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Meet the Xero chatbot for Messenger which connects 50 million small businesses to the global accounting ecosystem

Posted 1 year ago in Xero news by Oliver Furniss
Posted by Oliver Furniss

The proliferation of mobile technology and social networks have changed the way we communicate with our friends, family and colleagues.

Increasingly, small business owners are harnessing the anywhere, anytime convenience of mobility, and the cloud, to run their business on their phone. Texting a customer to let them know they’ll be meeting them shortly, using messenger platforms like Slack to keep their accountant up-to-date or using Google Hangouts to host meetings virtually. We have come a long way from sending letters, emails or even picking up the phone to call someone.

Every month, over 1 billion people around the world communicate with friends, families and over 50 million businesses on Facebook Messenger,  interacting with customers, keeping them up-to-date.

09-sept-facebook

A recent Xero survey of more than 1,200 small business owners found that over 83 percent of respondents now use modern communications channels (social media, text, mobile messaging or online chat) for communicating one-to-one with a customer. With the majority of these tech savvy small business owners (over 80 percent) leveraging these tools weekly, and in many cases (over 45 percent) using them daily.

More than half of respondents reported that they have communicated with an accountant or bookkeeper through one of these mediums, the most prevalent (43 percent) using text messages to stay in touch.

With this in mind, Xero has been working on further integrating our small business platform with products like Facebook Messenger so you can access the information you need, where you want it.

This week at Xerocon, Australasia’s largest accounting technology conference, Xero CEO Rod Drury demonstrated Hey Xero – our chatbot which integrates directly with Messenger.

Built on Amazon Web Services, the chatbot leverages machine learning technology and the $1 trillion worth of transactional data processed in Xero over the past 12 months to enable businesses to query their latest financial data, including who owes them money, when their next bill is due or how much money is in their bank account. It also connects to the Xero Advisor Directory and can recommend a suitable accountant or bookkeeper in their area. Xero subscribers will also be able to discover new apps in the Xero ecosystem.

Hey Xero_2

“Connecting the more than 50 million small businesses on Facebook Messenger with accountants and bookkeepers is a huge opportunity for our industry. We’re opening up access to accounting software, solutions and advisors to help millions of small businesses be more productive and get the advice they need to grow and create jobs,” Drury said.

According to Facebook, more than one billion messages pass between people and businesses every month on the social media platform, and that more than two-thirds of people expect to use messaging apps to talk to business.

Xero is also working to make the tools available to other messaging platforms such as Slack and Apple iOS Messages in the future, enabling Xero subscribers and new customers to access their accounting dashboard from their platform or device of choice.

The Xero chatbot for Facebook Messenger will be available in the near future for general availability.

12 comments

chatbot fan
September 9, 2016 at 2.31 pm

this is awesome. when is this going live?

Oliver Furniss in reply to chatbot fan
September 9, 2016 at 3.53 pm

The Xero chatbot for Facebook Messenger will be available in the near future for general availability. More to follow when it’s available.

Dave in reply to Oliver Furniss
September 10, 2016 at 8.26 pm

Smashing!

Nigel
September 10, 2016 at 11.28 pm

This looks like an amazing technology demonstrator, but please, please deliver the reports I need so I can run my business as easily as possible before spending your resources on rocket science.

Three examples are: you can’t create supplier statements; you can’t create a BACS file for any UK bank containing an accurate payment reference field; the UK payroll/pensions integrations promised for May and mid 2016 have not yet been launched.

I realise this clever stuff and your new tools for accountants help you sell and grow – but please concentrate on the core book keeping app a little more.

Oliver Furniss in reply to Nigel
September 11, 2016 at 11.20 am

@Nigel, thanks for the feedback. Although it may appear we are prioritising this type of innovation over other updates I can assure you this is not the case. Each feature or product we assess and build have different technical skills and experience needs. For example the Facebook Messenger chatbot uses very different skills compared to what we need to improve reports or updates in the core accounting engine.

We have new Contact Reports coming out in the very near future to build on the latest updates to Reporting which we expect will solve many of the supplier statements concerns. In terms of payroll/pensions integrations this has turned out to be more complex than initially expected and whilst we are currently in beta with a number of customers we expect to have this available soon. We don’t want to rush this out to cause further issues down the road. Thanks for your patience. I haven’t heard of the BACS file issue so I will need to go and have a deeper look into that one.

Matthew Minshull
September 12, 2016 at 7.18 pm

Think I’m going to vomit. The odd text message yes, but the rest is just… well I won’t be using it – and yes, I am highly ‘tech savvy’.
You can send an invoice reminder, but it will be to every email address registered to that account! Sort out the scores of fundamental requirements before focusing on this headline-grabbing superficial nonsense please.
I don’t buy your response to Nigel. You have chosen to employ these skill sets over the ones required to develop the core system.

Bianca
September 12, 2016 at 8.21 pm

What a load of rubbish! There are basic fundamental accounting features missing from Xero (like I am currently unable to put an account on STOP, and I can’t send head-office statements) and yet you are needlessly messing around with unnecessary nonsense like this???? Someone at Xero needs to sort out their priorities ASAP as at the moment you have them totally backwards!!! Sorry to rain on your fireworks but I’m not impressed at all 🙁

Alexi
September 16, 2016 at 6.20 pm

You could use MYOB I guess if you wanted something worse.

Charles Klvana
September 14, 2016 at 1.33 am

Hey guys, how about an integration to Cortana? Uber app is integrated, and considering windows 10 has multiple times market share over something like OsX. So many businesses on Win10, imagine being able to ask Cortana this stuff above via a microphone or keyboard, without having to log into Xero? Gold!

AdamM
September 16, 2016 at 8.39 am

I will second this!

Callum
September 18, 2016 at 4.20 pm

It’s an interesting concept but frustrating to see energy going into this when the base product still has basic features missing, email templates for example are shocking inadequate.

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