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Salesforce’s Sameer Abhinkar featured on Futurum Live! From the Show Floor at Enterprise Connect 2023 Discussing Einstein GPT

In this episode of our Futurum Live! From the Show Floor Video Series, I had a great conversation at Enterprise Connect 2023 with Salesforce’s Sameer Abhinkar, Director, Product Management, Service Cloud Einstein. My conversation with Sameer followed his keynote session, where he shared product updates on Salesforce’s Einstein GPT.

Sameer walked us through the key elements of his keynote presentation, explaining what Einstein GPT is and how customers are using and can be using it.

We explored some use cases that customers are asking for, and where they can see some immediate benefit with Einstein GPT, especially when it comes to large language models.

Lastly, Sameer shared his thoughts on what customers should keep in mind as they want to get started with generative AI in general and with Einstein GPT in particular, as well as some insights on what he sees ahead for the industry as a whole, and on customer experience in particular.

Watch the conversation here:

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Transcript:

Shelly Kramer: Hello, I’m Shelly Kramer, principal Analyst at Futurum and Research, and I’m coming to you today from sunny Orlando here at Enterprise Connect 2023, where I am joined by Sameer Abhinkar with Salesforce. Sameer is the Director of Product Management for Service Cloud Einstein. He did a fabulous keynote at Enterprise Connect today, and so I grabbed him and convinced him to talk with us a little bit about some of the things that he had on his keynote. So welcome. It’s great to have you, and thank you for making time.

Sameer Abhinkar: Thank you, Shelly, for giving me the opportunity to be here. I’m really honored.

Shelly Kramer: Absolutely. Well, I’m looking forward to it. So your keynote today was on Einstein GPT for the contact center.

Sameer Abhinkar: Yeah.

Shelly Kramer: Now, one thing that we have talked about fairly extensively is that across this convention center, generative AI, Chat GPT, all of things related to AI are the buzzwords of the day, right?

Sameer Abhinkar: Yeah.

Shelly Kramer: So you can’t have a conversation with anybody without talking about AI.

Sameer Abhinkar: Right.

Shelly Kramer: But that tells you how important it is, I think, important it is for business today. So explain to us if you would, what is Einstein GPT?

Sameer Abhinkar: Yeah, so let’s take a step back first. Right. Really understand where customers are coming from today. Right. We have a larger problem from a contact center perspective. Businesses are struggling. We know how the last two years have been with businesses, with customers, they’re asking for more. Customers keep asking for more, and businesses want to do it in an efficient manner, right? With contact centers…

Shelly Kramer: Doing more with the less is, I think the theme of 2023.

Sameer Abhinkar: Exactly. And everybody here I talked to at Enterprise Connect, they’re asking about, “Hey, how can I make my contact center efficient?” And everybody’s, as you said, are talking about generative AI and they’re saying, “Hey, is there an opportunity for us?” I think the bigger lens that we need to look at is OpenAI or any other vendor is going to give you great recommendations from a large language model perspective. But how do you ground them? How do you ground those recommendations in the customer’s knowledge?

Shelly Kramer: Well, and the customer journey too.

Sameer Abhinkar: Exactly, because how do you create a differentiation based on products that are given by other competitors as well? Right? Because everybody wants to integrate with LLM or OpenAI. So that’s where I think the differentiation from Einstein GPT comes from is we want to target in the first phase, target use cases that are going to be the low hanging fruit for our customers. When we listen to our customers, we are trying to enable some of the most compelling features, if you will, and I’ll talk about it in a minute, and how do you incorporate large language models? That’s one aspect. The other aspect is grounding those recommendations on the customer’s database. That’s where the differentiation of Einstein GPT will come from, from a product standpoint. And the features that we are really targeting as part of this, the keynote that we announced is focusing on replies.

How do you assist the agent in not only getting replies from a product which is centered to your business, versus also looking at reply generating replies, which we are getting from the public cloud. So for example, if I want to know about a weather jacket temperature, for example, I can go into my product database and figure out, okay, the weather jacket that you’re wearing is rated for this temperature. But if the customer asks you, “Hey, I’m going to Grand Teton for skiing, what is the weather like there?” But that data can come from the public cloud, from the large language model.

So that’s the merger that we want to bring as part of Einstein GPT is how do you take from a conversation standpoint and bring much more relevance? That’s one aspect. The second would be more how we can drive productivity, and I’ll speed it up here. So from a bot perspective, how can we actually help generate bots on the fly with Einstein GPT? How can we bring, not bots, should not be a predetermined response, but more you want to build character to it. You want to be informal in the responses, more human-like responses.

