Facebook’s New Messenger Feature Helps Brands Build Better Service Chatbots

At its annual F8 developer conference this week, Facebook announced some key updates to Messenger, which it has increasingly positioned as a tool for companies to connect with consumers, primarily for customer service. According to Facebook, businesses send and receive 8 billion messages through Messenger every month, and branded bots, introduced back in 2016, play a major part in facilitating that volume of messages.

“To date, there are over 300,000 active bots on Messenger, and over 8 billion messages are exchanged between people and businesses each month; that’s 4x the amount of messages exchanged since just last year,” David Marcus, vice president of Messenger, wrote in a blog post.

Now brands are getting a tool to help them build smarter, better bots that are more targeted for what specific customers need. The new functionality enables chatbot developers to parse through questions that they receive from consumers through their corporate Facebook inbox and identify some of the most commonly asked questions. Laurent Landowski, a Facebook Messenger product manager, explained that the patterns and insight that emerge from this analysis can then be used to develop more effective chatbots that are prepared to tackle the likeliest questions.

“If you try to guess what a customer asks, then you will end up building a bot that doesn’t answer the question,” Landowski told Fortune.

In addition to this feature to improve bot development, Facebook has also started to roll out AR capabilities for Messenger, which will enable brands to incorporate augmented reality components into their conversations with consumers. Only a select number of brands, including Kia, Nike, and Sephora, have been given access to this new tool, but other businesses are encouraged to apply to test it as well.

Rounding out the series of announcements from F8, Facebook also announced that it was now offering a translation service for Marketplace, where users buy and sell goods, so that users speaking different languages could communicate. 

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