Do consumers really want to talk with bots?

Facebook said it is working with more than two dozen companies on a new initiative aimed at turning its Messenger app into a hub for shopping, news and entertainment. But while Facebook tries to lure brands back to the site, perhaps they should ask consumers is they really want to talk to a bot as opposed to a real person?

Research has shown time and time again that nothing is more frustrating to consumers than calling customer service and being stuck in a phone tree with recordings telling them”how important their call is”. Now Facebook is trying to convince brands that the answer to al their online problems are bots.

First, let me say that some bots do have some utility. You can ask your smartphone the weather or traffic on the way to work, but do consumers really want boots to help them shop? Facebook’s Messenger app is OK, but more people use iChat on their iPhones than Facebook’s Messenger. In addition, this strategy by Facebook could be a direct challenge to Apple iOS software. If I want to talk to a brand I’ll do so within the brand’s website usually with a “let’s chat” app installed on the site.

I have spent a lot of time reading, conducting and interpreting research and what I have learned is that consumers don’t want to be bothered with sales messages on social media. This would explain why organic reach of social media is nearly zero. Sure, there are stats that show people are spending a lot of time on Facebook, but that’s because of two reasons. First, they are bored and can quickly check their Facebook feed to see what’s new and second Facebook does a decent job of topics in users’ news feeds, although this is dangerous as they see the world through a Facebook algorithm.

My guess is that if a consumer has a problem or a question about a product the last thing they want to hear is that their question is being answered by a bot instead of a real person. Facebook is the number one site on the Web and maybe they should concentrate on a better user experience as too many people still don’t understand how to ass feeds to their page. This is more hype than reality and next time instead of doing something like this they should ask consumers first.


Originally published at www.newmediaandmarketing.com on April 13, 2016.

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