Welcome to the future: automating customer service and engagement with Facebook chatbots

If you aren’t taking advantage of Facebook Messenger chatbots, you’re missing a golden opportunity to streamline customer service and engage with consumers in a whole new way.

Here are the facts:

  • Usage has grown significantly since chatbots were introduced in 2016. There are more than 100,000 bots on Facebook Messenger, and 15% of the 1.2 billion monthly Messenger users chat with them. That’s 180,000,000 people.
  • Chatbots are popular across a wide range of ages. Baby boomers and millennials share the same views on the benefits of chatbots. Their favorite perk? The availability of 24-hour customer service.
  • Automated customer-business relationships will soon be the norm. Researchers estimate that by 2020, 85% of interactions between brands and their base will be artificial intelligence (AI) to human. Not human to human.

As a business owner, you know it’s essential to stay ahead of the technological curve. Here’s how to get started.

The basics: what chatbots are and how they’re developed

Facebook Messenger bots are basically apps that utilize AI software. They learn as they’re used and can be designed to do everything from answer basic questions to provide detailed solutions and immersive entertainment.

And guess what? It’s not that hard to build a basic chatbot. In fact, you can do so in as little as 10 minutes with building platforms like ManyChat or chatfuel.

Check out this tutorial on ManyChat:

And this one on chatfuel:

Of course, there are dozens of other platforms out there. And, you don’t actually need to use a platform at all. If you already have a basic understanding of coding—or you’re willing to learn as you go—you can build a custom bot on your own. For more details, check out Facebook’s quick start guide.

If you need something more elaborate than building platforms allow for or you’re capable of designing on your own, you can also hire a designer. Although this typically comes with a hefty price tag upfront, a well-thought-out bot pays for itself quickly.

The details: benefits and design ideas

Facebook bots provide conversational, human-like interactions that make your brand more personable. And, depending on how they’re coded, bots can do loads of different things.

For small businesses, creating bots to aid in customer service, ordering and content marketing are some of the most popular options. But, you can also create a bot to tell users the weather, engross them in an interactive game or help them find information on things like product reviews or sales.


Achieve a 50% or higher open rate and a 15 to 60% click-through rate. Remember: The average email has an approximate open rate of 24% and click-through rate of 4%. Use a chatbot to send out RSS chat blasts for newsletters and blog posts.

Give you access to more consumer data. Chatbots automatically store data so the AI continues to learn, and you can use that data to get more info on your base.

Save money. Even if you opt to spend a few thousand dollars to have an advanced chatbot built, it still reduces the number of employees you need and the amount of time you spend taking care of customers.

Improve brand exposure and customer satisfaction. People like to be entertained and get immediate solutions. Chatbots provide both.

Practical ideas

Use bots to modernize customer service and content marketing.

Ordering. Create a bot that allows people to order products or schedule services directly in Facebook Messenger. This is super popular for retailers, including Dominos, 1-800-FLOWERS and Burberry.

1800flowers order bot

Customer service. From sending out tracking numbers to answering basic service questions, bots save you hours every day. Which is why huge retailers like Staples, Lowes and Mastercard use them to enhance their customer service efforts.

Content marketing. Give customers the content they want the second they ask for it. Sephora’s bot finds makeup tutorials for users and Whole Food’s helps people figure out what to make for dinner (and find new recipes). And content sites, like TechCrunch, use bots to keep fans informed.

tech crunch screenshot

Entertaining concepts

Increase exposure and engagement with creative entertainment bots.

Get friendly. Mattress company Casper created the text-based Insomnobot-3000 so users have someone to talk to when they’re wide-awake at 2 a.m.

Promote launches. Entertainment companies create limited-edition bots so people can talk with their favorite fictional characters. Disney’s 2016 chatbot featuring Zootopia was particularly successful. And recently, Marvel gave fans a chance to talk to Spider-Man to promote Secret Empire.

Address pain points. Unilever’s Little Brush, Big Brush chatbot pushes a notice when it’s time for kids to brush their teeth. Then, it uses a storytelling game so kids can earn badges after brushing for two minutes. And it’s all tied to their toothpaste brand, Signal. Check out episode one from the bot:

Best practices: tips for success

The best bots have a targeted end goal and mix practicality with creativity.

Start with a strategy. What do your customers need and/or want? Where in the customer journey will the bot fit in? Or, will you need more than one bot?

Perfect the script. Your brand should have a voice, and the bot needs to reflect that voice. Think of how your brand would respond to a customer looking for help versus a customer looking for fun and write the content accordingly. Consider every possible question customers might ask the bot—and how they’ll ask them—when writing the script. Design the bot so it mimics how people naturally talk to each other. Avoid super-long sentences and SAT words, but make the bot sound equal parts friendly, smart and helpful. Quick tip: Act out the conversations with real people to get a better feel for how your bot will come across to users.

Always tell customers they’re talking to a bot. Even the best-designed bots won’t fool the average consumer. If you tell them upfront, they’ll enjoy the instant gratification; if you try to trick them, trust goes out the window.

Give your bot a unique name. Users love chatbots, but they don’t want to talk to a nameless app. Plus, a unique name makes it easy for people to search for (and remember) your bot.

Offer loads of options. Incorporating browsing menus lets users skip directly to the content they’re most interested in and see what’s available via the bot. And, include a way to contact a live person (especially with a customer service bot). The more options you have, the more people you’ll hook.

Update as you go. Every so often, take a look at the questions your bot failed to answer. If you notice any trends, update the script so the bot can handle the issue in the future.

Chatbot technology is the future of customer interactions, and now’s the time to jump in. Start with a basic bot, test it ruthlessly and pay close attention to how other brands are utilizing the technology. It’s only going to get more intelligent, and more prominent, as time goes on.

Biz.me is not affiliated with any brand mentioned or linked to in this post.


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