Salesforce has figured out that by the time a person picks up the phone to call customer service, the stakes are high. Many customers use a different channel first– search, FAQ, or apps. If a customer can’t find the answer with these self-service methods, it’s time to make a phone call.

Traditionally, phone calls have been siloed in customer service centers, where agents juggled multiple screens to gather data from a single customer. Service Cloud Voice fixes that problem by adding telephony to Salesforce Service Cloud. This new service combines data from multiple sources – voice, digital, and CRM data – in real-time in one place.

At DreamForce 2019, Salesforce announced that telephone calls will now benefit from all the artificial intelligence (AI) enhancements that other communication channels have. Automatic transcription services will reduce data entry for customer service agents.

“These latest Service Cloud innovations will help companies meet these rising demands, and empower phone agents to focus on the human side of service — solving difficult problems for customers, and doing it with empathy,” said Bill Patterson, executive vice president and general manager of Service Cloud, in a press release.

Penny Gillespie, a Gartner research director of overall corporate strategy for SaaS, said this news represents a migration toward a customer engagement hub (CEH) which Gartner defines as an architectural framework that ties multiple systems together.

“A CEH allows personalized, contextual customer engagement, whether through a human, artificial agent, or sensors, across all interaction channels,” she said. “It reaches and connects all departments, allowing, for example, the synchronization of marketing, sales and customer service processes.

Also, Service Cloud Voice will integrate with Amazon Connect. Amazon is Salesforce’s primary cloud services provider, and this new partnership makes Amazon Connect the preferred contact center technology for Salesforce.

“What this means is, if you think about the world’s number one CRM together with the world’s number one cloud provider, it really gives us an opportunity to provide … we’ll call it different levels of technology,” said Ryan Aytay, executive vice president of Strategic Product Alliances. “The voice center interoperability initiative is something where you have this opportunity to bring Alexa and Einstein skill building together.”

Yefim Natis is a vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. He said the steadily increasing affinity of Salesforce to AWS makes sense.

“For a market leader facing strengthening competition, innovation is an essential defense strategy,” Natis said. “That Salesforce, despite its size and age, is able to stay on pace with the industry is accomplishment enough, even if they are not breaking a new space.”

Phone calls are both old school and frequently used for customer service help. Ninety-five percent of service teams offer phone support, and 93% of customers still use it.

“The phone remains a significant channel of interaction for escalation purposes and for complex issues,” said Mary Wardley, program vice president, loyalty and customer care, IDC. “With the plethora of available channels of interactions – particularly digital — by the time a customer places a call to a company they have likely already tried and failed to solve their problem elsewhere, making it all the more crucial that the agent is equipped to answer their question.”

SEE: Cloud providers 2019: A buyer’s guide (free PDF)

With this new feature, transcription capabilities turn speech into text that, which up alongside customer data in the customer service console. With this extra information, the agent can deliver a personalized missing a word? that takes into account the customer’s purchase history, warranty information, or past interactions across channels. Einstein AI will provide recommended solutions and next best actions for the agent in the background.

Gillespie said that this upgrade will improve efficiency in call centers by reducing keystrokes due to voice enabled requests and data updates.

Salesforce will now offer Service Cloud Voice to incorporate telephone calls into the full customer service console which will put voice, digital communications, and CRM data in one place.
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