You might think that Facebook remains a social media service for friends to share pics of their children or nights out. That assumption is rapidly going out of date, as it becomes an interactive extension of people’s day-to-day lives, helping them order pizzas or taxis, make fashion choices and more.
This isn’t done by people talking to people, but by users chatting to bots in the Messenger app. An increasing number of businesses and brands run a Messenger chatbot, which can be created through a number of services. They work because a new generation of users are happy to talk to machines because they reduce the cost of customer support for a business or free up actual agents for the important customer service calls.
Creating a bot is relatively simple to do, reducing the barrier to entry and can be used as a concierge or information service, a customer service contact point, or simply a fun way for people to pass the time talking about a subject they like when no one else is around.
The benefits of using Facebook Messenger are that it is already a familiar interface to users, most companies have substantial or growing Facebook presence and there is a minimum difference between talking to a bot or a person using it.
There are many solutions out there to build a bot for use on Messenger. All the major IT services are investing in them, from Amazon’s Lex to IBM’s Bluemix, all of which work happily on Messenger. There are also lots of dedicated chatbot creation tools, like SnatchBot, that work across most social media, apps or online platforms and are free to experiment with.
The first thing any company needs to do is establish what they want to talk about, questions they may want to answer and information their bot should give. Writing this out as a script, along with when to refer to a customer support email or phone line, perhaps depending on the time, will help the creation process along. Establish the key questions you want to ask and feed those into the bot’s Q&A mode.
With SnatchBot you sign up and can create a bot either using a template, such as brand, cinema, store or restaurant, or you can start from scratch. Click ‘Add an Interaction’ to start composing questions and answers. Start off by saying hello using what is called a ‘Bot Statement’. On the Bot Structure page, you can use your script to fill out the various interactions for your chatbot.
Bots can also provide users with action or option buttons, message audio or video - ideal for customer support purposes and even record messages so a human support agent has a clear idea of the problem.
Finally, add the appropriate contact details for endpoints in the bot script. When ready, you can create the channels for your Bot, In SnatchBot, this can include the web, Facebook Messenger, Slack, Skype and other communications services.
Go to the Channels menu, select Facebook Messenger and log into your Facebook account. This links SnatchBot to the Facebook account, but it cannot post to it. However, when a customer or follower tries to access your Messenger, they will communicate with the bot, rather than your, your social media team or other workers.
The bot has a Webview Control over Facebook Messenger, allowing you to adjust the display height of the in-app browser window, for a consistent look and feel. Any business can get a bot up and running in short order, and with a little effort, create a fluent and useful tool for interacting with people where they spend their time.