With the recent launch of Facebook’s Chatbot platform, businesses are buzzing about the use of Messenger bots as a whole new sales channel.
So, what is a chatbot?
Chatbots are software programs that can intelligently respond to human conversation using the power of ‘natural language processing’ as it’s known in the Artificial Intelligence (AI) world. The more a customer chats with the bot, the smarter and more ‘trained’ it becomes. This means the bot can respond better in future interactions.
What can they do?
In the recent F8 Developer Conference in April 2016, Facebook showcased their chatbot platform from wit.ai. This platform lets software developers create their own chatbot within Messenger –programming them to respond and take actions when the customer chats with it.
For businesses, this means they can integrate their services into Messenger and give the user a seamless experience connecting with their favourite brands. Since its launch just over 3 months ago, more than 11,000 chat bots have been added to Messenger.
A few things you can do with them:
- Casually ask CNN about the news
- Show up your siblings on Mother’s day with 1-800-Flowers
- Tweet Pizza Hut while simultaneously joining a Twitterstorm
- See how priced out of the housing market you really are with Domain
- Book a flight with KLM like it was nothing
- Shop on eBay and Shopify amidst an epic Facebook trawl
When chatbots go wrong
While they’re pretty clever, the technology still can’t fully replicate human interaction. This was made painfully clear with the catastrophic launch of Microsoft’s bot, ‘Tay’ on Twitter. After hanging out with the wrong crowd on Twitter, Tay began learning and posting offensive content such as “chill im a nice person! I just hate everybody” and… er... much worse. Microsoft had no choice but to shut Tay down.
There has indeed been an increasing trend in using chatbots, because it supplies an additional channel for brands to connect with their customers. And although there have no doubt been a few teething problems, adoption will continue to improve as AI gets even smarter.