6 obvious ways to engage customers now with Facebook chatbots

22

APRIL 2016

“We think you should be able to message a business in the same way you message a friend.” -Mark Zuckerberg

Chatbots, which use artificial intelligence to carry on humanlike conversations via the web and messaging apps, are a key piece of Facebook’s 10-year business plan unveiled at the F8 developer conference on April 12. The conversations, carried out via text messages on Facebook Messenger, allow users to quickly ask a question, find information or make a purchase without having to use a search engine or dig through menus on a website.

6 obvious ways to engage customers now with Facebook chatbots

What makes chatbots for Messenger especially appealing to businesses? Messenger has already done the crowd gathering for you, with 900 million active monthly users on the platform. You don’t have to create a new app and hope people download it—a conversation is only a tap away.

Chatbots are also easy to find and use. All a user has to do to start a conversation is type the name of a bot in Messenger’s search bar.

PRACTICAL USES, LIMITLESS POSSIBILITIES

While Messenger’s chatbots are still in their infancy, the Facebook API makes them relatively easy to develop and deploy. Your business might be able to launch a fairly sophisticated chatbot without an exorbitant IT investment.

Of course, all the rules of good content still apply. Make sure your chatbot creates a good experience for your customers, and that their inquiries are being addressed.

CNN ChatbotPoncho ChatbotSpring Chatbot
Here are six immediately practical uses for chatbots, with limitless possibilities for businesses looking to create their own. Users can:

1.Read the news: The Wall Street Journal and CNN’s chatbots deliver curated news coverage as they learn about topics people are interested in.

Business suggestion: Your chatbot can serve up personalized content based on users’ interests and response.

2. Request a ride in Uber’s chatbot. Users connect existing accounts in Messenger, or sign up for a new one in seconds.

Business suggestion: Track the time of day or day of the week your users interact with your bot the most, and send notifications or reminders during those opportune moments.

3. Get the forecast: Poncho, the sassy weather cat, will not only tell you the weather, but if the frizz level is on high alert. Say goodbye to bad hair days!

Business suggestion: Not all bots have to be serious! Inject some humor into mundane everyday tasks like checking traffic or budgeting.

4. Shop: Spring’s conversational commerce bot helps shoppers find the perfect piece from over 1,000 brands. First it asks if shoppers want women’s or men’s clothes, then helps them select a price range and choose from clothes, shoes or accessories. Finally, the bot serves up shoppable thumbnail images.

Business suggestion: Use data from past purchases to send new product notifications to those most willing to buy. Entice new customers with discount and flash sale messages instead of emails, which may end up in the trash.

5. Buy flowers: Need to order a bouquet in a pinch? Choose an arrangement, write a note, confirm the delivery address and pay within 1-800-Flowers’ chatbot.

Business suggestion: Remind customers of upcoming events and holidays to take advantage of big shopping seasons. For events, allow users to buy tickets and merchandise, or make donations, via your chatbot.

6. Ask a health question: Say adios to the days of waiting on hold with the doctor’s office. A physician in HealthTap’s network of 100,000 doctors will respond (for free!) and the bot also directs users to the website with answers to similar questions.

Business suggestion: Let bots answer common questions, so your customer service team can handle more complicated issues.

HealthTap ChatbotHealthTap Chatbot

That’s just the tip of the bot-berg. Check out a full list of Messenger bots on Botlist.

DATA-RICH GOLD MINES

Keep in mind, the artificial intelligence behind chatbots is still a new science. Some chatbots still have kinks to be worked out and language skills to learn.

Even so, chatbots have the potential to become data-rich gold mines for advertisers as they “learn” user preferences. And Facebook plans to allow businesses to send sponsored messages in the future.

It’s a fascinating frontier in the constantly evolving world of social and digital advertising.

I’d love to hear how you’ve interacted with chatbots and what your experience was like. Please leave a comment or tweet @studionorthusa.

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Allison Grant

Allison Grant

Social Media Coordinator

As StudioNorth's Social Media Coordinator, Allison has perfected the art of writing in 140 characters or less. When she's not tweeting, she enjoys reading, road trips and the great outdoors.

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