Customer Chat plugin
Recently, Facebook announced a very important development news for chatbots in the new version 2.2 of its Messenger Platform: a native plugin that will allow to embed a chatbot view into any web page, and from there continue the conversation on messenger. While previous versions allowed to share the same channel with a bot or human (it was already possible to talk with a bot and then swap to a human agent), the new feature is created to support mainly two new case usages:
- Use the interface and chatbot UX from messenger on webpages (outside of messenger) and then go back to the other (mainly web > messenger) thanks to a new sync feature.
- Simplify the workflow for customer services by introducing a Customer Chat: companies can have on their main webpage a fully automated bot which will then be attended by a real human operator which can continue interacting on the web or messenger.
Bots can now be programmed to perform several jobs, from appointments to check order status, answer common questions and more. Also there is a new built-in NLP engine with support for 10 languages (including Dutch, French, German and Polish – which means we could easily cover our usual clients). Custom NLP is also possible via wit.ai.
Besides the Customer Chat, there are also three new possibilities now:
- Broadcast API: gives businesses like news outlets the ability to send one-to-many messages to all or a subset of customers currently engaged on a conversation.
- Sponsored messages: basically, businesses will be able to send ads as part of the conversation. It’s not clear the implications (it seems that these sponsored messages won’t follow the general Facebook advertisement rules – they will look exactly like any other message from the bot). Interesting but should be taken carefully as this might change.
- Handover protocol: while it was possible before to share the flow between bot and human (for example: the bot parsed all the text and whenever a token was triggered, the bot part would stop processing and answering the questions, allowing for a human agent to respond normally on the site’s messenger account, seeing the entire conversation – we did this already way back in July for our Tapptic Events Bot), now there is a fully fledged protocol that allows two or more apps to share the same conversation flow, making this specially easy to switch the context between bots and human agents.
Regarding payments: all the current solutions seem to be integrated into the Customer Chat plugin (which means it should be possible to pay via bot embedded on your webpage), but it’s not confirmed officially whether this applies to P2P payment too.
With these features, Facebook’s announcement (just one day after Salesforce announced a new platform for bots) clearly tries to engage companies to use their bot platform and reduce the friction: the tools are now available not only inside messenger, but also for the web and can then be changeable from one environment to the other.
However, it should be researched how advanced and well prepared this is, as well as payment options. Overall it seems a very strong approach for companies and customer support.