Within just a month’s launch of the Facebook Messenger chatbots, about ten thousand developers have already signed up and making bots on the platform. In addition to the 10k developers, about 2500 Shopify merchants have also jumped onto the platform. Shopify sends out order confirmations and shipping information via their Messenger bot.
Stan Chudnovsky, the Messenger Product Head at the TechCrunch Disrupt NY addressed the audience saying that the Messenger team is dedicated to develop a faster, better and intuitive platform. The Messenger team is focused and making conscious decisions to expand the platform to soon reach a billion users.
Chudnovsky busted critic reviews, who believed that the early bots were dumb and useless. The critics said that it seemed that the bots were developed by techies who didn’t really understand users needs. Stan cited the example of iOS App Store launch explaining that the first basic apps were stepping stones to what the platform currently is. Similarly instead of internally testing bots, Facebook decided to go ahead and launch it directly to the public. In this way, they could gather abundant data to better serve and upgrade the platform.
A lot of developers have taken the leap and jumped on the platform to test its features and learn as they go. Chudnovsky says that early sign show that the chatbots are working, but its too early to really confirm its impact. It will now depend on how fast the team will react to the user feedback and incorporate the changes required.
Another issue raised at the Disrupt Conference was that the chatbots can get spammy and send you messages on a regular basis. This will clutter your inbox and drown your friendly conversations, making it annoying to use the bots. No one wants to check their phone and see a message from a bot everytime it buzzez. The messenger team is however, working on developing solutions for this problem. Chudnovsky says that they are working to develop a set of management controls that will handover control back to the users. And the introduction of bulk message delivery, different ringing modes and vibration patterns for bot messages can also help curb this issue.
The idea of moderating the bots and blocking spam using Messenger controls is a good idea. But, shouldn’t there there a way the developers could themselves moral-police their bots and understand the user requirements. And the answer is affirmative, Chudnovsky confirms that Facebook is building a full-fledged Bot Analytics platform to track the engagement, user retention and prioritization on the platform.
The team at Facebook headquarters is also working on developing a bundle of new and improved tools to help build better bots. It will help them better train and communicate with their bot, thus ditching the allegations of Dehumanization. The future of Messenger and chatbots as a whole is currently the main agenda on Facebook’s termsheet.
Chudnovsky believes that growth of Messenger has uplifted the person to person communication barrier, and is now looking to help businesses better communicate and reach more people via their platform. He also exclaims that new product launches are a success, and the introduction of group-voice calling saw a traffic of 11 million minutes in the first 24 hours.
The Product Head, thus, ended his talk at a positive note saying that,
We are trying to make the customer experience more human. It’s easier to chat and text than sit on the phone.