What Ecomm Companies Need To Know About Facebook Chat Bots

The robots are coming for our jobs. No, seriously. They’re replacing cashiers at McDonalds, putting stockbrokers out of work, and now – ¬†as though outsourcing to India wasn’t bad enough – the robots are coming for customer service and sales.

This week at their F8 conference Facebook announced a new chat bot tool, Agents on Messenger, which will allow companies to create chat flows within messenger that can communicate to customers. They launched with a few clunky partnerships with media and retail companies like 1800 Flowers and Poncho, and these early examples definitely betray the potential of what’s before us.

For ecommerce professionals there are a few things you should be taking note of here:

Your CS teams should be worried

The internet has been evolving faster than CS teams can keep up with and they’re often left with a ¬†patchwork collection of tools for managing chat, social networks, emails, and calls. Content teams and data scientists have been laboring over ways to better help customers self serve and get them to the right support material…but perhaps a more conversational tool is the trick. Chat could potentially put a quick and direct route to CS on the phones of 900 million people, and deliver them an almost personal experience.

Your email and mobile teams should be learning

In Asia, chat platforms have been a marketing channel for ages with retailers hopping on apps like Line. In the US, however, companies have been slow to adopt, even as the number of users on apps like Kik and Messenger grow. The advantage is huge, first of al the ridiculous regulations of SMS make it costly and will have you living in fear of class action lawsuits ( I think I’ve gotten paid from Abercrombie and Steve Madden so far.) Your teams should be staying on top of these, brainstorming ways to drive opt ins, think through product suggestion flows, or thinking of what a drip messaging campaign might look like in this channel.

Mobile is personal

If you hadn’t gathered already, communicating on mobile is extremely personal. We can’t communicate to users on this device in the same way, and companies need to do more to bend to the types of tools, copy, and technology that work best for today’s customer. Mobile is a place where you use their first name, you anticipate what they want, and you speak like a friend.