A growing number of businesses are using chatbots in lots of exciting ways - in fact, according to Facebook, there are now over 300,000 active bots on Messenger.
You can order food, schedule flights, and get recommendations for pretty much anything you can think of - and while we’re still in the early days, the latest numbers, both in terms of available bots and usage, all point to one thing. Adoption is growing.
Whether you like it or not, chatbots and virtual assistants are the future of marketing and customer support, and that means they may present new opportunities for your business also.
Not sure if, or how, chatbots might fit into your strategy? Here are 9 examples of brands that are using bots to great effect.
Regardless of the situation, it’s human nature to be seeking out the next big thing. That is how we keep evolving as a species. We've even evolved in how we stay connected with each other from mail to telephones to computers. This shift in how we stay connected took a fascinating turn with the widespread adoption of the internet and artificial intelligence.
In business, connectedness is everything. It is the basis for how sales are made, customers are satisfied, and how brands develop.
In 2017, chatbots are poised to be the next big platform that connects people to businesses. A recent survey conducted by Oracle found that 80 percent of senior marketing and sales professionals expect to be using chatbots for customer interactions by 2020.
As wonderful as it sounds, implementing this channel into a business model is not apples to apples. That being said, let’s talk about how entrepreneurs can craft their approach to successfully navigate this connectivity trend, as well as the ones in the future.
Implementing chatbots -- or any customer touchpoint -- is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Every organization has a unique set of customers and discourse between parties. As effective as chatbots may be in terms of cost and interactions, they must be programmed in accordance with the customer journey.
For this to work, managers need to have a cognitive, data-backed understanding of the journey from A to Z. Even more, managers need to know the exact points for when and why customers reach out to the business. For instance, what are the types of content you produce that are meant to prompt interactions? What are the customers looking for?
This concept is nothing new. Knowing the finer details of the customer journey is the foundation for success in any capacity. As AI is taking a larger role in business operations, it’s not just about understanding it, it’s about having the accurate foresight and experience to program the robots to understand.
The most creative examples:
You can request a ride from Lyft via chat (Facebook Messenger and Slack) or voice (Amazon Echo). The bot will let you know the current location of your driver, and show you a picture of the license plate and car model. In Slack, you can simply use slash commands (e.g., /lyft home).
Fandango’s Facebook Messenger bot lets you watch movie trailers, find local theaters, and see what’s trending this week. Simply enter your city or ZIP code, and the chatbot will show you what’s playing nearby, when, and send you to a page where you can buy tickets.
Spotify’s Facebook Messenger bot makes it easy for its customers to search for, listen to, and share music. Once you get started, you’ll get playlist recommendations based on your mood, what’s your doing, or any genre of music you want.
Regardless of whether you’re at a store shopping for groceries, you can always search for recipes with the assistance of the Whole Foods bot on Facebook Messenger. One of the coolest parts is you can search by an emoji to get those recipes, while it also lets you filter your results if you have special dietary needs.
You can get all kinds of makeup tutorials if you chat to Sephora on Kik. This personal assistant will also help you by providing product reviews and ratings when you’re shopping in a store.
Mastercard’s Facebook Messenger bot makes it easy for customers to check on account transactions (e.g. just ask “how much did I spent on restaurants in May?”). With Masterpass, customers can also now buy from Mastercard partners like FreshDirect, Subway, and the Cheesecake Factory.
For customer service, Staples tries to make everything easier with its intelligent Easy System, done in partnership with IBM’s Watson. Staples’ Facebook Messenger bot can answer common customer questions, which tend to be about orders - tracking and returns - and whether specific items are in stock.
The Wall Street Journal chatbot makes it easy to stay on top of big news and stock quotes with Facebook Messenger. You can also customize alerts - simply type in some basic commands and you can get company information, key financial metrics, and live stock quotes, along with the latest news posts.
Pizza Hut customers can easily order pizza for delivery or carryout from Facebook Messenger or Twitter. Customers can also reorder their favorite pizzas, ask questions, and see current deals.
As you can see, there's a heap of ways to utilize chatbots, and the usage numbers don't lie. They might not have taken over just yet, but more people are becoming more aware of their uses - and more brands are tapping into that opportunity.
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