With a hope by simulating one-on-one conversations between users and companies it will expand its reach in customer service and enterprise transactions, Facebook Inc has opened up its Messenger app to developers to create “chatbots,”
Facebook recently launched chatbots with a handful of partners, including Shopify, an ecommerce site, and cable TV news network CNN.
Chatbots are automated programs that help users communicate with businesses and carry out tasks such as online purchases. While chatbots have existed in some form for years, they have recently become a hot topic in the tech business as advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning make them far more capable and potentially able to assume a key role in the way customers communicate with businesses.
The chatbots are part of Facebook’s effort to build out its Messenger instant messaging app as the go-to place for customers to contact businesses – a strategy that threatens traditional call centres and may cut personnel costs for some businesses.
Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg during company’s annual developer conference in San Francisco, said “You’ll never have to call 1-800-Flowers again,”
Though messaging platforms including Kik, Slack and Telegram already have chatbots, Facebook is seen having several distinct advantages.
“From the enterprise or developer perspective, access to those 1.6 billion people is very exciting,” said Lauren Kunze, principal at Pandorabots, which has been building and deploying chatbots for companies since 2002.
“People like a personalized experience and when the chatbot can remember personal details and follow up,” she said.