Facebook To Unveil New Messenger Chatbot Capabilities at F8
Big changes have been coming recently to Facebook's Messenger platform, and more -- including chatbot support for customer service -- are expected to make headlines during the company's F8 developer conference in San Francisco next week.
Facebook reportedly plans to unveil new Messenger chatbot tools for developers and business users during F8, according to a report yesterday in TechCrunch.
While the mobile messaging app for individual users has been around since 2011, Messenger's Business platform was just announced last year during the 2015 F8 conference. The platform now has some two dozen business partners, including KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, which late last month became the first air carrier to use Messenger Business for customer service.
Businesses See 1 Billion Monthly Messages
Messenger now has more than 900 million monthly active users, and sees more than one billion messages exchanged every month between individuals and businesses or pages using Messenger, vice president of messaging products David Marcus said yesterday in a Facebook post.
In a separate post yesterday, CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg (pictured above) added that his company was now introducing a new feature called Messenger Codes. A circular pattern surrounding every Messenger user's profile photo, Messenger Codes can be quickly scanned by other users to launch phone or chat conversations without having to worry about misspelled names or mistyped phone numbers, Zuckerberg said.
Facebook clearly sees even greater potential for customer service using Messenger, and plans to announce new APIs and Web plug-ins for live chat during next week's F8 conference, TechCrunch reported yesterday, citing information in a Facebook presentation shown to the publication by "developers we've spoken to."
In its report, TechCrunch described how new capabilities will enable Messenger chatbots to communicate with users through "Structured Messages" that could provide not only textual information, but images, links and calls to action in response to customer inquiries.
Messenger 'Reinventing Online Communication'
The agenda for this year's F8 conference, set for next Tuesday and Wednesday, includes two sessions about Messenger: "Connecting People and Businesses" and "The Future of Communications." The first will focus on how businesses can better communicate with their customers using the platform, while the second looks at "how Messenger is reinventing online communication and self-expression."
In a January 7 newsroom post about coming trends for Messenger, Marcus said one key development he saw for the platform in 2016 was a "paradigm shift in how people engage." Rather than interacting with businesses across multiple apps, customers increasingly view conversation threads as "the new apps" for ordering rides, buying airline tickets, talking to customer service and other needs, he said.
"It is so much easier to do everything in one place that has the context of your last interactions, as well as your identity -- no need to ever login -- rather than downloading apps that you'll never use again and jumping around from one app to another," Marcus noted. "Our early tests in 2015 with brands are showing that interactions will happen more and more in your Messenger threads, so we'll continue making it easy for you to engage with businesses, and we'll also do more to enable additional businesses and services to build the right experience in conversations."
Image Credit: Facebook.