Bing launches bots for local businesses
Bots are created automatically from data in Bing Places and will soon work with Facebook Messenger and Cortana.
The Bots are coming. Through its Bot Framework, Microsoft is integrating chatbots into search results — to make search more interactive and transactional.
In April, Matt McGee spotted the appearance of chat functionality for selected Seattle-area restaurants. Last week it rolled out officially (still only to restaurants) through Bing Places and the newly launched Business Bot program. Here’s the big news: Microsoft will automatically create a bot from the data in Bing Places.
The business doesn’t need to do anything technical. It just answers a few structured questions and accepts the bot agreement terms. Thereafter, when users search for the business, a screen like the following will appear:
Users can then get basic questions about the business answered through the bot (e.g., “do you have outdoor seating?”). If there’s a question it can’t answer, the bot will refer the user to a phone number. The bot can also ask business owners additional questions, depending on what information users are seeking. The new information will then be incorporated into the dataset the bot uses to respond.
There are three noteworthy aspects of this development:
- The consumer experience: ability to get deeper questions answered and possibly conduct transactions within the SERP
- The automated creation of the bot using data provided to Bing Places
- The created bot will be available across channels and platforms (create once, publish across sites)