Imagine that you could ask a question to any company you’re a client of, anytime right in Facebook messenger. For the active users of Facebook Messenger, the number of whom is rapidly growing each day and as of today is 900 million, this would be a super option, don’t you agree?
Facebook Messenger breaking into businesses
Facebook decided to help companies to simplify interaction with clients by letting them create their own chat-bots for Facebook Messenger. “I’ve never met anyone who likes calling a business, and no one wants to have to install a new app for every service or business that they want to interact with,” Mark Zuckerberg said. So, Facebook Messenger is here to help people reduce the effort they’ve got to put to contact the company.
Now if a company receives messages from users, it can transform them into commands and send responses to customers automatically generated by a chat-bot or typed by an employee. This channel of communication is easier, faster and broader than a mobile app, where in order to get an answer, a customer needs to look through all sorts of links, upload new pages and wait for confirmation.
Chat-bots in the banking sector
A possibility of building chat-bots for Facebook Messenger can seriously influence the bank sector as the majority of banking services could be transformed into client’s commands, and those would be automated. An operation could be simply described as, for instance, ‘Pay the Internet’.
Nowadays, to transfer money to somebody, you need to do the following:
- Open your bank’s mobile app
- Wait for authentication
- Go to ‘Make a transfer’ section
- Enter the amount and requisites
- Confirm operation
- Get confirmation
At the same time, you have to wait for a few seconds for a new page to start or for the client to find the necessary section.
It is much easier and faster in Facebook Messenger. Type in ‘Transfer 1,000 rubles to John Smith’ in your bank’s chat room. From the list of payments, the bank will understand who John Smith is (if not it will ask for specific info) and from which account to make a transfer (or again to ask for specific info). It is expected that in the nearest future technologies will be guaranteed to cause a specific action in response to a message request.
There is no need to develop a mobile app for a command support in a new Messenger (for example, ‘What is my balance?’). A bank will only need to write a code which will convert messages to a certain set of actions. It is much easier to convert messages to requests with the help of such instruments as Facebook’s Artificial Intelligence and Microsoft Bot Platform.
Chat-bots can be used as an instrument for notifying customers: a customer signs up for a news bot and receives shortened offers and news daily. Banks might send such notifications as daily reports on account status, low balance, etc.
A messenger search engine is completely different from a browser search engine. It is much easier to type in a question in Facebook Messenger rather than open a browser or a bank’s mobile app. Besides, a user will always have access to the request history and will be able to find any information by simply scrolling up.
Banks may also be engaged in improving the financial literacy of their clients on a chosen topic. A client marks their sphere of interests, and receives useful info and news in a chat room. The request history can be used for the personalization and optimization of the content both with the information and offers of products and services. For instance, if a client asks a question about the rate on the mortgage, the bank can send them advice on purchasing an apartment and information on how to apply for a mortgage loan.
Chat-bots. The advantages are evident
Imagine how much easier it is to ask your questions to a support specialist right in Facebook Messenger anytime you want without worrying about how to solve your problem – just send a message, come back to it later when you have time, and the answer will be there. No more complicated tone menus and long waits on the phone, long searches on the website or additional trips to your bank branch! We, the customers, simply type in our questions/suggestions in a chat room, and the bank does the rest for us.
The bank, in return, gets a tool to better understand its customers, to ‘sharpen’ its products and services based on real needs, and to increase customer loyalty. It is much easier to understand a customer’s behavior by reading the history of their requests rather than analyzing their clicks and web activity. Costs will be reduced: both the mobile applications and site development costs, and call-center maintenance costs. The customer simply sends a message to Facebook: ‘I lost my credit card. Please block it.’
Chat-bots. Problems… can be fixed!
Unfortunately, this pretty picture of banking is unlikely to become a reality in the nearest future while a number of unresolved problems remain. Take authentication, for example. So far, Facebook Messenger V.1 platform doesn’t offer an integrable solution for user authentication and synchronization of the information about them with CRM-system.
Facebook will most likely eliminate this restriction in the nearest future. Either by letting developers authenticate inside chat-bots, or by adapting existing business Facebook Connect technology under the ‘authentication’ needs. The last option is definitely more profitable for Facebook. However, many companies, especially banks, won’t be able to confidently use Facebook Connect as a solution to the problem of authentication because of the threat of fraud.
If Facebook opens a platform for its messenger for side developers to create their own procedure of authentication, the solution could be the context data (e.g. typing speed and pattern) or biometrical authentication (e.g. Touch ID). Either way a link between an account on Facebook and a client’s profile in the company will be provided. The ability to set your own authentication procedure within the Facebook Messenger will certainly be more preferable for private organizations such as banks because, in that case, they won’t need to install Facebook Connect into their online banking system.
Users mistakes are another issue. Typos can lead to unpleasant situations. Imagine someone entering an additional digit, or leaving one out, in a transfer amount. Of course, such cases can be prevented. For example, add bank request to confirm the amount. Banks will also need time to optimize Facebook Messenger’s interface for their scenarios.
Due to Facebook Messenger’s popularity and convenience, chat-bots may become one of the most breakthrough technologies of the future. Despite all the issues, Bank of America has already announced its plans to launch customer service in Facebook Messenger. The problem of user authentication limits the possibility of using the messenger in the banking sector but it has no effect on the educational and search functions of banking chat-bots.