Q&A with Greg Leuch

Q&A with Greg Leuch

Q&A with Greg Leuch

Greg Leuch – Head of Product – Poncho Inc., one of the 1st Chatbots of Messenger, launched by Facebook on April 2016.

1. What do you think “Poncho” provide to the user, different from any other weather information service?

Poncho provides a friendly, fun forecast every morning and evening. Rather than tell you the weather, we try to make it relatable and entertaining each and every day.

2.     As one of the 1st Messenger Chatbots, was the public ready to interact with Poncho, or it took them a while to understand the concept?

I think the general public was mostly ready to interact with Poncho. However, being one of the first chat bots in this space, there was a gap between user expectation and chat bot capabilities by some tech enthusiasts. When debuting on-stage as a partner in a big new thing by Facebook, many thought we’d have amazing language understanding on par with Siri, Alexa, and others. But we didn’t. We focused on what we thought would be the best conversations people would try to have, common trolling behaviors, and above all, enough understanding to handle a variety of weather conversations in order to nail a specific subject experience.

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3.     What do you think Chatbots bring as an added value to the existing market offers?

Chat bots are great for products that need to emphasize and emote with a user. Text conversation with punctuation, emoji, and humor… audio with volume, inflection, and rhythm… a GUI interface cannot always provide the same experience that a human conversation can.

4.     Is there a user-type that best interacts with “Poncho”, or is it for everyone?

We like to think it is for everyone, but Poncho only understands English and some of our jokes reference pop culture & recent American events that may not be understood all. But we try to provide a straightforward experience so you can ask weather-related questions and get helpful weather information.

5.     Are Chatbots another communication tool, or are they providing something new?

I see chat bots as providing both communication tool but more importantly providing a more natural user experience that is both simple, straightforward, and intuitive. Not all conversational interfaces need to be chatty, but those that are need to really design around the conversational experience, whether text or audio.

6.     How do you foresee the future human interaction with bots?

I see the long term of bot interactions leading into mixed reality experiences, more integrations with smart tools (IoT), and more intuitive experiences through visual and audio experiences. And from an AI/NLU view, these technologies won’t be trying to solve a one-all solution, but a seamless transition between a variety of bots, skills, and experiences.

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