Chatbots have been around for quite some time, but businesses have had trouble getting them fully off the ground. Before a certain social media giant started participating in the chatbot scene, consumers were required to download various apps on their devices for access.
With Facebook’s Messenger welcoming businesses to create their own chatbots for integration, we’ve been seeing more companies looking for ways in which to participate and take advantage. After the social media site’s Messenger announcement last April, we’ve seen more businesses clamoring to move into the chatbot game.
Rather than build out chatbots on their own sites, businesses are moving into a social space where nearly 2 billion captive members of the world’s 7 billion people visit on a monthly basis.
Over the past year since Facebook’s Messenger chatbot integration, we’ve seen several articles arguing whether or not businesses should or shouldn’t jump on board and build out a system of their own. One article that makes the argument for chatbot cites three stats from a study to help support its claim that chatbots aren’t going anywhere soon.
51 percent of people say a business needs to be available 24/7.
While having access to a business 24/7 may seem appealing to consumers with emergencies, companies should weigh the pros and cons. There’s a possibility that with that always-on customer service, operation costs will skyrocket through the roof. On the other hand, Facebook’s Messenger is enabled with natural language processing that enables AI to respond to consumers in real time without a necessary company representative. In the event of a consumer emergency, there’s the chance this may backfire and make people unhappy.
45.8 percent would rather contact a business through messaging than email.
Given the lag at times with email responses (or blanket auto-email responses, which can sometimes be worse), messaging provides an instantaneous response. Because of the quick back-and-forth, consumers and businesses are likely able to be able to express themselves in a more meaningful exchange than by static email.
49.4 percent would rather contact a business through messaging than phone.
The same can be said for consumers selecting messaging over making a phone call. Consumers likely want the appearance of speaking with an actual person versus a machine. With most businesses defaulting to an automated robot voice system to help route calls, the call to remedy a consumer problem may cause more headaches than the initial issue. Due to the natural language processing on chatbots, consumers are at least given the illusion they’re being heard by a real person.
Some, however, are arguing against businesses integrating into the Facebook Messenger platform via developing custom chatbots. The reasons given why businesses may want to pump the brakes on moving forward on this initiative are twofold, including concerns of consumer privacy and the possibility of businesses owning their data.
The article makes its point for consumer privacy by highlighting the group of millennials that tend to be a bit more trustworthy online. It said, “According to a study released last year, 80 percent of millennials find it vital or extremely important that personally identifiable, financial, and medical data be shared only with those whom they have authorized access. This desire for privacy and security means using Facebook as the primary platform for service just won’t work; more than half of adults don’t trust Facebook with their data.”
As we reported earlier this month, companies like Domino’s Pizza and ATB Financial have joined the Facebook Messenger chatbot phenomenon. The impact of businesses joining up with the social media giant is relatively unknown for the time being as there haven’t been any major studies conducted or published to help support one way or the other.
Making the argument for businesses (and Facebook) owning consumers’ data, the piece highlights why it may not be the best move to develop a chatbot. It said, “Customer service conversations gather incredible amounts of data on people — such as who they are, what they like and don’t like, what drives them toward a purchase or cancellation. Facebook makes billions of dollars a year by enabling companies to do targeted advertising, and that platform will only be more valuable once millions of customers are using it to reveal information to businesses.”
When it comes down to it, businesses looking into the long-term impact of chatbots on their business may be opting to sit back and observe until further research is done to confirm bandwagon status.