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30/06/2016 | Webreality

Facebook Messenger Chatbots

Our post of March 11th 2016, Adverts are coming to Instant Messages, looked at a whole host of messenger app features and their commercial possibilities.

One we thought had the most potential was the development of Facebook Messenger services, with businesses offering to provide after-sales care - such as delivery updates - to customers via the Messenger app. Informal and immediate, it would usefully collate all of a customer's comminications with a brand in one location.

We wrote:

Using Messenger to receive order confirmations and shipping status updates, as well as asking the business free-form questions about the order, will mean quicker responses from the company.
It also places information about your exciting new purchase in a dedicated channel with a distinctly social feel, away from the more formal format of your email inbox. And, of course, it opens a dialogue where you’ll receive tailored product updates and ads, too.

Taking customer interaction via Messenger a stage further, hot off the press is news that travel search site Kayak has launched what they're calling "a travel agent inside your pocket."

An article on Condé Nast Traveler explains how this new tool lets customers find flights and hotels using informal, conversational enquiries instead of laboriously plugging in dates and scanning hundreds of results.

You can simply ask the chatbot “Can you suggest a hotel in London for the weekend of August 26th?” or type, “I'd like a flight from Paris to London on August 26th, in the morning." Kayak still finds thousands of results, but it only shows Messenger users a small selection, using its software to determine the best choices.

Kayak -chatbot -cr -courtesy

A screenshot of the Facebook Messenger-Kayak chatbot, courtesy of Kayak

Matthias Keller, the company’s chief scientist, says the idea is “to put a travel agent inside your pocket.” 

A major advantage of using Messenger rather than the Kayak website is that your entire search history and itinerary are instantly accessible in your conversation with the bot.

“I was just traveling over the Atlantic,” Keller says. “We had a beta version working, and I found it super useful to know what was coming next. Being on a layover, I could see how much time is left, figure out ‘Should I walk to the gate?’. This tool brings itinerary management to more users—everyone who uses Facebook Messenger.”

With Kayak joining KLM (their customers can check in and get customer service via the app) and Skyscanner in using Facebook Messenger chatbots, this seems like a great use of the app we'll be seeing much more of.

We think it sounds like good news for consumers, simplifying and collating dialogue with brands and businesses - from initial enquiries through purchase to after-sales service - into single, easy to manage channels.