The innovative new chatbot, nicknamed after historic club figure and Football League founder William McGregor, is an organically developed messaging personality that enhances upon every interaction with a supporter.
With the face of football changing and undergoing a digital revolution, fans crave constant interaction with the club. Villa thrive on providing multiple touchpoints for their fanbase, constantly innovating and creating inventive ways to open dialogue.
The club overhauled their social media channels to reflect the character of the club and its supporters. BillyBot consolidates that effort into one easy to access tool that allows fans instant, intelligent conversation with the club via Facebook Messenger.
The club have taken a unique approach to the creation of BillyBot. The chatbot will stay in a continual beta development stage, allowing it to develop organically, shaped by the feedback and needs of the user.
The tool provides a convenient and entertaining touch point for fans but, importantly, it also offers a service.
The club are keen to keep the user at the heart of that development, ensuring that fan response shapes the chatbot service into something of genuine use and purpose. Any time BillyBot is asked a question it cannot answer, the incident will be logged and the developers will build in an appropriate response in the near future.
This will be a manual process, rather than machine-led learning, ensuring the chatbot retains its carefully curated tone of voice.
Furthermore, users will be able to directly speak to the chatbot about features that they would like to see incorporated into the tool.
This will provide a creative platform that allows the club and fans to work collaboratively to develop new and exciting features, unique to BillyBot.
BillyBot operates with a unique sense of humour that captures the personality of the club’s social media platforms. It will be able to answer all enquiries about latest results, upcoming fixtures and tickets, as well as assist with tools like Pride Rewards. It will also engage and entertain the fans, provide genuine insight into the personality of the club and the values of Pride, Passion and Purpose that drive our successes on and off the field.
Will Radford, Head of Digital and Content, said: “At Villa we’ve been working very hard to create a social voice that our supporters can relate to. As football embraces digital, we are developing a deep understanding of what it is that fans want and need from our social channels for them to be successful and impactful.
“Our understanding of the necessity to be led by the fan is what has inspired us to approach the development of our chatbot through a uniquely organic process. Everything we do at Villa keeps the fan at the heart of the experience and the development of BillyBot is no different.
“We believe that this approach will allow us to create a truly industry-leading and unique chatbot, with the customer experience informing the features that need to be added or removed. It is vital that what we develop with BillyBot is a useful tool, but we also want to inspire creativity and be first movers, bringing unique feature sets to market as we receive the user feedback.”
Luca Massaro, Chief Executive of WePlay, the Sports Marketing Agency behind the chatbot, said: “WePlay are proud to have been working together with Aston Villa on fan engagement initiatives since 2016.
“For the start of the 2017/18 season, WePlay developed a partnership with The Bot Platform, Facebook’s leading Messenger Bot developer, and working together with Aston Villa, BillyBot was born.
“It has been an exciting journey that we have been on and we are delighted with what BillyBot offers fans. It not only provides a new way for fans to engage with the club, but also offers a real-time platform for fans to influence the service that the club provides.
“We are excited about the future of BillyBot and of Messenger in the football industry.”
To explore BillyBot’s functionality and send it a message, click here.