17-year old dropout aims to change the face of DIY customer service

By Zac Laval September 21, 2017
Chatbots replacing online FAQ sections.

Recently, chatbots have been getting a lot of attention about how they can help businesses with various customer-facing tasks — particularly, customer service. The idea is that customer service can be an unnecessarily expensive and time-consuming endeavor, and that certain aspects of it can be automated using tools like chatbots.

Unsurprisingly, it is cost-effective for companies to limit the need for customer service representatives, as more inquiries requires more personnel, and more personnel requires more spending. For this reason, it has become common practice for companies to develop FAQ sections on their websites which serve as a “self-serve,” DIY-type of customer service.

Unfortunately, FAQ sections are not always effective as a customer service tool. Maybe the content is simply lacking, the page is too hard to find, or readers are just too lazy to sort through the content or click CTRL + F. Personally, I have found myself in each of these situations, after which I call the customer service number and yell “REPRESENTATIVE” until I am connected with a real person.

The promise of chatbots is to personalize and humanize the experience with the intention of avoiding such a frustrating customer experience.

chatbots, startup, Faqbot

Mathis André, Co-founder and CEO of Faqbot

With this idea in mind, Mathis André, a 17-year old French high-school dropout, created Faqbot — a company that transforms FAQ pages into live conversational agents. Working with seasoned sales and tech veteran, Denny Wong, the duo aspires to change the initial point of contact for customers when they encounter an issue or have an urgent question.

The chatbots, developed by André, utilize a type of machine learning feedback loop, whereby they get smarter as they go. When the bot does not know the answer to a question, Faqbot will create a notification that allows the company to take control of the conversation in real-time, follow up later, or add to the bot’s existing knowledge database.

While the idea sounds great in theory, not everyone agrees that FAQs can or should be replaced by chatbots. In a post by Chatbots Magazine, the author discusses a few hesitancies he has regarding this particular use of the technology.

First, he describes the challenge that chatbots often have with context — particularly, regarding follow-up questions, such as: “How much is it?” In this example, the chatbot must be capable of understanding from context what it is. Additionally, the scope of the questions that the bot can answer is very important — can it answer questions regarding an order I placed, for example? The author of the article raises a few more very important concerns, but it is important to note that this tool is not being used to replace customer service, but rather, to supplement it.

chatbots, startup, Faqbot

Denny Wong, Co-founder of Faqbot

Even Microsoft has jumped on board, eager to expand the use of chatbots to FAQs. Late last year, the company launched the QnA Maker designed to build and train bots using its Bot Framework. Most recently, the company has launched the Bing Business Bot that allows business owners to create bots that answer various FAQs within the Bing search results.

While the technology might not yet be perfect, the fact that Microsoft is making similar moves points in a favorable direction for the technology behind the young startup. So far, Faqbot has sold about 10 chatbots and has raised €128,000.

The company is still very young and has plans to continue developing its technology before considering a seed round. With that being said, the team behind Faqbot see that as a likely possibility moving forward.