Bots are computer programs designed to, among other things, stimulate conversation with a human being. You’ve definitely encountered bots in your travels around the internet; they’re notorious for creating off-topic comments on blog posts and sending spam to your email. Facebook believes that bots can be turned into a force for good, and at their most recent developer’s conference, F8, announced that specific types of bots will be available for use via Facebook Messenger.
At this point, we’re talking about bots that respond to customer queries sent to your business via Facebook Messenger. This means if someone sends a message to your restaurant asking if they could book a reservation, the bot can secure a table for them, confirming the time and number of diners, without you ever having to do anything. Bots can be used for a number of tasks, including providing order updates, localized weather reports, and even making sales.
Creating a bot isn’t the most complicated thing in the world, but you do need some tech knowledge to do it. Rather than having their business customers brave the world of developing on their own, Facebook is releasing a list of approved bot providers, professionals who will create bots that accurately perform the tasks you want them to while remaining in compliance with Facebook’s operating guidelines.
It’s important to understand that the functionality of the Facebook Messenger bots is still developing. Customers are capable of generating an infinite amount of queries, and no artificial intelligence system has thus far proven itself to be able to answer all of them. However the technology has reached the point where Messenger bots can handle the majority of customer inquiries specific to a business type, hence the roll out of the new technology. If you haven’t started thinking about Messenger as a sales and customer service channel, the time to do so is now. If bots actually work the way Facebook is clearly hoping they do, a new revenue stream may soon be flowing into your business.