A few days ago, reports came in that Facebook would be launching developer tools for chatbots and a live chat platform for Messenger at its F8 event. Now, along with announcing Messenger as a platform, we have official word from the social giant that chatbots are a thing.
The company hopes to make Messenger a central link between customers and businesses with this new development. The company, as we reported earlier, wants chat bots to replace hotline customer care numbers. This automated customer care service will reduce human intervention and make the customer relations sector more efficient.
The bot approach isn’t a new thing in the world of technology though. Automated bots date back to a very long time ago. In fact, many of today’s major chat applications offer bot services. May it be to provide news and other information or just to kill your boredom, bots are everywhere. But what’s so special about Messenger supporting bots is that the services provided will be more versatile. Another important factor is that Messenger gets more than 900 million monthly active users which will scale the success of the new bots API very high. The app is also the second most popular app on iOS globally.
The chat app also has more than 50 million businesses on the social network with more than 1 billion messages sent every month.
Today’s announcement brought to us an API that allows developers to build chat bots for Messenger and chat widgets for the web. This will allow developers to easily get their bots applications online. As a demonstration, CEO Mark Zuckerberg showed bots from CNN and 1-800-FLOWERS at the F8 conference in San Francisco today. The news bot sent latest news to Zuck’s Messenger apps which became personalized with each string and the flowers hotline showed an interaction where a person ordered flowers using conversational language.
The chatbots are, in many ways, a huge improvement over the 1-800 numbers. They can send links, show images and provide detailed descriptions of items, services or features, something humans over a phone aren’t as good at.
The company is also rolling out Live Chat buttons that will redirect Web users to Messenger, where a bot or human (or a combination of the two) can take over the conversation. This allows for a better user experience and helps users get their answers more easily.
Apparently, Facebook’s primary aim regarding the chatbots API is the commercial sector. This, though, doesn’t mean that publishers and other sectors cannot use the live chat system for their own purposes.