an Entire Event pass or a free Expo Plus pass.

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