Feb 13, 2018

Chatbots & CX: How 6 Brands Use Them Effectively

by Digital Marketing Institute

According to new research, the global chatbot market is expected to reach $1.23 billion by 2025. This growth is due to the fact that nearly half of consumers prefer communicating with chatbots for customer service inquiries and has prompted CMOs to ramp up the use of chatbots by 2020.

As AI-powered computer programs, chatbots are capable of conducting human-like conversations via text and audio platforms. These bots have proven to significantly improve engagement by allowing businesses to provide a consistent customer experience across platforms; something that’s expected by 75% of today’s consumers.

The key to a successful chatbot is striking the balance between conversational, friendly, and helpful. To get an idea of how chatbots can enhance customer experience, we explore six leading brands using them effectively.

1. Sephora

Sephora chatbot

As one of the first in the retail sector to use chatbots, Sephora are keen to use technology to improve customer experience and service. After the success of a basic app - through Kik, the messaging app - they introduced additional features that make interactions with their brand even easier at home and in-store.

Two services - Sephora Reservation Assistant and Sephora Color Match - focus on key areas of the customer experience. The first enables customers to make appointments with beauty specialists seamlessly by sending a message to the chatbot. Through the smart learning capabilities, the chatbot can understand the language used by the customer to make the interaction even easier.

The second, Color Match uses augmented reality to help consumers select colors. The user simply holds a camera to an image or face and a shade will be identified using an algorithm from Sephora’s line of products. It can also be used to match cosmetics with an outfit.

“We’re excited to leverage the Messenger platform to create quick and natural conversational interactions that are client-led. This allows us to provide richer, more varied conversations that ensure clients get exactly what they want out of the experience,” Mary Beth Laughton, Senior VP of Digital

2. Duolingo

Duolingo chatbot

Duolingo is a language-learning platform that consists of a website and an app, and most recently, a chatbot. According to its Co-Founder, Luis von Ahn, one of the major impediments to learning a new language is that people don’t want to sound stupid and this new chatbot could change all that.

The success of the bot is based on the premise that when learning a new language, one of the best ways to master it is through conversation. With over 150 million users, the Duolingo bot helps people practice speaking in a conversational way without fear of embarrassment or judgment.

Using a playful and cheerful design, the bots allow users to converse with a bot and practice their language skills without the pressure of talking to a live person. Due to the automation of the software, the bot can respond to new dialogs quickly and it can learn new ways to say phrases such as ‘what’s going on?’ instead of the standard ‘hello’ and recognize them. It also rolls out conversations that are topical and seasonal to help the bot become more responsive and human-like.

3. Starbucks

Starbucks chatbot

In a competitive market like coffee, new ways to make the process of ordering easier is key to standing out from the crowd - even for such a well known brand as Starbucks.

Keen to make ordering as easy as possible, Starbucks introduced a chatbot that operated via its MyBarista app where you can order by voice through Amazon Alexa or messaging. Along with allowing customers to remain in the comfort of their homes right up until their brew is ready (the bot messages you when the order is ready for pickup), barista bot also allows payment and tipping, meaning all a customer needs to do is show up.

In addition, the chatbot will enable loyal customers to place multiple and specific orders and due to its ability to learn, can gauge customer preferences and habits based on previous orders.

5. Domino's

Dom chatbot

Keen to utilize on the power of chatbot technology Domino’s took customer service one step further when they introduced Dom, a pizza ordering bot that allowed customers to order directly through Facebook Messenger.

The advantage of the bot is that it allows one-off and repeat customers to order without having to create an account or profile, and without even leaving the comfort of their favorite app.

Although Dom wasn’t Domino’s first foray into ordering bots, it was the first that didn’t require an account and the first that enabled customers to order from the full restaurant menu. To capitalize on this new ‘employee’ the brand launched the bot in anticipation of a Super Bowl weekend, freeing up phone lines and keeping their website running smoothly during one of their busiest days of the year.

“We want to make ordering our freshly handmade pizza as easy as possible so we’re always on the look-out for new ways in which we can do this. Just message ‘pizza’ — or send an emoji. It really couldn’t be easier.” - Nick Dutch, Head of Digital

6. HealthJoy

HealthJoy bot

HealthJoy is a chat-based app that lets employees manage their own healthcare benefits by combining a team of doctors, insurance experts and the chatbot Joy.

The main function of the bot is to explain individual benefits and providers to users, to provide different healthcare options, and to lower health insurance costs for companies by directing users to higher quality care that’s also less expensive. The bot is supported by a team of professionals who can also help users with contacting doctors, booking appointments, and more.

One of the major benefits of Joy is that the bot puts users in charge of their own healthcare decisions by providing information, connecting them with healthcare and insurance specialists, and creating tailored treatment and prescription recommendations. Not only do the users benefit from this increased power and autonomy over their own wellbeing, but employers also reap the rewards in the form of lower claims and lower insurance costs.

Chatbots have a wide range of applications in many different sectors and its use is growing across industries. One of their main advantages is that they can enhance the customer experience and as a result increase brand recognition, improving loyalty and drive conversions.

However, in order for a bot to be effective, it must be able to enhance customer experience and service and have the ability to learn with each conversation to personalize the experience. Care is also needed to ensure the bot reflects the brand and is personable without being invasive or creepy.

As the use of chatbots continues to grow, now is the time to investigate how the technology could be used within your business to save time and money.

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