Tech

We really don’t want to sound like a line out of a scary science-fiction film…. But the robots are coming. Specifically chat bots. And they’re going to be contacting you via Facebook. Specifically Facebook Messenger.

The reason we don’t want this to sound like a science fiction film is twofold.

Firstly, because it’s not fiction, it’s happening now.

And secondly, because it’s not scary, it’s an opportunity you’re not going to get again. You don’t have to worry that your robot is going to go rogue and destroy the earth. It’s not going to do that. Though we do need to acknowledge the elephant in the room: Microsoft’s “Tay” Twitter bot experiment, that went entirely awry, and started mirroring the downright vile rhetoric that was thrown at it by aggressively Tweeting audiences.

We’re talking more Siri, less Tay. Except more purpose-driven, rather than just a random iPhone add-on (sorry Siri).

An image of Microsoft's Tay– not exactly a chat bot.

Microsoft’s Tay– not exactly a chat bot.

At F8, the Facebook Developer Conference held in April this year, Mark Zuckerberg heralded the rise of chat bots:

“We think that you should just be able to message a business in the same way you message a friend,” Mark Zuckerberg said onstage during Facebook’s developer conference last week. “You should get a quick response. And it shouldn’t take your full attention like a phone call would. And you shouldn’t have to install a new app.”

All this “quick response” stuff sounds great, Mark. Very nice. In a perfect world. But not everyone has time to respond to customer’s instant messages instantly, and we can’t be expected to be more of a slave to Facebook than we already are.

 

Is a chat bot the way to get that "Very Responsive" button?

Is a chat bot the way to get that “Very Responsive” button?

By now, you will have seen those response rate badges on Facebook Business pages by now. To get a “Very Responsive” badge, you have to respond to messages in an average of 15 minutes. 15 minutes? We have to sleep sometime! But robots don’t. See what we mean?

Another point Zuckerberg raised was the idea of app-switching, and the irksome task it has become. We recently wrote about the Google keyboard– or Gboard– and how it plans to remove the friction of all this app-swapping by adding search functions into the keyboard itself. This chat bot idea is in that same vein: consumers demand simplicity, and will flock to whomever can deliver it. Chat bots can make you appear reliable, responsive, knowledgeable, friendly even. That’s PR gold.

This is good news. Because, as a business, you could be behind that robot. This is the kind of stuff that fills us with childlike wonder. Maybe the bots will be just a really high-tech answer machine. But they will be a simple solution to a complicated problem. A complicated, very common problem.

Shall we save you a seat on the spaceship?