Facebook debuted chatbots for Messenger this week to much fanfare, promising consumers a new way to interact with their favorite businesses over the company’s popular messaging service. The idea is that Messenger users could simply “chat” with these automated software programs to do things like read the latest news from CNN, get a weather report or even go shopping. In practice, however, the bots — at least at launch — failed to live up to the hype.

Trying to use the bots for simple tasks — like finding out if it would rain or buying a black shirt — was frustrating, disappointing and ultimately far less efficient than simply visiting the company’s website itself.

That’s not to downplay the potential for bots in the long term, or the possibilities provided by bringing Facebook’s large base of businesses to Messenger where they could better serve customers who increasingly use mobile messaging apps while on their smartphones.

However, as the chatbots for Messenger platform launches, the bot experience leaves much to be desired.

To get a good feel for Facebook’s chatbots, we demoed the three “Featured” bots that Facebook is promoting via its Messenger platform website: CNN, shopping app Spring and weather app Poncho.

Each bot had a “Try it” link provided, which opens directly on Messenger a chat interface with the business.

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 3.46.05 PM

For starters, clicking this link — the new short URLs aimed at Facebook Page owners (in the m.me format) — merely launched the chat window; there was no greeting text from the business in question. In other words, though you know that there’s a bot to interact with, you don’t know how to begin.

Does it require a trigger word or phrase? Can you just say “hi?”

Facebook will reportedly soon address this problem when it finalizes the rollout of “Messenger Greetings,” which will allow businesses to pass along a note to customers when they kick off a chat session. These greetings could instruct users how to get started using the bot. It’s unclear why Facebook wouldn’t have this enabled for the chatbots at launch, though. After all, this whole concept is new to so many of today’s mobile messaging users who are not old enough to remember chatting with IM bots like SmarterChild from back in their PC days.

As it turns out, not all the bots operate the same way.

For example, simply saying “hi” to CNN and Poncho generated an automated response, but Spring’s bot ignored me. (I had to Google to find out that the way to talk to Spring was to say “go shopping” to it.)

Unfortunately, that was the least of my problems with using the bots.

[Source:- Techcrunch]

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