Everything You Need to Know About Facebook Messenger Chatbots

As more people get on Facebook and use it for everything from gathering information to conducting business, chatbots have become highly popular. Bots give you an opportunity to connect with potential customers instantly without spending a fortune on a 24/7 online staff. What was once a perk of large corporations is now available to even the smallest of businesses.

The statistics on Facebook Messenger chatbots are pretty impressive. About 20 billion messages are sent between businesses and consumers each month, and there are around 300,000 active Messenger bots on the platform. The ways companies use Messenger vary widely. You can learn what works best for your business by studying what others have already done. Look at how your competitors utilize bots for their own customer service needs.

If you already use Messenger with your customers or think you might like to, make sure you avoid the pitfalls. Since their interaction with you on Messenger may be the first experience they have of your brand, you want to make sure it is as customer-friendly as possible. 

How Chatbots Are Used

Combining Messenger and chatbots is a powerhouse for improving customer service. You can instantly engage customers instead of making them wait for an answer to a simple question. 

In one example, outdoor apparel retailer Stio used Quiq to handle text messaging and decreased phone calls by about 9%. This freed up agents to handle more inbound SMS messages. Another way the company used bots was to help people who wanted to be removed from its mailing list. Automating list removals alone saved agents about 80 hours of work. 

Businesses use and benefit from chatbots in dozens of ways. Some of the more popular methods include:

  • Requesting a service call. Someone calling for a service doesn’t necessarily need to speak to a live agent. They can place their order via the bot. Repeat orders require even less direct communication in most cases.
  • Answering simple questions. There are some questions customers tend to ask over and over again. You can program a bot to answer these for you.
  • Gathering basic information. When your audience first makes contact, you can utilize a bot to ask questions such as their name and contact info until a live agent connects and directly engages them. 
  • Touching base after an inquiry. Sending out a message thanking your customers for their orders is a nice finishing touch.

There are more ways to use chatbots than one might imagine. Think about the tasks you often repeat on Facebook and how you might automate them. 

Tips for Successfully Using Facebook Messenger Chatbots

Here are some ways to make the most out of using a chatbot for Messenger.

1. Increase Interaction

In one study, researchers found people are 3.5 times more likely to open a message sent via Facebook than an email. Utilizing Facebook as a communication platform means you can more easily move people further into your marketing funnel and increase the chance of converting them into a customer. 

You can also combine sponsored ads with Messenger. If the person has contacted you in the past, they are on your list and receive the ad. Resending something to those you previously communicated with is a great way of retargeting people. Consider it a built-in contact list. 

2. Sort Through Leads

If you serve more than one buyer type, utilize chatbots to sort leads into segments. Segmentation saves your agents time asking the same questions over and over again. Simply program the bot to classify people according to their answers. You can then let them know an agent assigned to their specific case will be in touch shortly.

Reach out again through Messenger with a live agent. However, make sure your representative has full access to past answers, no matter how the customer first contacted you. You don’t want users going over the same material with every interaction. There are few things more frustrating than answering the same questions over and over because a company isn’t multichannel friendly. 

3. Build a Custom Bot

One of the things that might hold you back from using chatbots is the idea of having to build one from scratch. While you do want a bot that meets the specific needs of your business, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Many services that integrate nicely with Facebook messenger can be customized. You’ll find a list of ones that offer drag-and-drop builders below.

4. Conduct Thorough Tests

While most people are willing to engage with a business bot, they aren’t so happy if it doesn’t work correctly. Make sure you test your chatbot by running through typical questions and seeing how the machine responds. Do the responses make sense? Is the interaction fluid and instantaneous? Where might you improve responses or functionality?

5. Offer Logistics Updates

Another way of using Messenger is to update customers about where their order is in the process. From the moment the product is ordered, you can push notifications showing where their item is. By integrating with the delivery service of your choice, you can utilize tracking codes to keep the customer informed each step of the way until the item lands on their doorstep.

6. Push Offers and Coupons

When customers sign up for communication, you can also utilize Facebook Messenger to send out special offers and coupons. You might push a notice out that provides them 15% off, for example. Utilize artificial intelligence (AI) and preprogram the offers to go out on a set schedule. You can even program in automated responses if the customer has a question about the sale. 

7. Don’t Hide That It’s a Bot

People don’t despise chatbots. They do dislike companies trying to pretend a computer is a real person. Be upfront that your bot is the one responding and is programmed to answer basic questions or complete certain tasks. Keep communication open and show that you’re more than willing to engage via a real representative if needed. Consumers need to know they can trust you.

