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Facebook Can Kill the Outsourcing Industry

For many years, Facebook has been a global internet mammoth. Its vision to build and connect global community flourished because of constant innovation and creativity. Ever since Facebook became a household name in social media, people all over the world has been maximizing the functional features being changed and updated once in a while. The social media giant has been expanding its reach and influence since its worldwide eruption. Birth of trends after trends is what social media users experience. As the number of smartphone users ascended, Facebook became one of the top mobile applications.

After becoming a massive hit to the mobile world, the social media phenomenon plans to venture into businesses with the introduction of a brand innovation. And this could be another potential mobile denomination. Because of an enormous amount of messaging apps users, developers of the social media platform launched the so-called Chatbots.

Explaining Chatbots

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In an article, the bot is described as a “software infused with the ability to learn from conversations, and could get better at figuring out what people are telling them and how best to respond.”

Chatbots are software aimed to help people with queries and entertainment through chat. Take for example Siri (Apple) and Cortana (Microsoft); they are somehow alike with Chatbots. Siri and Cortana are like personal assistants to users. There were earlier versions of bots before. The first one was SmarterChild in American Online Instant Messenger (AIM). However, it was a weak type of bot because of its purpose is solely for humor. Microsoft tried tapping the bot’s potential through Tay, a Twitter bot designed as an experiment on conventional understanding. Unfortunately, Tay received criticism after giving discriminatory and racist series of tweets.

During the Facebook’s F8 conference, the premiere social network introduced the newest version of their separate app ‘The Messenger Platform’. The Messenger Platform is a messaging app enhance with bots and a bot store. These bots have the ability to “provide anything from programmed subscription content like weather and traffic updates to customized communications like receipts, shipping notifications, and live automated messages all by interacting directly with the people who want to get them.”

The Messenger Platform and The Bot Store

Kik, a popular messaging app to teens, ventured as well with this artificial intelligence experience. On early April 2016, Kik unveiled their chatbot store. The main objective of the chatbot store is to let brand companies talk to users. The Kik’s bot store will allow the users download bots for shopping, customer service, and entertainment. Mike Roberts, Kik’s head for messaging services, believe that messaging apps and bots can help in virtual evolution. In which he claimed that Messengers are the new browser and bots are the new website.

After the launch of the Kik bot shop, rumors spread that Facebook would release another feature the same as the bot shop. And it was true. However, if  this type of software is already existing before, why does Facebook’s version of chatbots is revolutionary to businesses, users, and adverts?

During the Facebook’s F8 conference, the premiere social network introduced the newest version of their separate app ‘The Messenger Platform’. The Messenger Platform is a messaging app enhance with bots and a bot store. These bots have the ability to “provide anything from programmed subscription content like weather and traffic updates, to customized communications like receipts, shipping notifications, and live automated messages all by interacting directly with the people who want to get them.”

Because of the surge of various direct messaging app, Facebook has been ardent on making Messenger an avenue for a wide audience namely the users, organizations and developers. And having roughly 900 million users, the incorporation chatbots to a behemoth messaging app can bring huge impacts to how businesses run customer engagements.

 

  1.      Customer Service – According to Stan Chudnovsky, Messenger’s head of product, “We are trying to make [the customer service experience], more human. It’s easier to chat and text than sit on the phone.” Clearly, chatbot makers intentionally wanted to make waves in customer service. Given the population of the social network users, if bots became a hit, it could replace contact lines. And this would mean a cut in demand for customer service representatives.
  2.   Sales and Double Duty– One of the vivid targets of bots is retail businesses. Facebook Messenger intentionally creates their bots to be a revolution to shopping, restaurant, and anything that generate sales. Because of this capability, bots can sweep out sales agents in the call center. In a sense that bots can give options to customer and at the same time conduct surveys to users. Allowing these bots to Messenger opens an opportunity for Facebook to know the way people interact with brands resulting to acquiring audience information. In a business perspective, having a tool that can perform double purpose is better than having multiple employees with specific call center specialization.
  3.   Cheap – Because of its two-in-1 purpose, bots can be cheaper than hiring a group of expert in the outsourcing. Although both bots and call center agents can produce profit, cost and expenditure in generating a profit is always in consideration when it comes to business. A tycoon would love excellent results done in a non-costly way.
  4.   Reactive – The bots have the ability to listen to a client, which is one of its humanized features. Hence, it can have a conversational appeal that a large audience would love. Having the appeal factor with easy access, businesses could possibly invest to them instead of people. Nowadays, it is the audience that controls the businesses. If majority agrees on something, it is a sure deciding factor.
  5.   Customized – The additional features of the Messenger include a search bar for discovering bots and a block button. Moreover, developers can customize bots or ask help from Facebook’s bot-building partners. Facebook is also keen in improving and enhancing bots capabilities by allowing Bot Engine. The Bot Engine is “built on its acquisition of natural language interface startup Wit.ai. Based on the same system Facebook uses to teach its own artificial intelligence M, developers can feed the Bot Engine sample conversations and it will learn how to handle similar conversations on its own.” Hence, the advancement of a bot depends on how the developer train and educate it. And it could be the same way
  6.   Pervasive – The scariest thing for BPO industry about Facebook Chatbots is the large audience reach it already has. And businesses love to invest to the place where the largest number of customers is. This would mean that the social network’s bots could be the same as the status the of the new media darling, pervasive.

