Sephora Chatbot On Facebook Messenger To Aid In Search, Discovery

Facebook on Thursday unveiled several tools and updates to Messenger that will make search and discovery much easier for consumers. Natural-language processing (NLP) is one tool, which provides the ability to automatically detect the context of a message to interpret the conversation, as well as the hand-over protocol that enables businesses to create multiple experiences within one conversation. Facebook also launched a call-to-action button.

The spillover from search engines like Bing into social networks has Sprinklr working with Sephora to move its chatbot on Messenger to the next version, 2.1, which uses Facebook's hand-over protocol. There are other platforms such as LiveWorld that also hands the person using the chatbot to a live person if it cannot answer questions. And Microsoft Bing launched chatbots in search earlier this year.  

Assist, the business messaging platform on Facebook Messenger as part of the hand-over protocol announced Thursday, will help evaluate messages from Sephora customers to see if a bot can respond to the request. If a bot can’t respond, the message will be passed along to Sprinklr’s platform and routed to the correct live agent.

Facebook announced the hand-over Protocol in April at F8, Facebook’s developer conference. The hand-over protocol works just as it is described -- it hands the consumer to a live person if the chatbot cannot answer the question. As part of a closed beta, Sprinklr has been working with Facebook for the last few months to refine the capability.

The social network reported that mobile ad revenue reached $8 billion for second-quarter 2017, representing about 87% of the total, up from 84% in the year-ago quarter.

Mobile users will get the most from chatbots willing to do the search and discovery for those visiting the social network.

During the earnings call on Thursday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook has been working to build a business "ecosystem" around Messenger. The company wants to gain a better understanding of how users relate to ads in Messenger, so it has begun to put some ads into the product just to see how they perform, if people like or dislike the ads, and how they work for businesses.

"The biggest strategic thing that we really need to do in messaging right now is make it so that people organically interact with businesses and that that is a good interaction both for people and for the businesses," Zuckerberg said during the earnings call, which plays well into the strategy of allowing brands to use chatbots.

Ross Sandler, analyst at Barclays Capital, during the call asked whether Messenger has about 1 billion and 20 billion messages per day, but David Wehner, Facebook CFO, said the company is not sharing detailed stats on engagement, but did admit that combined the two have more than 1.2 billion monthly. 

Sprinklr also recently announced integrations with Instagram's new API to enable businesses to hide, delete and turn on and off comments in Sprinklr’s platform.

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