Bot enhancements, SMS support and Zapier platform integration highlight new release of Comm100 platform

This is the last big improvement to the Comm100 customer experience platform before a next-gen version is introduced in about four months.

Vancouver B.C.-based Comm100 has made some major enhancements to their engagement platform, improving the capabilities of their chatbot, adding SMS text messaging, and integrating with the Zapier platform to allow easy integration with large numbers of third-party templates.

“This will be the last major release in the first half of the year as we gear up for a major overhaul of our entire platform,” said Jeff Epstein, Comm100’s VP of product. “We are undergoing a major overhaul, in association with our 10-year anniversary, which we plan to release in about four months time. The enhancements here are still significant. We have upgraded our bot. We have added a deeper range of integrations. We also extended the scope of work partners can wrap around our platform, because a lot of these capabilities require handholding, which partners are well equipped to provide.”

Comm100 launched their first chat bot in Fall of 2017. Version 2 came out in May 2018.

“The second generation one was an important transition from a traditional Q&A bot to natural language processing, and was the first one where we introduced Artificial Intelligence capabilities to it,” Epstein said. “This third generation one makes the bot more friendly for the visitor and more efficient for the agent.”

A key addition for this is Smart Triggers, which enhance the relationship between the bot and the agent – in a way that has positive implications for the customer as well.

“Smart Triggers look at who is coming into chat, and for certain designated customers or types of customers, can bypass the bot right away, and hand off to a human to provide white glove service,” Epstein said. “In addition, the bot now can detect when the customer is stressed as well as situations where the bot can’t help, and will escalate to a live agent.  This stems from our customer-first belief, to avoid frustration and brand erosion. Bots can’t do everything. When bots can’t do something, an immediate escalation path to hand off to a human is required.”

WebViews, with the separate window for the form adjacent to the bot

Another new addition is Webviews, which supports HTML content embedded in the chat window so that it behaves like a webpage or online form, and can be completed without the need for special coding, to complement the basic bot.

“This really is built around forms,” Epstein said. “HTML is far more flexible, so if you design forms to be responsive for browser configurations, you don’t have to change anything. It works in a separate box, like a mini-browser.”

Dynamic field population is another new bot capability, which allows automatic population of chat window fields with Web data.

“This comes into play in situations like where the website is behind a login,” Epstein indicated. “The chatbot can consume it and have a more personalized conversation from cookies. It also shortcuts some of the data entry the bot might require.”

The new release also adds SMS text messaging integration. Epstein acknowledged that Comm100 is far from first in the market with this, but stated that it hasn’t been the priority so far in B2B that it has been on consumer devices.

“We are not the last chat provider to go into SMS but we know we are not the first, so are playing some catch-up in that respect,” Epstein said. “Our origins were in live chat, so we focused on that. In addition, SMS for business is fairly late to the game. It is only recently that it has emerged as a strong business channel. Until now, it hasn’t been in high demand by consumers to deal with their brand, so for us in B2B, it has been a late adopter channel. That being said, that’s changing, and it is now coming. When we made the SMS integration to our customer base, we were pleasantly surprised with the interest. We serve mainly the midmarket, and enterprise has been the early adopters for SMS, so we  underestimated the uptake. It has been very strong.”

The final enhancement is the addition of a new integration layer through the Zapier platform, that allows automation of workflows in thousands of cloud-based apps, including Slack, Microsoft Office, Google Docs, CRM systems and project management platforms.

“We have always had robust APIs, but Zapier lets us use prepackaged templates to provide off-the-shelf integrations,” Epstein said. “The drawback is that they are not as robust as our API layer, because you can’t have two-way exchanges. It’s just one-way. You grab data and drop it into a third-party cloud system.

“Partners do like the Zapier integration though,” he added. “They love to take that unified story to our customers.”

“From a partner standpoint, this opens up the door to a lot of additional services,” said Ty Rottare, Comm100’s Director of Global Channels and Ecosystems. “It strengthens them as a subject matter expert to advise how to best implement a bot and provide it with the learning that it needs. That should enable them to grow their services practices.