Facebook has launched a Messenger Bot system to allow businesses to provide an “instant” point of contact to people looking for general information. The idea behind the service is to eliminate the need to call a 1-800 number, as stated by Zuckerberg. Facebook released the API to allow businesses to set up their own bots, so you can round out your customer service and sales strategy by automating your Facebook messages.
The platform is not without its faults, and one of them makes the service seem almost pointless. Both third party bots and Facebook’s own “M” bot take an uncomfortably long amount of time to reply initially. Most users have to wait about 4 minutes before getting an initial reply, and those replies usually ask for more clarification. One of the biggest complaints about 800 numbers and phone queues is those automated menus that seem to never understand you properly. This MADtv segment, while obviously satirical, feels far too familiar for people who have had to deal with these kinds of menus.
What Facebook has done with the messenger bots is effectively slowed down these menus and brought them into an IM format. While I’m sure these bots will become a must-have for businesses in the coming months, unless the response time and efficiency improves, you’re probably better off just sticking to Google, or looking up information on the company’s website.
You can learn more about the Messenger Bots and Facebook’s 10 year plan on NeimanLab’s summary of F8 here.