Social media has changed the way we interact with our customers and allows us to provide customer service solutions instantly, yet there is still room for improvement. I’ve always stressed that your brand should be using social media for customer service, and that it’s vital that your brand responds to these customers as quickly as possible. Yet, it’s impossible to respond to everyone in a timely manner; after all, we need to sleep.
While you sleep, you’re potentially missing out on inquiries from your customers – especially if your brand is global. This has always been a problem, and in the past, the only way to provide 24-hour customer service was to hire multiple customer service employees to work in shifts or wait until the next business day (to keep their sanity, most brands choose the latter option). Yet, bots could change this.
Adweek published an article this week stating that Facebook announced at their F8 developer conference that bots are coming to Facebook Messenger. With over 800-million users on Messenger (out of the 1.591-billion active monthly users on Facebook), bots have the potential to allow anyone to reach out to their favorite brands on their mobile device and ask questions or even place an order. As an example, Mark Zuckerberg showcased a bot from 1-800-Flowers to show the potential power of bots on Facebook:
“You never have to call 1-800-Flowers again,” said Zuckerberg. By speaking directly to the bot, Zuckerberg could have placed an order within seconds without even having to open an app, visit a website, or as he stated, pick up the phone. Fandango is getting in on the action too, as they allow users to find movie times instantly (and most likely purchase movie tickets after finding a showtime).
What does this mean for you, the small business owner? While this is pure speculation at the moment and Facebook posts are designed to entice people to interact with your brand and ultimately become customers, Facebook bots have the potential to take so many steps out of the equation. Just think: instead of enticing your followers to click a link to your brand’s website, add a product to their cart, and check out (which can take minutes), Facebook bots have the potential to allow followers to truly impulse buy. Instead of visiting your homepage, sending a quick message to your brand’s bot could theoretically be all it takes to make a purchase.
Of course, it could be an easy way for anyone to find the answers they are looking for instantly. While it won’t replace the human element, for those that are looking for quick answers, it could be a godsend. It would mean 24/7 customer service (with specialized customer service during normal business hours), thus potentially transforming customer service solutions all over again.
It’s a brave new world that we can see on the horizon, yet how impactful Facebook bots will be is still up in the air. The potential is certainly there, and it’s my hope that bots will be easily creatable for anyone (it’s not impossible to imagine Facebook releasing simple, streamlined tools that allow any brand to create a bot as easily as a Facebook Page). Hold on tight, because we may be on the cusps of yet another marketing revolution.