Facebook updates chatbot platform in Messenger

What Happened:

Facebook has updated its Messenger platform to allow chatbot developers to disable the natural text input in bot conversations, instead relying on a pre-configured menu of topics and replies to guide users to discover the information they need or perform a certain task. Facebook Messenger first introduced Quick Reply buttons to speed up conversations, and has since expanded it to guide more parts of consumer-bot conversations. With the latest update, now brands can devise a chatbot experience that feels less like chatting to a friend and more akin to navigating a barebone mobile app.

What Brands Need To Do:

The move away from conversational replies, whether already formatted or freely typed, diminishes the magic of chatbots by limiting the conversations to pre-set topics. At the moment, it’s too early to tell whether this update marks a shift in Facebook’s strategy in building its chatbot platform, or whether a significant amount of brands will take the easier route and opt for a less native and conversational experience.

Nevertheless, this update reveals two important trends in branded chatbot – one being that brands are having difficulties to craft a natural conversation flow to adequately serve customers, and another being that most AI powering the chatbots not mature enough to handle a freestyle conversation in natural languages.

Ultimately this is a symptom of growing pains in the development of conversational services, and Facebook’s update will serve as a temporary fix for brands wishing to establish the presence on Messenger but don’t necessary have the resources or technological capability to build a full-blown chatbot.

This update was courtesy of our friends at IPG Media Lab – the global media innovation hub that supports FCB Media NZ.

Date: March 07, 2017