Bring the best services to your favorite messaging apps

#2 Product of the WeekJanuary 07, 2016
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I wanted to share a story about why I'm so excited about messaging. It's 2009, and I've been at Best Buy 7 years since selling Geek Squad to them. I'm sitting in a meeting where some PR firm is pitching their next year's projects for Best Buy. The bid? 3 million. As I was oft to do, I'm on twitter - watching pissed off customers tweet one problem after another. I turned to Best Buy's CMO at the time, Barry Judge and said, "What if our PR strategy was to listen to customers?" That's when we took a small piece of that money and built an in-house twitter tool to allow customers to message customer support. It was similar to a custom version of ZenDesk. The vision was to imagine EVERY employee of a company accessible through real-time chat, use the data to predict problems before they occur, and empower employees to help. The most people we were able to get on that system was 5,000 out of 150,000 employees. I left Best Buy in 2012, and sadly there are likely less than 5,000 still using it. We are excited to try and accelerate 2 things: expose more APIs that allow for customer self-service, like scheduling, pre-ordering, queuing, requests, etc. Further, when you need to talk to a business, that you can do it through a single interface where YOU have a copy of the conversation "for quality purposes". We all have a long way to go, but I hope you can see what kinds of service could be delivered in the coming months and years.
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@rstephens excited to see this come to fruition!
Very impressed with the smooth Facebook Messenger connection. It just works, no installation required. I've never seen a bot working inside Facebook Messenger - is this an official connection, or are they going to shut you down when the word is out? Very interesting! Can you share more info on this?
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@mmariansky can't really say much but I think it's obvious where all this is going. I started Geek Squad as soon as I saw the web in college. I haven't been as excited until now in hopes of using messaging versus voice for customer service.
@mmariansky They are using this Facebook Page Edge:
@mmariansky FYI - we just made a huge performance improvement to the FB Messenger integration
@jimmyliu FYI - we just made a huge performance improvement to the FB Messenger integration
So TechCrunch just published: Assist Has No App. It’s A Free Travel/Shopping Chat Bot For SMS And Fb Messenger h/t @joshconstine Assist is a chatbot that aggregates APIs to let you message GrubHub, Eat24, Postmates, Uber, Lyft, OpenTable, StubHub, and more. It works across Facebook Messenger, Slack, Telegram, and SMS I personally think 2016 will see an influx of Chatbots and what a fantastic one to kick off the year with! Plans include going into suggesting services for users which would be really cool! I'll let @shanemac and team tell you more :) Where does it currently work/work the best and where are you looking to expand next? What is the story here?
@bentossell I will tell you that v1 has one simple goal: take all of the local services that you could order with your mobile phone and access them without installing an app if possible. Next up is to try and find and integrate as many services that we all know will be emerging in the coming years.
@rstephens is it mainly US for now?
@bentossell yes, for now. Mainly due to SMS limitations, especially as this is a v1.
@rstephens looking forward to the global takeover!
This is so cool. Not sure if you guys can answer this yet publicly, but I'll throw the question out: what type of AI are you using? Did you build your own using deep learning algos , or is this a machine learning/Watson type set-up, or are you just licensing some other AI? How much of the guts can you tell us about?
@tuckermax As bots become more and more common, machine learning and technologies like recurrent neural nets will be the key to expanding capability through messaging and text interfaces. There is a lot of very new open source code being released by Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and others. This is one of the keys how we plan to improve @Assist. I also think it is no accident that Mark Zuckerberg chose to build his own "Jarvis" for home automation - which will use text and voice control. Think of the message this sends to all Facebook engineers, especially the Messenger and WhatsApp teams.
@tuckermax Thanks brother and thanks for being in my camp for the past year. Much appreciated for all your thoughts and support. I don't care what people say, you ain't too bad of a guy.
I'm really getting tired of emails for notifications. I much rather have text messages for everything important... I will definitely be using the crap out of this. 🙌😀
@dredurr at this rate, aren't we going to end up with just as much notification spam in our text messages?
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@sachagreif I think you can expect notifications and preferences to become much smarter and learn what you like and don't like. That's what's different this time.