What you need to know about Facebook's customer service chat bots

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Facebook announced during its annual global developers' conference that it will be incorporating chat bots into its Messenger platform.

Chat bots provide a software-generated response to a particular question or concern. And according to Facebook, such technology goes a long way in marketing products as well as in providing customer support. Want to know how? In this article, we list down some important facts about Facebook's customer service chat bots:

1.   It links users and businesses
Businesses use multichannel platforms to engage with consumers. Communication with customer care representative has evolved from from being conducted over the phone, to email, live chat, and now through social media.
Chat bots in Facebook's Messenger app provide a newer avenue for interaction to take place between brands and customers. These automated responses are a faster and more convenient mode of obtaining information as a particular customer can simply ask a question or raise a concern that can be resolved within the application itself, eliminating the need to exit the app to perform other tasks.

2.   It can provide a variety of information to consumers
Aside from answering questions, chat bots also have the capability to provide any kind of information – may it be about the weather, entertainment, world news, or a particular service.
In March this year, Facebook launched an airline bot that can deliver all flight details (including your itinerary, boarding pass, check-in confirmation, and even delay notifications) into one thread in the Messenger app.
Other companies are also jumping into the use of the service. For instance, recently-launched app Poncho allows a user to converse with a talking cat about the weather, movies, or even food recipes.

3.   Chat bots allow CSRs to focus on more complicated product concerns
Chat bots don't spell the end of human customer service. Instead, it can work hand-in-hand with customer care representatives.
Through chat bots, companies can use automation to perform low value or repetitive tasks so that customer service representatives can focus on complicated product concerns.

4.   Chat bots can automate sales processes
In a recent CNBC article, Zendesk's Royston Tay said that soon "bots will have a big part to play in automating sales processes." For example, if a person uses Messenger to ask if a particular shoe brand has a certain pair of stilettos in stock at a local store, the app would be able to say yes or no, AND offer the ability to reserve that kind of item or have them delivered to the customer's home.

5.   This is not the first time that chatbots were used
A Forbes piece claims that we are in a chat bot revolution. This means that different communication platforms have been using it to provide customer service, way before Facebook has long thought about doing so. Let's take for example WeChat, a messaging and calling app that can be used to book medical appointments or to shop for clothers, among many other tasks.

Digital marketing experts and social media pioneers like Mark Zuckerberg have seen the potential use of chat bots to improve business’services. But organizations must take extra care in creating such so as to prevent the spread of incoherent chat bots that may end up being annoying and useless to customers.