Facebook Using Chatbot to Build New Currency
When you hear the term “chatbot,” you probably think of the emergence of conversational automation as it relates to advertising or customer service. You may think of a negative time you couldn’t get ahold of a customer service banking agent after your wallet was stolen because they insisted you use their (voice or chat) bots. Maybe you had more positive experiences, receiving recommendations on a gift that saved Mother’s Day, or last minute, easily accessible trip-planning to get away from the in-laws. For many skeptical digital advocates, they associate chatbots with bothersome social media marketing and customer service strategies, like LinkedIn recruiting pitches and faulty Facebook messenger services.
Facebook's Previous Failure
In 2015, Facebook launched a personal assistant as a feature of Messenger called M, to which “unlike other AI-based services in the market, M can complete tasks on your behalf. It can purchase items, get gifts delivered to your loved ones, book restaurants, travel arrangements, appointments and way more.” However, the technology didn’t function as promised and the application proved unprofitable over time.
As many companies (from enterprises like Facebook to one-man digital marketing start-ups) are a little too quick to jump on the chatbot trains (with only 9% of consumers trusting them, according to CCW Digital’s recent special report), Facebook is using chat in a new attempt to replace customer service.
The world’s largest social media platform prepares to launch a new cryptocurrency, Libra, in 2020. In one of the latest developments, it has acquired Servicefriend, a startup that builds chatbots for AI messaging apps to help customer service teams.
Right now, Facebook’s biggest concern is building its automated network of bots as the customer service layer of Libra’s digital wallet, Calibra. Facebook’s plan is to build a range of financial services for people to use Calibra to pay out and receive Libra (send money to contacts, pay bills, top up their phones, shop, and more).
Due to Facebook's history of overpromises, notorious data scandals and general sentiment about cryptocurrency, consumers are understandably skeptical about Libra. Despite the fact that a zombie apocalypse can take place and Facebook’s revenue wouldn’t be materially affected, they are going to have to do a little more to regain the trust of consumers when rolling out a new product… a currency operated by chatbots in a company that has a history of botching chatbots! Facebook can do this by incorporating accessible “human” customer service experiences into their chat based customer service model.
Personalization and Automation
While AI-based assistants such as Alexa have become synonymous with how a computer can carry on automated conversation and provide intel to consumers, our studies have shown that the purpose of bots moving forward is not necessarily to replace customer service agents and certain services altogether, but empower and aid them (especially personalized services like financial management).
For Facebook, Calibra’s success will depend on its credibility (note: another area where Servicefriend has had success is in using customer service as a marketing channel). Getting it wrong could not just be problematic with consumers, but with partners, and potentially even regulators… again.