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Developing Your Own Bot

Posted on 6.21.2017
Bots are the talk of the town these days. Although we cannot be certain all of that chatter is "real," we do know that bots have staying power particularly when it comes to their use within customer service for businesses large and small.

While most experts agree that bots should be used in conjunction with human reps, there are many tasks bots can handle to free employees for other, less-automated work. 

And, if response times on social media are any indication, bots could really be put to good use on the various networks. 

Sprout Social has been one of the more prominent voices in the realm of customer service on social media, knowing that brands rarely reply to customers there.

For the unfamiliar, its Smart Inbox allows brands to have a single feed of incoming messages mentioning their business name, keywords or hashtags the company has signaled they want to monitor. Sprout Social also allows for the answering of those messages within the inbox and to get a quick idea of how many followers the people messaging them have. Whether it's Sprout Social or one of its competitors (Hootsuite, Buffer, Brandwatch), having an inbox to receive social media mentions in one spot is the gold standard for social media management today. 

Despite the availability of these social media management platforms, brands are overwhelmingly failing at social customer service. The reason? We'd wager most would cite time. This is where bots can help.

Developing a bot could seem difficult to the non-technical marketer, but Facebook natively offers "easy" ones to develop like Instant Replies and Apple is offering businesses a way to develop for its Business Chat before it's launched to the public next year - no doubt bots will play a big role in that development as customers will have even more channels to directly contact brands from. 

Announced this week, Sprout Social has released a product called "Bot Builder," a new offering enabling its Enterprise Plan users to create, preview and deploy Twitter chatbots "in a matter of minutes."

The ideal use-case for these self-configurable bots is to collect customer information so the agent has context "even before their first interaction" according to Aaron Rankin, CTO of Sprout Social.
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The way this "handoff" will occur is by having these messages stream into the Smart Inbox with an employee stepping in when needed. This will, of course, mean that businesses must monitor incoming messages, as bots do not provide a free pass for human customer service on social media. 

One of the most intriguing parts of the Bot Builder is that customers get a quick response to their queries, something they expect on social media. Another intriguing part about the launch is that the user's history with the company (bot or person) will appear in their History so companies always have full context.

+ Want to know more about contextual customer service? We encourage you to subscribe to receive our July feature entitled, "Choice and Context in Digital Customer Service" explaining the importance of context in more detail. It's being printed and sent out now and will be available online the first week of July.
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