Lots of companies are making the jump into the world of chatbots, using these computer-driven agents to provide customer support and service without having to tie up human labor in the process. And now we’re also starting to see companies use chatbots on the sales side of things. We’ve put together a list of five companies we’ve seen using chatbots in new and interesting ways.
Ordering your Pumpkin Spice Latte at the counter is so 2015. Ordering via a few taps from your mobile phone? So 2018. Starbucks is using the present day to jump headfirst into the world of chatbots, starting with its app (which, interestingly enough, isn’t just available for iOS and Android, but Windows Phone, too!).
When you open the Starbucks mobile app, you can interact with the company’s chatbot in one of two ways — via text, as you would in a text-based chat application, or via voice. From there, you have a number of tasks you can accomplish. You can place your order if you already know what you want. You can receive a message from the bot when your order is ready. And because the chatbot wants to be super helpful, it’ll even give you your order total so you know how much to pay when you walk up to snag your drink. You’ll likely see more capability added to the Starbucks chatbot as the company dreams up new ways it can serve you (and as the company introduces new products and services).
Are you a movie fan? The way we interact with movie theaters isn’t quite the way we search for something online. There is no centralized search engine that everyone floats to (I’m looking at you, Google). Instead, we may use one app or website to see which movies are popular. We may use another to figure out what’s playing in the area. We could use another one entirely to book tickets — that is, if we don’t just walk up to the theater and buy them there.
Fandango is looking to be a one-stop shop for movie fans who want to accomplish all of that, and it’s using a chatbot to provide a seamless experience to help you get all your movie-related tasks finished. Fandango uses a Facebook Messenger chatbot (a trend you’ll continue to see in this list). The bot can tell you which movies are currently out in theaters. It can tell you which theaters are closest to you, if you ask. Want to see what everyone else is seeing? You can ask Fandango’s chatbot which movies are trending. And if you decide you want to buy tickets right away, Fandango can conveniently send you a link to the appropriate website. It’s like having a ticket counter worker right in your pocket.
Post-Amazon-acquisition, Whole Foods has actually brought a lot of its prices down, shaking that “Whole Paycheck” nickname it carried since its inception. Now that more people are walking through the doors at this popular grocer, the company is using a Facebook Messenger chatbot to make finding the ingredients people want easier than ever.
Shoppers can use the chatbot to ask for recipes and to find where products are positioned in the store. Not only that, the kids will find the Whole Foods chatbot extra fun, as searches can be performed using EMOJI. Yes, emojis. Drop a banana emoji into the Facebook Messenger chat, and the chatbot can point you in the right direction and give you some examples of popular recipes that include bananas. And if you have a special dietary restriction, the chatbot can also take that into account and help you find foods and meals that leave a particular ingredient out.
With credit cards, you don’t quite get the person-to-person experience you might get with a bank teller. You’re spending money most of the time, not depositing it, so you don’t get many opportunities to inquire about your balance or anything else you might want to know as you perform a lot of actions on a website. Mastercard is introducing a more personal touch to customer financial interactions with a chatbot which uses, you guessed it, Facebook Messenger.
Hop into a chat with the Mastercard chatbot and you can ask for a list of your most recent transactions. But you’re not limited to account-related inquiries. Using the chatbot, you can make purchases from a number of Mastercard-partnered retailers, which offers a bit more variety than some of the single-store implementations we’ve mentioned from other companies.
Pizza Hut has always pushed the envelope when it comes to tapping into new technology. In this instance, the cheesy-dough pusher offers a chatbot on two different platforms: Facebook Messenger (because everyone is doing it) and… Twitter! Yes, Twitter can be used to interact with Pizza Hut’s chatbot, too. What can you do while chatting with Pizza Hut’s AI sales rep?
For starters, you can ask about items on the restaurant’s menu, along with any other questions you may have about the ordering process. And the chatbot can helpfully tell you about any available deals you have access to in your area. Of course, this chatbot just wouldn’t be doing its job if you couldn’t order from it, and fortunately, Pizza Hut’s bot makes it easy.