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Facebook Messenger just made itself a whole lot more attractive for brands

clock-iconJuly 27, 2017

Facebook is making it easier for brands and businesses to engage with consumers and ultimately drive results on Facebook Messenger.

The company today unveiled a number of tools and updates to its Messenger platform, including built-in natural language processing (NLP) that automatically detects the context of a message before passing it along to a bot. It has also introduced a new handover protocol that enables businesses to create multiple experiences within a single bot and new call-to-action buttons apart from the Send Message button currently available, among other updates.

The current set of updates come on the heels of Facebook rectifying some of the early mistakes it made on Messenger, specifically with regard to chatbots. The platform has been attempting to revive chatbots with a slew of updates to Messenger. The first series of these updates were announced at its developer conference back in April. It also recently let brands start showing their ads on Messenger.

The built-in NLP enables brands to scale as well as make their experiences more seamless on Messenger, as it instantly detects meaning and information in messages that users send. These include prompts such as hello, bye, thanks, date and time, location, amount of money, phone number and email. In other words, if a user's message contains any of these prompts, the bot will automatically pick up on it and help the user surpass some initial steps.

"The built-in NLP will be hugely helpful in prompting user adoption," said Pam Scheideler, partner and chief digital officer at agency Deutsch. "The more they can demonstrate that bots are contextually aware, the more it is going to move AI forward."

"The new norm for online shopping won't necessarily be a destination site in the traditional commerce sense. Instead, it will be contextual and situational," said RJ Pittman, SVPÂ and chief product officer at eBay. "In order to stay relevant, brands will need to evolve their experiences and rules of customer engagement."

The updates also let brands improve upon their customer care offerings on Messenger. With the new handover protocol, businesses can easily move customers from automated bots to one-to-one conversations with human agents on Facebook Messenger, allowing customers to obtain quick answers to common questions through automation, and then receive more personalized customer support from live agents.

Sephora, for instance, will soon be implementing this handover protocol. The beauty retailer will use business messaging platform Assist to evaluate which customer messages from Sephora can be addressed by a bot. If a bot can't respond, the message will be passed along to a live agent using Sprinklr's customer service platform. Until now, bots and human agents have typically been disconnected, leading to a disjointed and overall unhelpful customer experience.

"At Sephora, everything we do is driven by delivering a seamless and smarter client experience," said Mary Beth Laughton, Sephora's SVP of digital. "This new handover feature enables us to have more dynamic and rich client service moments, in one platform, ultimately making Sephora an even better place to shop, play and learn."

Facebook is also rolling out five new buttons that brands can add to their Facebook pages, to drive people to their Messenger bots. In addition to the currently available "Send Message" button, businesses can now also add either the "Shop Now," "Get Support", "Get Updates," "Play Now" or the "Get Started" buttons. These descriptive buttons let people know what to expect when they start a conversation with a business. Hyatt, for example, recently added the "Get Started" call-to-action button to its Facebook page.

"We love to see Messenger rolling out new features like these that support a social guest experience that keeps getting better and better," a Hyatt spokesperson told Business Insider. "It is just one way we can make sure our guests know our team of social care superstars are available to them around the clock."

"Facebook Messenger is helping create a seamless experience for shoppers who want to quickly 'Shop Now,'" added eBay's Pittman. "The new button will help drive users from our Facebook page to an engaging experience with our eBay ShopBot. Â We see this as another opportunity to meet users where they are without having to leave Facebook."

Additionally, Messenger is making payments easier to set up, and more seamless for people to checkout. Facebook has made the Messenger webview payment process easier and more efficient for people. Now, customers can pay using a one step process through Messenger webview. Payments on Messenger is still in beta and available in the US only.

So, what if we’d stop chatting, and started coding?

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