With the F8 developer conference this past Tuesday and the announcement of new chatbot functionality, Facebook Messenger as a platform for customer service has been a hot topic in the news recently. This platform, first introduced in August of 2011, has made great waves in the past few months. It started off as an addition to the Facebook App as a way to make messaging on Facebook a lot easier. In April of 2014, Facebook required people to download the Messenger app by removing the ability to send and receive messages on Android and iOS through the Facebook mobile app. While many users responded negatively, Facebook seemed to have very good reason and analytics to back up their decision. During a Q&A, Mark Zuckerberg explained, “Asking everyone in our community to install a new app is a big ask. I appreciate that that was work and required friction. We wanted to do this because we believe that this is a better experience. Messaging is becoming increasingly important. On mobile, each app can only focus on doing one thing well, we think.” When we look at where Messenger has headed today, in retrospect, these decisions make a lot more sense.
In December of 2015, just a few months ago, Facebook introduced Facebook Messenger for Business. This allowed businesses to chat and send messages with customers through Facebook Messenger. Within the past few months, a few companies have been making headlines for their adoption of Facebook Messenger for Business as their customer service platform and we think the adoption of messaging technology is a smart move for businesses (see our blog posts on asynchronous messaging for more information). KLM Royal Dutch Airlines became the first air carrier to adopt Facebook Messenger for customer service at the end of March. Through the platform, travelers are able to access information about boarding passes, flight times, check-in times and much more, all to make the overall travel express less stressful. Shortly after, Newegg announced that it would be offering customer support via Facebook Messenger, an app that most people already have downloaded on their phones.
Just a couple weeks after these announcements came the F8 developer conference where Facebook introduced their Bot Platform. Rather than having to go through a long winded process to fill out a form or call someone, Facebook users will be able to message a company and interact with it via an artificially intelligent chatbot. An example used at the conference showed a customer ordering flowers for delivery by simply massaging the company’s bot on Facebook Messenger. The idea is that these bots can help complete almost any service that exists on the web from ordering food and buying tickets to making reservations and getting customer support problems resolved. Within hours of this announcements, companies like Salesforce and Zendesk made announcements of their own about new products coming in the pipeline that will integrate with Facebook’s bots.
As technology continues to advance and machines are able to do more of what was previously reserved for manpower, people will continue talking about how industries like ours may be negatively affected. But we aren’t afraid. We are excited about the new channels and advancements that this can bring. We love change, we love transformation, we love growth. We thrive on technological innovation and believe new technology works best to improve the customer experience when it can work hand in hand with our people. Facebook’s chatbots are just a step forward in the constant technological evolution of our century that will help us provide an even better service for our clients and their end users.