Shelly Kramer: You don’t want people to be communicating, knowing that it’s better if you don’t feel like you’re communicating with a bot.

Sameer Abhinkar: Exactly.

Shelly Kramer: It feels like personalized.

Sameer Abhinkar: And not only that, but we want to test the bot. Today it takes hours to go and test the bot. So we can, with GPT, we can actually do the testing, and deployment, and do analytics on top. So that’s the capability that we are going after.

Shelly Kramer: I like it. So I was going to ask you about use cases that customers are asking for, but I feel like you’ve already covered that to some degree.

Sameer Abhinkar: As part of the announcement that we going after is really looking at how we can help customers ground the knowledge, take the responses that we have achieved and ground that into customer database. That’s where the differentiation is coming from. So that’s something we feel that is a direct EHD savings for our contact center, because now the agents don’t have to type the responses. Right.

Shelly Kramer: Oh, that’s wonderful.

Sameer Abhinkar: Yeah, because now we give you the response, informal, formal, whatever that may be, and then drop them into your chat. And these experiences can be scaled across any digital channel, not only your chat, or messaging in app and web, or Facebook, or WhatsApp. We want to expand to other channels as well.

Shelly Kramer: And can you slide… Can you pick your functionality, more formal, moderately formal, that sort of thing?

Sameer Abhinkar: Exactly.

Shelly Kramer: So you can pick the voice that you’re interested in.

Sameer Abhinkar: Exactly. So that’s kind of what we do as part of the replies is we give you, hey, I want a very informal response, or I know this customer is chatty customer, but they might be a customer who’s much more formal engagement. So you want a more formal response, and this use case can actually expand to even email generation. Now you want to do email follow ups, right? Email can take quite a bit of time, right? Five to seven minutes for an average email.

Shelly Kramer: Right.

Sameer Abhinkar: Now with Einstein GPT you can even generate emails as, this is our next step going forward is how we can use customer data and public data to build that customized email response so agents can do a quick follow up.

Shelly Kramer: So more personalized.

Sameer Abhinkar: Exactly.

Shelly Kramer: More personalized, more productive, more, and I think that we might have chatted about this a little bit earlier this morning, but I think that one of the conversations that we’re seeing a lot is agent experience.

Sameer Abhinkar: Exactly.

Shelly Kramer: Right? A call center job, this is hard work. I mean, generally speaking, you’re not dealing with people on their best days. You’re dealing with people who have an issue, who have sometimes more pressing than others, depending on the situation. And so really things that are designed to help empower agents and to make their jobs less of a heavy load…

Sameer Abhinkar: Exactly.

Shelly Kramer: …I think is really…

Sameer Abhinkar: And that’s what we are shooting for. We want to take the mundane tasks from the agent and make it more automated so they can focus on the customer conversation, because that’s where the key is. If you focus on the customer, if agent is focused on the customer, then your CSAT will go up. That’s what we are driving for, to make sure that agents are focused on customer conversations that’ll help give them much more personalized engagement to the customer. And they walk away happy.

Shelly Kramer: Everybody wins.

Sameer Abhinkar: Yeah.

Shelly Kramer: Everybody wins.

Sameer Abhinkar: It’s a win-win.

Shelly Kramer: I have a question about the functionality, and this may or may not be something that you’re able to do, but so you can pick the tone. The more formal…

Sameer Abhinkar: Correct.

Shelly Kramer: The moderately formal, that sort of thing.

Sameer Abhinkar: Yeah.

Shelly Kramer: Is there a way to, or have you done any testing with certain customers against this is what happened when we used a more formal tone, this is what happened when we warmed it up, and help customers come to a place where you can help advise them on what the most effective tone is. Do you do that kind of thing?

Sameer Abhinkar: So yeah.

Shelly Kramer: I realize that’s an obscure question, but I think about weird things.

Sameer Abhinkar: So this is currently we are in testing.

Shelly Kramer: Okay.

Sameer Abhinkar: We are in pilot phase because right now our goal is to hand this over to our customers and get that feedback.

Shelly Kramer: Yeah.

Sameer Abhinkar: For us, it’s very important to know what works versus not, especially when it comes to generative responses.

Shelly Kramer: Right.

Sameer Abhinkar: So we are going to track which responses are actually going to make more sense for the customers and get that analytics across the board to say, “Okay, what is really resonating?”

Shelly Kramer: What works?

Sameer Abhinkar: Is it more formal language that is resonating as part of the product than we might surface that to our customers more than the informal one. So there is some analytics that needs to be done as part of pilot customers that we are currently recruiting for this capability, so hopefully we’ll get more details.

Shelly Kramer: Okay, great. Is this generally available or is it in beta right now?

