In 2011, Facebook launched Messenger. Today, the platform has more than one billion users.
It’s almost five years since its launch, Chatbots, conversational robots run by algorithms, have embarked on the application.
The arrival of Chatbots on Messenger was perceived as a bomb in the digital world.
The experts split in two: the optimistic ones who saw the full potential of Chatbots and the pessimists highlighting all the past failures of these robots.
The press has notably titled “Please Facebook, do not let me talk to these ugly Chatbots” (The Guardian) or “The Facebook Chatbots are frustrating and useless”. (Gizmodo).
However, keep in mind that Facebook only develops Bots tools, not the final tool. It would therefore be more judicious to throw the stone on the right target: the developers of Bots …
The first generation of Messenger Chatbot was able to order his meal or send air tickets on his laptop. These were appreciated and highly effective.
However, other inefficient Bots provoked controversy, prompting David Marcus, Messenger’s manager, to declare ChatBots as old-fashioned and boring.
Today, this speech is over. Nearly 1.2 billion entities communicate on Messenger and contrary to popular belief, they are not all human. More than 100,000 conversations have been created by developers for the Facebook platform. Every month, these Chatbots send 2 billion messages.
The turning point of Messenger
We spoke with Anand Chandrasekaran, director of products and partnerships at Messenger, to understand how the platform has grown. He summarized Chatbots’ success in three key factors:
1- Design elements that support conversations
2- Improved entry points for the consumer
3- Understanding monetization for developers, brands and businesses.
The need for visual aids pushed Facebook to add media and interfaces. One of Chandrasekaran’s favorite Bots, Epytom, uses image and language understanding to give customers clothing advice and products.
Chandrasekaran, however, also highlighted the weak points of these Bots.
To be able to interact with a Bot Messenger you have to access it via the Facebook page of a brand (unless you are already familiar with the Bot and the brand). Most of the time consumers will not press the “send us a message” button. Moreover, even if the client has already interacted with the Bot, the conversation is lost in their history because it is mixed with their personal discussions (with your Facebook friends). A customer who can not easily get in touch with a Bot is quickly discouraged. He gives up the conversation.
“We knew this behavior was important, but it was talking to the developers that we realized the problem. It also allowed us to understand customer expectations, “says Chandrasekaran. To solve the problem of losing Bots conversations in personal conversations and creating the Bots of tomorrow, Facebook has recently introduced Bots at the top of the screen that are more accessible.
Also, Facebook has launched a new service: “The M Suggestions”. This option offers solutions that are useful for a given situation. For example by sending: “I’m on the road”, the Bot will directly offer a share of position with your interlocutor. This option can also be extended to applications like Lyft or Uber to allow you to order your taxi online.
Finally, Bots are mainly used for social activities like ordering a concert ticket, buying new clothes or organizing a trip.
Chatbots are integrated into Messenger conversations, right next to the text box and uploading photos.
From growth to monetization
The avant-garde consumers of Chatbots quickly identified their potential to generate a flow on their activities.
SnapTravel has recently raised nearly $ 8 million. The company allows consumers to book a room via SMS and Messenger application. According to Chandrasekaran, SnapTravel would earn nearly $ 1 million, only through Messenger.
Meanwhile, brands like KLM, T-Mobile and Sephora have developed Messenger Chatbots that deliver a consistent consumer experience with their brand.
Chandrasekaran claims that Sephora Chatbots represent 11% more than the other digital channels of the brand. In addition to boosting business revenue, Juniper Reserch calculated that Chatbot would reduce business spending by at least $ 8 billion by 2022.