How to build a powerful Facebook chatbot
Friday, January 20, 2017
Imagine if you could connect with a large number of millennials, answer their top questions and help them effortlessly purchase from you. Did we mention you don't have to say a single word in the process?
With Facebook's chatbots, you can do this, right now.
So, what exactly is a chatbot? Essentially, it's an artificially intelligent computer program that answers your customers' questions. Chatbots function similarly to chats with a customer service representative over instant messaging. The main difference with chatbots is that there are a limited number of options and phrases the bot will respond to.
Chatbots are already big. As of Sept. 12, 2016, there were already 30,000 chatbots on Facebook. That's nearly three times the number of bots there were a mere three months earlier.
In 2017, chatbots are going to continue to grow. The medium provides a huge opportunity for your brand to automate customer service questions and purchases. Often, it can result in a better customer experience while cutting costs on your end.
Plus, since Facebook is heading the growth of chatbots, your audience is already there. Facebook Messenger had more than 1 billion monthly users as of July 2016. In total, there are more than 1 billion messages sent between people and businesses each month.
Read on to learn just what chatbots can do for your business and how you can build your own.
The best branded chatbots
1. 1-800-Flowers. This chatbot offers two options: talk to support or order flowers. Both options are used fairly evenly, said the president of 1-800 Flowers, Chris McCann, in a Digiday interview. Two months after launching, 70 percent of the chatbot orders had been from new customers, primarily younger consumers. Plus, this chatbot along with the Amazon Alexa and IBM Watson concierge service have attracted tens of thousands of users.
2. Whole Foods. Send a few emojis — like the avocado, shrimp and lemon — to this Facebook Messenger, and you'll get a recipe back. You can also ask or browse for recipes.
3. Kayak. Find and book a flight or hotel by answering a few simple questions, like your departure, destination and dates. That's it. It's like a free, digital travel agent.
How to build a chatbot for your business
There are a couple of different ways to make this happen.
1. Have a developer build it. With tools like wit.ai, you can quickly and easily build a chatbot. Facebook also offers detailed instructions on how to create a bot, if you have a coding background. Avoid having a developer make a chatbot from scratch. It will be too time- and cost-intensive. Plus, there are many tools out there to lend a helping hand.
3. Opt for an agency. There are tech firms out there that specialize in building chatbots. This is often a pricier option but may work best if you need something unique.
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