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Our First Chat Bot


A year ago Facebook made it possible for businesses to start building chat bots within Facebook Messenger to communicate with their customers. Right after the announcement we talked at great length about what a chat bot for FranchiseHelp would mean. And we couldn't really agree...

Some of us thought that we should take our franchise matching quiz and turn it into an interactive experience.

Some of us thought that we should use it to interact with people who dropped off the quiz.

Some of us thought that we should use it like we use email.

But we couldn't quite figure out what any of those options would look like, or even where to get started.

So we did what we do best when testing out a new idea. We faked it! We started using Facebook ads to drive to Messenger conversations where we would manually communicate with the folks on the other end by asking them questions that would simulate the quiz.

And it failed MISERABLY. But hey, that's just how we learn what to do next.

We waited about 8 months before jumping back into the Facebook chat bot conversation. In the meantime a number of companies (ChatFuel, Many Chat, etc.) had developed user friendly tools that let non-technically savvy folks build their own chat bots in a few minutes. This time our conversation was much different. We still didn't know exactly how we would be able to generate franchise leads through Facebook messenger. But we did know that we would be able to build a test version and iterate on it very, very quickly. 

So we started to test again. This time starting from the simplest version of the quiz questions we needed to ask to present a user a list of franchise options that they were qualified for. It looked something like this:

I'll be the first to admit - it's ugly, it's clunky, and it's pretty limited. But it's also proved to be a very good starting point for understanding how our users interact with a chat bot and what they are looking for in guidance when choosing a franchise. We've already seen a few leads come through our chat bot and I expect to see more coming through in the coming months as we improve the functionality.

Right now we're trying to understand how we can customize the user experience so that users will be presented with the right franchise given their full situation, rather than a static list of franchises in a given category. We're also trying to see if a chat bot can be used to qualify leads during an initial conversation (if you're interested in helping us test this out let me know). Who knows, maybe in a few years chat bots will be a critical component to the entire franchise development process.


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