When Facebook Messenger reached the milestone of a billion active users in the mid-2016, one would have thought that it would maintain the same direction of peer-to-peer communications. Little did one realize that this messaging service will develop chatbots and use them as a business tool.
If the term Facebook Messenger chatbots are something you have only heard of and not quite understood, here is a rundown.
Chatbots are automated programs on the Facebook Messenger platform that Facebook houses directly on its website. These facilitate an easy interaction of Facebook users with the brands through Facebook. Bots provide live support, much like salespeople in a store, around the clock and reply to customer queries, when live support is not available.
Whether introducing chatbots on Facebook Messenger is a success story can be gauged from the fact that from nearly 11,000 chatbots, three months after its launch, there are now over 34,000 active bots in service of a wide variety of companies. But, does the chatbots transform the Facebook Messenger into a practical business technology?
For this, let us look at what Facebook Messenger chatbots offer to retailers:
Facebook Chatbots for Your Business
Act as a Salesperson
Facebook Messenger chatbots directly interact with customers, recommending products that they are keen to buy. For this, the messenger tool matches the customers’ interests after analyzing their conversation context or prior search volume.
Once the customer decides to buy the product, the Messenger directs him or her to the company’s third-party site to complete the transaction. The newly introduced Facebook payment service allows the customers to pay for the products without leaving the Messenger app.
What’s more, according to Facebook Messenger’s head, David Marcus, Facebook is in talks of a tie-up with industry’s major players, such as Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Paypal, etc. With this, Facebook Messenger has already taken a major step towards becoming a full-service e-commerce channel.
Offer Customer Service
For any business to prosper, customer service assumes importance. And this is precisely what Facebook Messenger chatbots offer – an automated customer service. These communicate with the customers to inform about brands and products.
Not only this, they handle returns, deliver order confirmations, send shipping and inventory updates, and more. They guide the prospective customer through a welcome screen that explains the functionality of the chatbots. They also enable businesses to customize the layout that may include images and introductory text.
The critical edge that chatbots have over human customer service executives is they are available 24/7.
Build Brand Awareness
To drive users to Facebook Messenger, Facebook is introducing an option for advertisers to target News Feeds. This will give advertisers the option of selecting ‘Messenger’ as a destination for target audience and control reach and delivery time.
The ads will appear directly in the News Feed and enable users to click on them and see its copy or any other structured messages of the retailer. This is designed to give the companies direct access to the customers after the Facebook Messenger has initiated initial interaction between the two.
The Facebook Messenger Chatbot Revolution
If you are familiar with chatbots, but only use them to try them out, much like iPhone’s Siri, then you need to explore this tool further. Although chatbots have not yet become a part of our lives, they hold tremendous possibilities. As of now, the best course would be to jump into the chatbots’ bandwagon to become one of its first adopters.
We give you the reasons for using a chatbot:
#1 Total Innovation
We stand at the threshold of exciting changes that chatbots offer, not only in changing consumer and workplace communications but also in better preparing you for changes as a professional.
It is important to adapt to this innovative tool that holds great yet-to-be-discovered potential at this juncture to derive full benefit for your business. If people take a liking for chatbots and start using them for their daily online operations, which seems most likely, it is in your business interest to be the first one to meet their needs.
#2 Messengers Have the Edge Over Social Networks
Going by the latest data, people have started using messenger apps more than social networks. People use Slack or Skype to communicate at work, chat with friends on Facebook Messenger or Google Talk. This is because people want to make their interactions personal again. And for a retailer, this is an opportunity to go for a chatbot that can be built into any major chat product, like Facebook Messenger or Slack.
#3 Chatbots are Most Adaptable
The days of chatbots that use predefined conversation flows written by humans are already over. Today, AI chatbots that use machine learning are in! These are more personal and human than the usual app.
What’s more, these chatbots can be infused with your personality, your brand’s identity and your way of shop-talking to your customers. These can even tweak messages depending on the feedback of users.
Chatbots are so adaptable that they can trick the user into thinking that they are interacting with humans since they use the social phrases like ‘please,’ ‘hello,’ ‘how’s it going,’ etc., instead of single-word commands like ‘sign up,’ ‘download,’ etc.
#4 Chatbots are Engaging
Chatbots are user-friendly and can express anything for promoting your brands. They attract and make people want to stay with you and interact with you for longer periods.
Not only are chatbots engaging, but they also don’t bombard the information about the product in a conventional way that leads to instant loss of interest for the user. They are designed to show only a bit of information about the product at a time, so as to hold the user’s interest and only elaborate on it if the product has aroused interest.
#5 Quick Building of Basic Chatbot
What clinches the debate in favor of chatbots is that you can build them really fast, as compared to, say, a cross-platform app. For businesspeople, this is a solid boon, since time matters to them. Facebook Messenger offers very practical and easy-to-use bot templates that get integrated into the Messenger platform the way you want them to.
Creating a chatbot is also not time-consuming, only creating the conversation and personality is. Once you have created the chatbot, you start getting the feedback from your users that can be used to improve it. What’s more, chatbots are not expensive to build and maintain.
Are Facebook Messenger Chatbots Overhyped?
The truth is that Facebook Messenger chatbots were overhyped, to begin with. However, according to David Marcus, the problem was that the basic capabilities that the Messenger initially provided were not good enough to offer users the support they advertised. However, the introduction of Messenger Platform 1.2 offers better structuring to integrate Facebook Messenger chatbots with the customer experience.
The retailers would do well to approach Facebook Messenger chatbots with caution since they are still in their infancy. It still needs time for customers’ total acceptability, because they are still not sophisticated enough to provide support the way humans can.
Retailers and brand managers can only wait for this exciting new opportunity that has the potential to not only to simplify business but to boost it.