Salesforce, a global leader in CRM, recently announced its intention to acquire Airkit, an eCommerce-focused low-code platform that enables companies to create AI-powered customer service agents. We explore the acquisition’s rationale, key participants, and its potential effect on customer experience tools.
The Connection Between Salesforce and Airkit
Airkit was founded in 2017 by Adam Evans and Stephen Ehikian. Salesforce Ventures was one of the key investors in Airkit, contributing to the $68 million funding raised by the company over six years.
From Customer Engagement to AI Customer Service Agents
Airkit initially emerged as a self-serve customer engagement platform enabling businesses to integrate data silos and streamline processes like user onboarding. However, the company underwent a significant transformation last month. It relaunched as Airkit and unveiled its first integrated product - a GPT-4-based platform that allows businesses to create specialized customer service chatbots. Companies like OpenTable and ShipBob are already leveraging this platform to build chatbots that can handle a variety of customer queries, from order status and refunds to product information.
The acquisition of Airkit by Salesforce is a strategic move guided by the rising popularity and potential of generative AI. A generative AI startup like Airkit, with its strong existing connections to Salesforce, was an attractive proposition. Moreover, Salesforce had recently pledged to invest $500 million in generative AI startups, making the acquisition align perfectly with this commitment. Salesforce plans on merging Airkit into its customer service platform, Service Cloud, post-acquisition. This integration will enhance Service Cloud's capabilities, allowing Salesforce to offer its customers more than just FAQ bots. Instead, they can provide intelligent AI agents that can handle a broad range of tasks, such as updating order status, supporting returns and exchanges, managing order issues, providing product information, and offering technical support.
The Future of Customer Experience
The acquisition of Airkit.ai represents Salesforce's dedication to improving customer experience tools. As highlighted by Michael Ross's "3 Core Principles of Digital Customer Experience," businesses must focus on personalizing experiences, making zero-based decisions, and putting the experience in a business context. Airkit's AI platform allows for a high level of personalization and efficiency, addressing these principles. By giving businesses the tools to create AI customer service agents that can provide highly personalized resolutions through empathetic and human-like conversations, they're enabling a shift from simple deflection strategies to a focus on resolution as the ultimate mark of success.
Salesforce's acquisition of Airkit is a strategic move towards AI-powered customer service. The integration of AI customer service agents can help businesses deliver more personalized and efficient customer service, leading to higher satisfaction rates and, ultimately, increased business success.