Chatbots have had quite the year. Bots can order a personal pizza, book a flight to anywhere, stir up a cocktail recipe, ship last-minute holiday gifts, memorialize dead relatives and bring back infamous “Friends” characters, register voters to vote or get a new driver’s license and help check your bank account. They can even incite a giggle during the conversation.
“Yahoo’s decision to eliminate its travel assistant bot speaks more to their overall business concerns at this time than the market for chatbots,” said David Horton, managing director of innovation at Synechron. “As they deal with the aftermath of their recent hacks and the uncertainty of their acquisition by Verizon going through, it would be difficult to successfully roll out a new offering.”
Horton said that, as a whole, the market is ready for this type of technology, and many financial and tech firms, service companies and consumers are already using it.
In fact, some experts said 2017 will be the “Year of the Chatbot,” and yet, others aren’t too sure. Reason being, 2016 was such a great year for chatbots.
Here are a few great chatbots and why experts said they’re so great:
“This chatbot really utilizes intelligent messages. The bot first asks users their location and to select their favorite NFL team. After that, users don’t actually hear from the bot again until two hours before their selected team is about to kick off. Then, the bot reminds users that their team is team is going to play. It also empowers users to order Bud Light and have it delivered to their front door in under an hour — right within the chat,” said Jonathan Shriftman, director of BD, Snaps.
“Santander U.K. is currently using chatbots to enhance their customer experience interactions. The bank has allowed a select group of account holders to ask questions via the Santander SmartBank App to pull transactions and understand charges using voice commands. This is indicative of the self-serve, mobile-enabled and conversational customer experiences that individuals want from banks,” said Horton at Synechron.
“Burberry was the first luxury retail brand to launch a chatbot experience. The bot showcased the brand’s newest runway items from London Fashion Week, allowing fashion aficionados to watch the show live and learn more about the collection. Most interestingly, at least from a content perspective, the bot used guided reply interactions to takes users through a bot maze. Along the way, users were able to see images of the new fashion collection. Though Fashion Week is over, Burberry still has its own chatbot — currently timed to the holiday season. Regardless of the theme, customers can shop their favorite looks, and there are plenty of opportunities to make a purchase. Burberry has always been a digital thought leader among luxury brands. The brand’s strategy is one that consistently engages its users creatively, keeps Burberry top-of-mind as seasons change and provides unique ways for customers to shop,” said Shriftman at Snaps.
“Maya — the chatbot service from Lemonade — is a perfect example of how the technology can create wonderful, intuitive customer experiences,” said Horton at Synechron.
“Visabot is an immigration attorney bot that helps users understand American immigration laws and even to apply for the right visa, based on their history, personal background and CV. The bot actually ensures that people fill out forms accurately to help them earn citizenship in the U.S.,” said Shriftman at Snaps.
“Synechron is also working with financial services firms to incorporate chatbots into their businesses to solve trading, banking and insurance challenges. Our bots are customized for our clients to bring together chatbots and NLP with an understanding of firm’s business operations,” said Horton at Synechron.
Whether bots are going to have their big year next year remains to be seen. But 2016 certainly has been a year in the books for the bots.