One step closer to AI ruling us all.

At its F8 Developers Conference in April, among the many announcements Facebook made was the introduction of a tool for developers to build bots into Facebook Messenger. This came on the heels of Facebook opening up Messenger for businesses to help them better interact with customers and their general fan bases.

With the help of the bots Facebook is hoping businesses will be able to take their services a notch higher and particularly improve the customer service for an overall improved user experience.

While announcing the launch of the Messenger platform for businesses, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said people do not like calling businesses, no matter how important a matter, and that it is far more convenient to just message a business and get an instant reply, than is to ring them and wait as your call is passed from person to person. Not only is messaging far more convenient, since it doesn’t take up all your attention, it can also be used by businesses to deliver faster and better service to customers.

Those among us who intensely dislike having to deal with call centers or customer service desks should take note. Businesses, too, should look at the potential that chat bots present to improve customer service as well as free up the employees to do something else.

Bots are programs that do your bidding. They can book appointments for customers, place orders or simply address their issues. Skype, Telegram, YouTube, and Foursquare have already been using bots for enhanced user experience.

Here are some ways we think live chat bots can help businesses deliver better service and improve customer relationships.

Anticipate customers’ questions

The purpose of chat bots is to save time for businesses while serving customers efficiently.

One way of achieving this is to program the bots to anticipate questions, in the manner of frequently asked questions.

Businesses can choose the kind and the number of questions they are frequently asked and set the bots up to anticipate and answer them for their customers.

Instant responses, fast redressal

The Messenger platform for businesses aims to help companies give instantaneous responses to customers by cutting through multiple channels and shortening the waiting time. Response time is crucial on social and a delay in this regard reflects badly on the business.

With chat bots added to the mix, this process can get even faster. Businesses will be able to serve their customer base round the clock, across time zones and over the weekend. Bots are free of 9-to-5 or geographic restraints.

When customers know their queries will be entertained any time of the day or week, it has a positive impact on the reputation of the concerned businesses.

Detailed and efficient guidance on product use

We see the chat bots being of particular use for businesses that deal in technology. Not everyone is fond of reading user manuals, and even if they do, it is understandable if they need someone to explain the technical details to them seeing as the language used in the manuals many not always be very easy to understand.

A chat bot can be set up to perform this in a quick and helpful manner. The guidance would also remain constant each time a user contacts the bot, unlike in the human case where the language as well as the amount of material relayed may differ from person to person, and occasion to occasion. Bots are particularly suited to automated tasks that are “structurally repetitive” in nature.

Free up the manpower of businesses

With chat bots in place, business owners can expand the role of customer service executives and direct their focus on other aspects of business too.

Multiple functions from within one app

With bots in place, users will be able to carry out a number of functions from within the Messenger app without having to take a break from chatting with their friends. For example, pulling up the information of weather, making a restaurant reservation, ordering flowers, or even booking an Uber cab–all of this will be done from within one app, which Facebook says sees 900 million active users per month.

Those who aren’t keen on this app will eventually come around to it, and we expect a quick surge in the number of people utilizing Messenger on a daily basis.

But what about the human touch?

It might be unnerving for people to approach a business knowing that a bot would be the one to respond, not a living, breathing human being.

But this has already been happening and is the way of the future.

USA Today presented this development as ‘Never call a business again with Facebook’s chat bots.’ And that is essentially the purpose of a chat bot. To some this comes as a mighty relief – actually not having to deal with humans and certainly not having to make those interminable phone calls. But to the slightly old-fashioned among us it is reassuring to have a human respond to us when something goes wrong.

How the future pans out under the bots remains to be seen. Microsoft has already added Facebook Messenger to its bot framework. Regardless, the bot technology is in a nascent stage, but it sure presents a tremendous opportunity to businesses who are serious about improving customer service and for the users who don’t really care about who they are chatting with as long as they are getting all the answers they need and on time.

What is your take on the matter? Do you think bots are the way to go for businesses? Is your company prepared to save time and money, while expanding customer service hours and creating a better customer experience, by automating your apps or social media bots? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!


Pete Peranzo

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