On a quest to reduce busywork for myself (and readers of my book Why Simple Wins), I longed for a future where email would be an automated task. Where tech would summarize messages from clients and employees, reply on my behalf and even cold-pitch potential sales leads.
With the introduction of new AI services from Microsoft, Salesforce and more, the future of email has finally arrived. One promises to optimize your sales correspondence. Another vows to guide you toward inbox zero. And another aims to remove inefficiencies from sales and customer-service experiences. If spending less time with your inbox is one of your business goals, explore the key players in this space below.
- Microsoft Dynamics 365 Copilot embeds in your Outlook and includes Business Chat, which works across your calendar, emails, chats, documents, meetings and contacts. With natural-language prompts like “tell my team how we updated the product strategy,” Business Chat can generate a status email based on the morning’s meetings, emails and chat threads. Copilot combines both AI and natural language processing (NLP) to automatically detect and respond to customer inquiries; identify trends and opportunities in customer behavior; as well as suggest more efficient ways to manage customer interactions. Ideal outcomes for Copilot include lower operational costs, better customer service and a deeper understanding of your customers or clients. While most Copilot features are currently limited to Viva Sales customers, you can add your company to the wait list here.
- Shortwave’s inbox management is designed to help businesses and leaders organize, prioritize and maintain inbox zero. The company was founded by ex-Googlers and champions the Shortwave Method, which was inspired by a productivity system called Getting Things Done. Using AI and NLP, Shortwave can quickly and accurately identify client or colleague inquiries and categorize them based on their relevance. Additionally, Shortwave can automatically respond to simple emails and uses a feature called Smart Summaries to capture key points of any length email. Using Shortwave, organizations in any industry should be able to spend less time on email and stay in the flow of work for longer periods of time. Pricing starts at free for limited use; $9 per month for individuals; and upon request for enterprise-wide use.
- Salesforce’s EinsteinGPT uses NLP and ML (machine learning) to quickly identify customer inquiries and automate customer requests. The platform is layered atop a CRM (customer relationship management) system, allowing it to leverage customer data and AI to automate requests and provide personalized responses. EinsteinGPT is designed to save you time while providing insights into customer behavior, identifying trends, and offering improvements for customer interactions. For example, you can ask Einstein GPT to write an introductory email to a sales lead, in which you request a meeting and include recent news about the prospect. The entire process, including review and revisions, should take less than four minutes. Currently, EinsteinGPT is in beta for select users, and no word yet on pricing or general release date.
Availability aside, a key difference between the tools is each platform’s compatibility with other software and services. Copilot is built on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform and plays well with other Microsoft apps and Salesforce. Shortwave is built atop Gmail and prides itself on being open and decentralized. Meanwhile, EinsteinGPT is built on the Salesforce platform and provides ChatGPT capabilities for Slack.
Given how consuming email has become — around 15.5 hours per week, according to this Adobe survey — it’s crucial that leaders and influencers explore inbox solutions that reduce busywork. From automated email management and sales correspondence to streamlined customer service, these AI-powered options are clearing a path toward more valuable work (and fewer mundane tasks).
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