- About 11,000 chatbots have been created on Facebook Messenger by retailers and other businesses aiming to use the platform for customer service and sales efforts according to Facebook, which this week also announced additional tools for its chatbot program.
- About 23,000 developers have signed up to use Wit.ai’s bot engine to automate Facebook Messenger conversations between users and businesses.
- Facebook has not disclosed how many consumers have used the chatbots for customer service or purchasing purposes.
It's been about three months since Facebook bought into chatbots in a big way by opening its Messenger platform for retailers and other businesses to use as a chatbot playground. Now the social media giant is rolling out more tools to help companies running chatbots on Facebook Messenger to create more interactive conversations with users.
The new features include Quick Replies, which enables retailers to offer as many as 10 dynamic response buttons that directly align with the most recent message the business sent, making it easier to automate shopper interactions. Also new: A persistent menu, more content types (e.g., GIFs, audio and video) and a star-based ratings system.
The new additions should be beneficial to any retailers and e-commerce players that have jumped into Facebook's chatbot pool, such as Modiface, which now uses a chatbot program combined with facial recognition and simulation technologies to help social networkers try on lipstick, hopefully with an eye toward purchasing it.
Facebook's own blog post on the status of its chatbot program didn't offer much detail about what's happening on the user end of all this—how many people are using the chatbots, for example, and how many people are buying. The retailers that are aggressively experiementing with chatbots definitely deserve some credit, but until we start hearing more about how customers are using the chatbots, how long the conversations are, how they are leading to improved customer services experiences, or better yet, how they are evolving into a new revenue channel, the retail industry at large might want to maintain a wait-and-see posture. Is there an emoji for that?