Chat bots are computer programs that mimic conversation with people using artificial intelligence. They can transform the way you interact with the internet from a series of self-initiated tasks to a quasi-conversation.
Facebook Messenger is currently used by 900 million people meaning it is one of the most widely used instant messaging platforms globally.
Facebook is now allowing businesses to deliver automated customer support, e-commerce guidance, content and interactive experiences through chat bots.
Through the Messenger Platform’s new functionality, bots can send more than just text. They will be able to respond with structured messages that include images, links and call to action buttons. These could let users make a find a nearest store, review an e-commerce order and more. You can swipe through product carousels and pop out to the web to pay for a purchase.
Customers can also subscribe to notifications to be sent from brands via the messaging app. For example Manchester City has recently launched a bot that allows fans to register for transfer news, news on the manager and match day reports. This means whenever there is an article published in one of these categories they will receive a direct message on their device.
Why use a chat bot?
With the increase in mobile commerce people are becoming more accustomed to using their phone as the main point of contact with retailers, whether this is through their website, Twitter, Facebook or emailing them directly. Chat bots are the natural progression from website to apps to bots and will play an important role in the engagement of users with businesses.
The benefit of having a chat bot on platforms such as Facebook Messenger is there are already over 50 million business currently using the platform as a means of communicating with their customers. Giving customers the ability to directly discuss issues, ask questions or request more information from their device is of great benefit and removes the barriers in speaking with a business.
Businesses are able to directly target customers who are interested in their service/product. Bots push directly to a user’s device so unlike email or social media posts where a person must actively engage with it, bots push the content which appears as a push notification on the smartphone, tablet or computer.
Bots are being billed as the new apps but without the graphical user interface but can offer very complex and comprehensive functionality.
However if bots are widely adopted they could redefine how businesses sell products and services. Instead of trying to use an app, a bot could ask your criteria and push relevant things to buy and rather than sifting through tons of content on a site, a bot could learn what you like and deliver personal digests and suggestions.
Facebook also plans to earn money by allowing businesses to send ‘Sponsored Messages’ ads to people who’ve already voluntarily started a conversation with a business. Getting customer engaging with businesses now through bots will help to ease in paid for ads in future from the same bot.
Bots are very early in adoption but there are a number of companies already starting to use the service and has the potential to change the way we all interact with businesses online, it’s worth following their development to see who they can benefit your business.
See them in action below