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As a CMO it is important to stay one step ahead of the competition. AI chatbots have been popping up in the most unlikely of places, from pizza ordering to customer service inquiries. In 2015 alone, nearly 1.5 billion people interacted with a chatbot, according to eMarketer.
The most innovative have been using Facebook Messenger to interact with customers who have questions about business hours or product availability. There are limitations and problems, of course, but chatbots have been widely adopted.
Making a Facebook chatbot has been a task for IT but now a bot has been developed called Thezboy that uses Facebook comments and posts to communicate with end users and businesses. Consumers don’t need to leave Facebook on their mobile device to speak to businesses, and businesses have an integrated platform that leaves out Messenger altogether.
Saaqeb Nayeem, Founder and CEO of ZARSS Solutions Limited, created Thezboy, an integrated bot system. After 15 years of working in the information technology arena, Nayeem is a big data analyst and payment systems expert. Recently, I spoke to him regarding Thezboy, and what he predicts is next in bot development.
Steve Olenski: How did you get started in the chatbot business?
Saaqeb Nayeem: In 2003 I started in programming as a freelancer, got jobs in several software companies, and assisted various businesses from junior to management level. In 2009, I formed a payment gateway company and later was the head of the largest payment gateway company in Bangladesh until July 2016. Now I’m researching local economic development and working on several innovative projects, Thezboy being one of them.
As a part of my research, I’ve been working on rural e-commerce, but the difficulties I encountered were mainly communication as well as online propagation. I was optimistic about social commerce, which can simplify the propagation issue, but communication and after-sales support are still critical issues. So, I introduced a chatbot that not only works on Messenger, but is also able respond on Facebook comments.
Olenski: So, Thezboy integrates with Facebook comments. What has Thezboy created, specifically, in regards to bots in Facebook comments?
Nayeem: Bots have required perfect integration with platforms, and the Facebook Messenger platform has become very easy to manage. But people are not using Messenger, and in fact the maximum end-user only reads Facebook posts and comments.
So, what we’ve done at Thezboy is build a bot that integrates with Facebook’s comments and post management system. That way, the bot owner doesn’t need to enter into the bot system every time; it will be as easy as posting on a Facebook wall.
The end-user or customer can also place their order through Facebook comments and Messenger, and our system sends the order data to the bot owner in real-time.
We’re also integrating an auto print engine with a wireless printer which will help businesses to receive an instant print copy of an order or information.
Thezboy is also integrable with logistics services API and payment systems API to ensure easier payment and delivery processes. We are improving our logistics partner and payment system partner very quickly.
Olenski: What has been your main focus at Thezboy?
Nayeem: We’re really updating the roadmap based on the end-user’s comfort. Time is money, so we’ve made our system in that way: to focus on a simple communication channel to save time and effort for both customers and businesses. We want to automate the whole business process in real-time and introduce an outstanding customer experience.
My tagline is: “Ideas that generate profit.” In a global world, bots are more popular than mobile apps. People are not interested in downloading and using huge quantities of mobile apps, excluding those essential apps like Gmail, Messenger, Facebook, WhatsApp, Uber etc. Consumers prefer to visit the website or Facebook business page of a company. Our plan is an idea that can solve the communication problem, but keep the benefit of social platform sales.
Olenski: What do you think is next in chatbots?
Nayeem: The entire world is busy with messaging, from general users to businesspeople — Flurry Analytics results show that time spent on social media and messaging increased a staggering 400% last year. Businesses are realizing that they need to communicate with users where they already are, and that chat messaging platforms provide a superior experience to spammy email, limited text messaging, or phone calls which require undivided attention.
Whether you are a CMO trying to acquire a user base or increase conversion, or a VP of customer experience looking to improve customer care, you will reach and be reached by your customers on messaging apps.
This consumer shift is happening faster than the mobile disruption, because users are already equipped in hardware, and they are already spending time in messaging apps.
Messaging experiences run on top of the mobile operating system layer, and messaging apps are already much more standardized than the various mobile devices could ever be. And in places like China, there are 800 million monthly active users of WeChat who are on the app for an average of 40 minutes a day.
Using mobile apps also means double the investment on ads. To reach your target audience through a mobile app, you need to build the app for multiple operating systems and get it through the app stores, then help your audience find it, download it, sign into it, and enable its notifications. This takes a lot of time; it’s a long term process. Plus, we all know how intense the competition is for apps: the average user spends most of their time on just a few apps. On the other hand, distributing your messaging experience is as simple as getting users to add your bot as a contact, which you can promote via a web plugin, an ad, or your custom m.me link or QR code.
Chatbots are the next generation for any service or product. In the future, people are rarely going to visit websites. Instead they’ll check social media platform reviews and ratings before buying something, where they will also receive quick replies on comments or messages based on their pre-purchase questions.
This article originally appeared on Forbes.