The Washington Capitals Are Getting Creative With A Facebook Messenger Bot

iPhone screenshots of the Capitals Facebook Messenger bot in motion.

Beginning as an offseason challenge, the Washington Capitals kicked off this season by rolling out their model new Facebook Messenger bot on opening night time of their 2016 marketing campaign.

The bot itself is constructed inside the Facebook Messenger app, a know-how that Facebook unveiled at one in every of its developer conferences by displaying some examples that they created for a number of the largest manufacturers on the planet. This new know-how creates infinite prospects for buyer integration, whereas additionally permitting for instantaneous replies to individuals messaging the corporate by means of the Messenger app.

“Lots of of individuals have been messaging us [the Washington Capitals] anyplace from daily to each week, relying on the time of yr. It turned quite a bit to deal with,” stated James Heuser, Director of Digital Media for the Washington Capitals. “The bot appeared like the right alternative to broaden our fan interplay, as a result of now they don’t have to attend for a reply from us once they message the Capitals; it’s quick.”

The Facebook bot, created along side an area D.C. firm referred to as Interactive Technique Labs, works by prompting customers to ask it a sure query, and based mostly on the query requested by the consumer, the bot will reply from a specific amount of programmed “intents”, that are the totally different classes that the Capitals have put in into its software program to answer appropriately.

Because the bot continues to be in its starting levels, it’ll push the consumer in the direction of these common areas that it could reply to, in order to enhance its effectivity with serving to the client because the Capitals proceed to advance their bot’s know-how and attain. The basic areas that the bot can solutions questions on now are: FAQs, Trivia, and Tickets. FAQs cowl a variety of sub-classes, nevertheless, together with hyperlinks to the Capitals’ schedule, staff stats and a format of the world that may pop up inside the Messenger interface when prompted.

“We needed to start out with one thing that replied, allowed followers to have some interplay and drive them in the direction of what they is perhaps on the lookout for, virtually like an automatic customer support assistant,” said Heuser. “We hope so as to add extra integration sooner or later, as proper now it does a whole lot of linking out to the Capitals’ web site, however we need to have extra interplay contained in the bot itself.”

For instance, if a fan on the recreation requested the bot who scored that final objective, Heuser hopes to show the bot to not solely reply that, the truth is, Alex Ovechkin scored the aim, but in addition have the ability to present a video spotlight that his media staff has simply minimize collectively of the aim in actual time, and instantly have it obtainable to be used by the bot.

Though the bot shouldn’t be fairly on the stage that Heuser and his group envision it reaching, they did train it an important capacity for this age of Web customers: the right way to determine trollers.

We’ve truly taught it actually shortly to determine people who find themselves making an attempt to troll it, since most individuals’s first response is to attempt to break the bot’s mind,” stated Heuser. “It has some sassy solutions to it that we’ve allowed it to have and say to followers who’re giving the bot a tough time.”

For these readers who’re considering that this bot is simply one other approach for corporations to get out of truly speaking to followers and clients on the telephone, the Capitals have inbuilt a again door to watch the bot and its responses, in addition to the power to go in and manually reply to a fan that’s nonetheless confused by the automated responses.

“All the things that appears tremendous necessary ends with contact info, in order that the fan can name the Capitals immediately for extra info,” stated Heuser.

Past the overall enhancement of fan interplay, the Messenger bot improves the Capitals’ Facebook fan engagement tenfold. Responding to a whole lot of feedback and messages on Facebook is tiresome and exhausting to trace, as there are method too many posts to regulate and reply to on any given day. With the Messenger platform, followers have a confirmed, singular technique of contacting the Capitals and making certain that they’ll get an immediate response that may assist direct them in the best course.

Moreover, the Capitals appear to have put in little “Easter Eggs”, as they name them, within the bot, primarily coping with the in-app trivia that’s out there at any time when a fan messages the Capitals. The trivia function is among the most important intents of the bot, so it’s going to immediate the consumer to play trivia as soon as it finishes fixing his or her particular query, simply as a solution to maintain the fan interacting with the Messenger bot.screen-shot-2016-11-09-at-10-05-55-am

The trivia recreation could be very a lot within the infancy levels proper now, merely asking a collection of loaded questions that Heuser and his digital media staff cycle by way of the bot from time to time, updating the questions because the season goes alongside. Nevertheless, Heuser sees rather more potential for this “hidden gem” and lots of different methods to include video games into the bot.

“We’ve all these totally different theme nights and totally different occasions that encompass our group, and we wish to add trivia that’s particular to that recreation,” Heuser stated. “We’re specializing in tying the bot into the in-recreation expertise, the place followers which might be on the recreation could be prompted to play a recreation on the Bot throughout a sure night time, and in the event that they do nicely, they might win a prize at customer support.”

Along with the trivia recreation, the Capitals plan on including extra intuitive elements to the bot, together with having a Capitals’ participant sing “Glad Birthday” when it’s a consumer’s birthday on Facebook, or unlocking a particular video or image that may solely be seen should you get a sure query proper. Primarily, Heuser and his staff’s aim is to permit customers to have continually updating content material on the bot that may hold followers coming again to work together with the bot day in and day trip.

One of many methods they plan on doing that’s via the in-recreation expertise that followers are craving on this social media and know-how pushed age.

“We haven’t tried to attach the in-recreation to the bot with the trivia, all it does proper now’s direct followers who’re on the recreation to the place they will eat, the place the ATMs are, and so on.,” stated Heuser. “That in-recreation interactive factor is definitely a subsequent step for us.”

No matter the place the bot is at in its improvement proper now, the Washington Capitals have definitely ventured into unchartered waters, as they’re the primary NHL group to develop a bot like this for Facebook Messenger. Breaking floor into new areas of social media is nothing new for the Capitals, nevertheless, as they have been the primary workforce within the NHL to make the most of Snapchat tales, which enhanced their following on that medium tremendously.

“When you take a look at anybody’s follower teams, you possibly can see that Facebook has the most important following, and that’s trending throughout the league. Apart from posting content material on Facebook, you possibly can message on it,” stated Heuser. “So, regardless of the market and the dimensions, any staff can undoubtedly use this device as one thing to work together with their followers on a extra engaged foundation, and Facebook is the one social media channel that gives this functionality.”