Why ChatGPT, AI is taking over the cold call: Salesforce executive

  • The launch of ChatGPT has started a wave of tech companies looking to integrate generative AI into their products and apps.
  • Salesforce is launching a new product that uses OpenAI’s advanced AI models to help salespeople, customer service reps, developers and others remove mundane tasks from their everyday lives.
  • One particular workload being eliminated is writing “dreaded” sales emails, according to Salesforce Service Cloud CEO Clara Shih.

Generative AI tools like ChatGPT are changing the way companies and salespeople communicate with customers for the better, said Clara Shih, CEO of Salesforce’s Service Cloud business.

“You look at how salespeople work today, and most of them dread writing sales emails; they’d much rather be out there with customers,” Shih said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” Thursday. “So they can offload the tasks that are more mundane … they’ll focus on engaging with the customer and solving problems.”

Shih drew a clear line between how generative AI can be used by the general person compared to business customers and enterprise users: “We’re not talking about writing funny poems, we’re talking about writing sales emails and customer service responses that agents can ship to get back to customers faster.”

Earlier this week, Salesforce launched what it called the first generative AI CRM technology, Einstein GPT. The updated software uses generative AI technology and OpenAI’s advanced AI models that power ChatGPT to do things like create personalized emails for sellers, responses to customer service representatives, and auto-generate code for developers, among other tasks.

“It’s really about bringing enterprise-grade generative AI to our customers, whether they’re small businesses or the largest companies in the world, and doing it in a way that’s rooted in business outcomes,” Shih said.

Jonathan Raa | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Since the Microsoft-backed OpenAI opened ChatGPT to the public in November, every tech company has seemingly been scrambling to roll out its own generative AI-powered tool amid the growing interest.

Microsoft said earlier this week that it would bring AI to its CRM and ERP applications that compete with Salesforce’s offerings, which follows the company’s previously announced plan to integrate OpenAI’s chatbot into its Bing search engine.

Google’s ChatGPT competitor, Bard, has faced pressure both internally and from investors over criticism that the technology was rushed. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company is creating a new product group focused on generative AI to create products for Facebook and Instagram. Snap said in February that it will integrate a ChatGPT bot into its app.

Salesforce said in a separate announcement that it was launching a ChatGPT app for Slack that could help write messages and get conversation summaries. Salesforce Ventures, the company’s VC arm, also launched its own $250 million generative AI fund.

The ChatGPT craze has also gone well beyond technology, with companies from construction equipment maker Caterpillar to financial firm Wells Fargo touting their AI technology efforts on recent earnings calls.

“When it comes to artificial intelligence, we’ve actually been on this journey for over seven years,” Shih said. Salesforce first introduced Einstein in 2017. It currently generates 200 billion AI predictions every day, she added.

At CNBC’s Work Summit last October, Shih said the integration of AI tools into workers’ lives was “absolutely critical.”

“Right now, so many workers feel burned out, they’re overworked, their days are filled with mundane tasks,” said Shih, who compared how AI could help optimize things for workers to how Google Maps helps people optimize their travel routes

Shih said that while these tools can help workers with these tasks, it’s critical that companies ensure employees aren’t using consumer-focused chatbots.

“It’s to make sure their proprietary data doesn’t get out into the open,” she said.

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