While much of the autonomous buzz right now revolves around vehicles, the ever-evolving world of technology will see many other sectors become automated in the future -- including simple things like customer service. The problem, of course, is that most businesses can't invest in advanced 'chatbots', either through purchasing a solution from another vendor or developing it themselves. That's where Facebook wants to help. The social media giant already offers a number of tools to businesses, but according to a leak, it will unveil chatbot and Live Chat solutions at its upcoming F8 developer conference.
When launched, these chatbots will run through Facebook Messenger, a piece of software that hasn't had the smoothest operational history. Just two years ago, Facebook forced all users to take advantage of Messenger for chat purposes, necessitating the need for two different apps for one single service. As we can now see, it was for a reason: outside of status updates and simple shares, Facebook wants to make its Messenger platform offer the richest chat experience out there.
What should set Facebook's chatbots apart are their smart responses. Each response will follow a certain structure, allowing a company to include a title, an image, a description, and a URL. One example given by TechCrunch of where this kind of interaction could be useful is with a restaurant reservation. Instead of waiting on hold for an operator to pick up, you could simply talk to a bot and set one up even quicker.
One way we will see chatbots used is with "Contact Us" buttons on webpages. Instead of forcing customers to use email or have to call, a dedicated button could bring them straight through to Facebook Messenger -- and considering that most people looking for customer service will be signed into Facebook already, this could prove very useful.
At the moment, Facebook isn't charging developers for this technology, but that could change down the road. Or, it could look to monetize the service another way.
We don't know exactly when this functionality will launch, but if it is indeed announced at the upcoming F8 conference, we''ll be hearing about it soon enough.