Sameer Abhinkar: No, right now it’s in pilot.

Shelly Kramer: Okay.

Sameer Abhinkar: So it’s not beta yet.

Shelly Kramer: Okay.

Sameer Abhinkar: So it’s in pilot. So we are recruiting customers and lot of customer interest there…

Shelly Kramer: Oh, I’m sure.

Sameer Abhinkar: …in getting on board on this Einstein GPT technology. Yeah.

Shelly Kramer: Oh, absolutely. So my last question is, so somebody’s listening to this conversation, watching this conversation and thinking, “Oh, okay, this sounds really interesting and it sounds like something I could use.” What do they think? Where do they get started beyond just, “Oh, go to Salesforce.” But when you’re thinking about beginning on a journey to up-level what’s happening in your contact center and beyond your customer experience and everything, where do you start thinking about this?

Sameer Abhinkar: I think I would take a bigger step back and think about where do you start with your customer and go across and map that as a customer journey.

Shelly Kramer: Okay.

Sameer Abhinkar: Really think from an end-to-end view of, okay, my customer started in sales, then went to marketing, or then went to commerce, then went to service. So I think this is, of course, I’m biased from Salesforce perspective, but that’s I would say from a customer experience perspective and customer journey perspective, I would recommend to start from there and see how do you want to your customer experience to look like and then think technology next.

Shelly Kramer: Yeah.

Sameer Abhinkar: I think we tend to sometimes jump on the bandwagon to say, “Oh, there is another XYZ technology. I want to make sure it’s on my platform.” And then what happens is we create fragmentation because we don’t have a single solution, our data is all splattered all over the place. And we cannot tell that customer story. What happened with John Doe starting from journey X to journey Z. We can’t tell a complete picture. So I think that’s where I would, before even coming to Salesforce, I would kind of think about, Hey…

Shelly Kramer: Map it out.

Sameer Abhinkar: Customer map it out and see what really works for, what works. And then think about what is a product offering that you have across the board and see what fits best.

Shelly Kramer: I think that, well, I’ve spent a lot of my career as a strategist, so of course that resonates with me. Start with a plan, right?

Sameer Abhinkar: Yeah.

Shelly Kramer: I think that from a personal experience, and I feel like we’ve all had this happen, but when you’re navigating your way through a customer service experience, and again, nobody wakes up ever thinking, I can’t wait to reach out to customer service to solve this problem that I have, right?

Sameer Abhinkar: Right.

Shelly Kramer: So you’re irritated to begin with.

Sameer Abhinkar: Yep.

Shelly Kramer: But so many times when I am immersed in that process, I find myself thinking no one from senior leadership has ever walked through this process because if they had, this process would not exist.

Sameer Abhinkar: Would not exist. Completely.

Shelly Kramer: So I think that that’s also an important part of this customer journey mapping, is really understanding, beyond just looking at what’s on the paper, really walking through every step of the process and testing it and making sure that everybody on the team really understands what is happening with that customer.

Sameer Abhinkar: And then map the technical solutions to it, what really solves it in a much, much more effective way, right?

Shelly Kramer: Yeah.

Sameer Abhinkar: Rather than creating tech debt for your organization.

Shelly Kramer: It makes perfect sense. Yep. Well, Sameer Abhinkar from Salesforce, thank you so much for joining me today. You’ve been fantastic. I really enjoyed your keynote. I’m so glad you were able to make time for me, and I’m looking forward to having this come out of pilot and being able to play with it, and I’m sure there are lots of people thinking just like me.

Sameer Abhinkar: Thank you for having me.

Shelly Kramer: Absolutely.

Sameer Abhinkar: Yeah.

Shelly Kramer: Bye-bye.

Sameer Abhinkar: Bye.

Author Information

Shelly Kramer is a Principal Analyst and Founding Partner at Futurum Research. A serial entrepreneur with a technology centric focus, she has worked alongside some of the world’s largest brands to embrace disruption and spur innovation, understand and address the realities of the connected customer, and help navigate the process of digital transformation. She brings 20 years' experience as a brand strategist to her work at Futurum, and has deep experience helping global companies with marketing challenges, GTM strategies, messaging development, and driving strategy and digital transformation for B2B brands across multiple verticals. Shelly's coverage areas include Collaboration/CX/SaaS, platforms, ESG, and Cybersecurity, as well as topics and trends related to the Future of Work, the transformation of the workplace and how people and technology are driving that transformation. A transplanted New Yorker, she has learned to love life in the Midwest, and has firsthand experience that some of the most innovative minds and most successful companies in the world also happen to live in “flyover country.”

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