This just in: Chatbots
Chatbots pose a completely different way to interact with apps and services. They have evolved to be much more than an alternative to customer hotlines. They can become a highly effective way to offer another channel to access your app or service and thereby attract more users or retain existing ones.
By means of e.g. implementing a character as a protagonist to interact with your users and support your branding efforts or by sending occasional push messages (which won't annoy your users as much as actual push messages) you can connect more frequently with your audience through your bot. Plus add value for the user, too.
We leave it to you to judge if a bot is a suitable tool for your service. Chatbots will arguably become much more common, varying in use throughout different customer segments and industries. But they are here to stay.
Building a really sophisticated chatbot involves a lot of work and skill. If you're not planning to have your bot score really high on the Turing test however, there are numerous ways to create one to help you add value to your service within no time.
We'd like to introduce to you some tools and frameworks to make your life easy – given you're not planning to hit the Facebook SDK right away.
Chatfuel is a third-party service that lets you build basic bots within minutes – for free. On top, Chatfuel saves certain user info for you, which includes pre-settings for each user.
Botkit & BootBot
Botkit and BootBot are chatbot packages for NodeJS and have been designed especially for Facebook Chatbots. You can customize every aspect of the bot's components relatively easy. A very nice feature are the so-called sessions within which the components of the conversations are interpreted separately from a forerun conversation.
Unfortunately there's currently no way to persist those conversations in a database and scale them accordingly. For the moment, these cool add-ons are not suitable for handling a large number of users and if you need a decentralized infrastructure.
Botpress, in its nature, is inspired by WordPress – especially when it comes to creating a fully functional chatbot backend within five minutes. You can host the backend yourself and extent it to your liking with a plug-in inspired architecture.
Technology-wise, Botpress is based on NodeJS. The plugins are applied as NodeJS-typical middleware. This plugin-middleware approach allow for flexibly scalable architectures with it not being unlikely that there are many plugins to emerge from the lively community. Already today, there are integrations for Facebook Messenger and Slack. This makes Botpress the go-to tool for the moment compared to Botkit und BootBot.
As you can create the code yourself, your can also customize any aspect of the messenger. What's also great: Conversation sessions are getting persisted in a database out of the box.
Go ahead and fool around with these tools for a bit and create a chatbot. In the worst case, your Facebook page can rank better due to instant replies to customer inquiries.
Have fun with your bots <3