The launching of Chatbots in Facebook caused a significant shift of views in businesses. Many see the potential of Chatbot to deliver a more personalized and deeper engagement with customers through the direct messaging experience. It rapidly became the possible biggest hit in businesses and tech outlets. Thus, many reasons arise on how can chatbots be a serious threat in the call center scene.

Threat #1: They are can entirely replace customer service representatives

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Photo courtesy of Alexas_Photos via Pixabay

According to Stan Chudnovsky, Messenger’s head of product, “We are trying to make [the customer service experience], more human. It’s easier to chat and text than sit on the phone.” Apparently, chatbot makers intentionally wanted to make waves in customer service. Given the population of the social network users, if bots became a hit, it could replace contact lines. And this would mean a cut in demand for customer service representatives.

Threat#2: The can sales talk and do surveys at the same time.

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Photo courtesy of tmeier1964 via Pixabay

One of the vivid targets of bots is retail businesses. Facebook Messenger intentionally creates their bots to be a revolution to shopping, restaurant, and anything that generate sales. Because of this capability, bots can sweep out sales agents in the call center. In a sense that bots can give options to customers and at the same time conduct surveys to users. In a business perspective, having a tool that can perform double purpose is better than having multiple employees with particular call center specialization.

Threat #3: Having Chatbot is cheaper than hiring agent

Bots can be cheaper than hiring a group of experts in the outsourcing . Although both bots and call center agents can produce profit, cost and expenditure in generating a profit is always in consideration when it comes to business. A businessperson would love excellent results done in a non-costly way.

Threat #4: They can react just like humans!

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Photo courtesy of tookapic via Pixabay

The bots have the ability to listen and react to a client, which is one of its humanized features. Hence, it can have a conversational appeal that a broad audience would love. Businesses could invest in them instead of people. Nowadays, it is the audience that controls the markets. If the majority agrees on something, it is a particular deciding factor.

Threat #5: They can be customized and be personalized.

The additional features of the Messenger include a search bar for discovering bots and a block button. Moreover, developers can customize bots or ask help from Facebook’s bot-building partners. Facebook is also keen in improving and enhancing bots’ capabilities by allowing Bot Engine. The Bot Engine is “built on its acquisition of natural language interface startup Wit.ai. Based on the same system Facebook uses to teach its artificial intelligence M, developers can feed the Bot Engine sample conversations, and it will learn how to handle similar conversations on its own.” Hence, the advancement of a bot depends on how the developer trains and educates it. And it could be the same way

Threat #6: They can be everywhere

The scariest thing about Facebook Chatbots is the large audience reach it already has. And businesses love to invest in the place where the greatest number of customers is. It means that the social network’s bots could be the same as the status the of the new media darling, pervasive.

The Challenge

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Even though the latest innovation of Facebook seems promising, call center industry can still thrive even Chatbots peak to its maximum potential. Although bots can give a personalized customer service experience, a personal human interaction is the best process in winning an angry customer.

These artificial intelligence products have the tendency to be repetitive because it is programmed to answer depending on what you ask. Unlike in call center industry, humans are the only one capable of giving certainty and empathy to customers. These are the core of a successful customer service experience. It’s a sure thing that a bot can provide a lot of options, but a human-to-human communication is spontaneous, personal, and accurate. Moreover, if chatbots are reactive, humans are proactive. Thus, bots can listen but cannot understand. Call center agents should master understanding, It could be an edge that chatbots will never possess.

The challenge for the call center industry and agents is competence. Outsourcing industry should be aware on how to improve customer service. Call center agent hiring should ensure that employees are adept in communicating and has mastery in language. Call center agents should have an English grammar proficiency. At the end of the day, real connection happens to both humans.

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