You Need to Start Paying Attention to Bots

Recently at their F8 Conference, Facebook announced they were going to start giving brands the ability to build messenger bots within its Messenger platform. A very small part of the internet nerded out and the vast majority of the world ignored it and went on with their day. Well I am telling everyone that will listen that you need to pay attention to these little scripts, because bots will be game changers.

Sounds Awesome and Scary, So What The Hell is a Bot?

Bots are pre-programmed digital interactions users can have with a business that appear to be with another human, but in reality the conversation is with a machine. There is a small level of Artificial Intelligence (AI) involved with messenger bots, as they have the ability to learn user behavior over time based on interactions to better anticipate customer needs.

If you have a smartphone, and if you don’t you probably aren’t reading this, you probably became somewhat aware of bots when Apple introduced Siri in 2011, but this next generation of bots is far more advanced and customizable.

Makes Sense, But How Will Bots Change My Online Experience?

Imagine arriving at a football game and having your hot dogs and beers ordered and paid for through a text. Or being able to get on Messenger and complete tasks such as purchasing a new shirt, finding the delivery status of a gift you sent to a friend, making a dinner reservation, getting directions, sending a friend money, booking a flight or getting a haircut appointment. These examples are just the tip of the iceberg of what bots could offer.

According to a 2015 report, since 2008 people are spending more time on their phone than the previous year. While they are spending a lot more time on their phones, 85% of their time is spent on using only five apps. This means that it is more important than ever for brands to meet their customers where they already are. With 900 million Messenger users, a large amount of customers are already on Messenger. That also means there are potentially millions of queries happening on a regular basis for bots to learn from and customize user needs all the way down to specific industries.

These types of interactions are what Facebook is aiming to solve. They are looking to help brands mimic the interaction of a real person while completing all of the tasks the customer needs and this as a potential game changer for brands.

Sounds Good For Me, But What Does This Mean for Brands?

While brands have been experimenting with ways to cut down on their human work force (using automated phone systems or a mix of bots and humans such as Living Actor for baseline inquiries), Messenger opens bots open to a much larger and more diverse pool of brands.

Facebook is not simply opening the source code for businesses and letting those with the money and time develop custom bots, but they are also providing brands with access to developers and bots that are already built to successfully handle basic customer service. This means that Messenger bots are not just for the Fortune 500, but even the local mom and pop pizza shop.

Brands can save money by eliminating outsourced customer service or better utilize their employees time by to focus on bigger picture objectives by using bots to handle their baseline customer service queries . CNN and 1–800-Flowers are two of the brands already utilizing Messenger bots, and that list will just continue to grow.

Bots will only grow in popularity as humans begin to care more about how quickly and accurately they can get their problem solved, and bots will also be a cheaper customer service alternative for businesses looking to increase their bottomline. Don’t freak out because SkyNet isn’t going live, but each day we are getting that much closer.