8. Study Natural Language Patterns

People have a specific way of speaking and asking questions. Study the types of queries users posed in the past and in what order they word things. Your chatbot is only as good as the programming you give it. If your questions are on target with what people typically ask, then your answers will make sense to the lead. Computers get smarter every year, and machines now understand natural language processing (NLP) better than ever before. Give the bot the tools needed to answer in an intelligent way, and it will. 

9. Make Sure Your Audience Is on Facebook

There are more than 1 billion active users on Facebook. More than likely, your audience is on the platform, but that isn’t the case for every business type. Pay attention to where your customers interact the most. 

While Messenger is an excellent solution if your customers wish to use it, it can also take a lot of time, effort and money that you might spend elsewhere if your customers prefer another means of communication. A lot will depend on your target audience. Baby boomers are more likely to use a telephone, for example, while millennials may prefer Instagram.

10. Offer Choices

If you feel unsure of how to program the bot to answer queries customers input, you can always create button questions with multiple choice answers. This guides the user to a series of specific solutions. Utilizing images and buttons can also funnel people toward the conclusion you’d like them to reach, helping with conversions. 

Businesses Using Messenger Bots Effectively

There are many businesses on Facebook using Messenger to conduct business effectively. Here are just a few examples, but you’ve likely encountered some in your own interactions.

  • Lyft: The ride-sharing service allows users to request a ride via Facebook Messenger. In response, the bot orders a car and sends you an update on the location of your driver, license plate and vehicle model. Details ensure you get in the right vehicle and thus keeps you safe. The bot will also message you when your driver arrives. You do need to download the Lyft app first as it integrates with Messenger.
  • 1-800-Flowers: You can order flowers via Facebook Messenger instead of phoning the toll-free number. You can add the company by using a Messenger scan code or searching for them. Add it to your contacts and follow the “Get Started” commands. After that, you simply select flowers, input a delivery address, choose from some popular options, add a message and pay for the flowers. The entire process completes via Messenger with a chatbot. 
  • Staples: Remember those common questions businesses get asked over and over again? Staples utilizes a chatbot to answer them and save agents’ time while giving customers an instant response. It uses an Easy System that combines with IBM’s Watson. Most concerns are about tracking orders, returns and which items are currently in stock, so the bot can answer them easily. For questions out of the normal range, it may bring in a live agent. 
  • Pizza Hut: Do you find yourself ordering the same thing repeatedly? Pizza Hut lets you quickly get your favorites directly from Messenger. You’ll interact with a bot and pick up your pizza, minimizing interaction and saving you time. The bot also answers queries about current deals or specials based on your area. 

Drag-and Drop-Chatbot Services

You’re probably wondering how in the world you’ll program a system that handles all these features. You can, of course, create your own chatbot — but you’d need to know some basic coding. Fortunately, there is a much easier way with drag-and-drop services such as ManyChat, Chatfuel and Dialogflow. Each program has different benefits, so here is a breakdown.

  • ManyChat: Start with a template that focuses on your type of business or your goal for the bot. Use a drag-and-drop interface to add the features you want. Not only does the bot integrate with Messenger, but you can also use it with Mailchimp, Zapier and even Google Sheets. 
  • Chatfuel: This program has far fewer features than ManyChat, but it’s also much easier to learn to use. It specifically works with Messenger. Companies such as LEGO utilize Chatfuel to get a 71% reduction in cost per conversion. 
  • Dialogflow: Powered by Google’s AI, Dialogflow also allows you to connect on Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. If you’re looking for something that integrates with modern machine learning, this program offers that capability. The idea is that conversations with the bot will seem more natural. 
  • Microsoft Bot Framework: If you’re looking for a system that has a powerful NLP capability, Microsoft Bot Framework is probably your best option. Your bot can reason through questions and match them to answers. The program connects with a variety of platforms and turns into a virtual assistant that’s always ready. 

These are the most popular chatbot services, and the average person with only a small bit of technical knowledge should be able to create a Facebook bot using these platforms. Several other companies also offer chatbot services that integrate with Messenger. 

If none of the ones above work, look at a second or third option. If you need something outside the scope of what these programs are capable of, you can always hire a coder to create a custom bot that meets your specific needs. 

Get Your Chat On

Now that you know the reasons to integrate Messenger with a chatbot and some of the tools available to accomplish it, what are you waiting for? Your customers will appreciate the ability to communicate online without having to phone in or wait for an email response. Chatbots save you time on repetitive tasks and give your customers instant access to your brand.  Even though not all companies are utilizing Facebook bots at this time, they are trending upward. They are something consumers appreciate and may come to expect from the companies they do business with.

Kayla Matthews is a technology journalist and writer, as well as an avid WordPress blogger. You can check out her personal tech blog at ProductivityBytes.com

One thought on “Everything You Need to Know About Facebook Messenger Chatbots

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