As the year draws to a close and Christmas creeps closer, we reflect on one of this years most evident digital trends: Facebook Messenger bots. 2017 has seen more and more brands turn to these AI fuelled social robots to deal with their customer services. Some of this years most popular bots provide users with the ability book flights, track postal orders and even order pizza.
Customer service solutions are evolving and customers are expecting to have their questions answered quickly and efficiently via the likes of social direct message. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean Messenger bots are a sustainable part of the future for customer service.
Fun and forward thinking, these bots have definitely caused a stir, but are they what users really want? Animals GIFs and memes are fun for an evening (See Cleo Messenger bot), but when users need real help with important situations often involving big decisions and money (like booking a holiday, for example), I’m not sure a robot quite cuts it. Although Messenger bots can often provide seamless and fast resolutions to users queries and needs, they still lack authenticity, initiative and versatilely.
Once we strip Messenger bots back to their bare bones, for me, it seems we are left with the not too dissimilar ‘press 1 followed by #’ phone call robot we all despise. How many times have you dropped the F bomb in frustration at not getting through to a real person after the third 'sorry, I didn't quite catch that'? (I for one, do not have enough fingers to count).
I had a little play around with some of the most popular Messenger bots on Facebook, and well... I rest my case.
OK, Birmingham it is. I better get walking, it'll take me all year.
...looks like I'll just have to except my fate.
France, Mississippi? Same thing right?
So I'll just ask my friend instead.... like I should have done in the first place.
For me, when the novelty wears off and the GIFs run dry, Messenger bots are just another compromise for authentic human interaction and flexible customer service. It seems the futuristic customer service intervention on mass scale is still yet to come.
I think, like all trends, Messenger Bots may soon just get left behind, with people moving on and constantly expecting more.
However, if Messenger Bots are what is temporarily needed in this fast moving world of tech, to keep customers intrigued and perceiving a brand positively then so be it. Customer experience is incredibly important, and in many cases, the customer is empowered, in a position to demand standards and expectations. Anything engaging that grabs attention and gets people talking is vital to standing out and keeping up.
What’s your opinion on Messenger bots? Helpful and entertaining or inauthentic and just a trend? Let us know your thoughts below.