Friday, 15 December 2017

Innovative Examples of Brands Using Chatbots

A chatbot in the simplest of words can be explained as 'something' that is offering an opportunity to brands to engage with consumers directly on a personal level. And, that 'something' is from the world of AI (Artificial Intelligence). So, when we are interacting with a brand, the representative from the brand's side answering us is not a human but a chatbot. Training a bot is not so easy and brands are taking time and effort to invest in this technology.

Today, hundreds of brands have ventured into chatbots from various industries like food & alcohol, banking & finance, travel, entertainment, beauty &clothing, news & media, sports, social sector and health & fitness. I checked out many bots, read about few like CNN, NBC, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Domino's, Whole Foods, Burger King, Burberry, Nordstorm, Armani, Nike, NBA, KLM, Ebay,, Unicef and the list goes on.

But what makes some brands and their chatbots stand-out is their 'creativity' and 'innovation' in their product offering to the end consumer. I have curated some really cool bots around us:
  1. Starbucks - Chatbot is inside the app which takes orders via voice ore text, tells you the time when the order will be ready and price of your order. It was launched in Jan this year. See how it works.
  2.  Sephora - It is on KiK (messenger app) which offers personal assistant for products reviews, makeup tutorials and in-shop buying assistance too. It is one of the smartest chatbots around. Watch for yourself. Also, they have launched couple of more bots this year to suit your requirement. I just loved how popular it has become over here in the US.
  3. Lyft - FB Messenger based chatbot which allows you to request a ride via your chat. In return, if the request is accepted, current location of the driver, car model and number plate's picture will be shared with you. Is it something different than the app, probably no, but it is just adding one more way to market itself and become accessible.
  4. Whole Foods - What I really liked about this chatbot was the simplicity yet a very new and cute way to interact. Simple because it only provides you the recipes and cute because you can put an emoji of the food and text your dietery restrictions and available choices at home.
  5. Whole Foods ChatBot
  6. Victoria Secret - This chatbot replies with lot of fun and not just mechanical bot answers. It is KiK based and it helps in finding the right size, various combinations, what is in these days and also helps in shopping as per your style 
    Victoria Secret Pink Bot
  7. - No, no, this is not just your regular service industry chatbot but a personal assistant who will challenge you to play a game and every win will be rewarded with a discount coupon or a hotel voucher. It is an FB messenger based bot and I found the concept really innovative. Extra brownie points for this one, do you agree with me? 
  8. Diageo - It offers a personal bartender which caters to all your home bar-tending needs (recipes of cocktails) with the available ingredients. It is FB messenger based app. 
  9. The Wall Street Journal - Again an FB messenger based app that provides you with top big news, analyses stock quotes, customizes the alerts at your given time, compare the quotes for you.
  10. Pizza Hut - It is FB messenger based app that takes the order, reorder basis your previous orders and provides you with current deals. Domino's also provides with all the above details and also provides the status of your order.
  11. HM - They are big on social media and also very popular with their KiK based bot. It provides you with personal stylist, helps you with outfits, shares with you current styles and inspirations for the outfits.
The other bots that I liked were Master Card, Harper Collins and Macy's. They came very early but have not innovated much in their offering.
In the above examples that I have listed, I have focused on innovation or creativity or popularity. I would like to repeat that it is not easy to train a bot because after a while queries become complicated. By bringing newness, fun and engagement in the chatbot, brands are investing a lot of time, money and resources in AI. 

I also read a beautiful statement which clearly defines and sums-up the need of chatbots in today's world - "We are living in the ‘expectation economy’ where consumers expect to have information at their fingertips, and we want to keep innovating to meet our customers where they are" Jeff Jenkins, global executive of digital strategy and marketing at Whole Foods Market.

I would love to hear your thoughts or suggestions!

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Reviewing The Social Media Updates Of 2017

We have some fantastic updates coming from Twitter and Instagram this week, as the year is about to end. So, sharing with you, my top four picks on the 'updates that took place in 2017 in social media'.

  1. Facebook Messenger Chatbots / Other app based Chatbots: Customer's interaction with the brands has become very easy via chatbots. They are now used extensively and have been efficient in reducing the gap of timely human to human interaction. One of the example of my recent interaction was with the Starbucks chatbot, which is taking the order, informing when it is ready, the price and the payment options and then customizing the content according to preference for the next time. I don't know currently how chatbots will impact the employment rate in the future, because it does reduce the human intervention in all the processes. 
  2. Whatsapp for Businesses: Whatsapp rolled out 'Whatsapp for Businesses' this year which has now become a strong marketing tool for many organisations, especially in the service industry. Promotions, customer service, reservations/orders, direct communication with the individual customer, feedback management and many more tactics are being executed using the simple app.
  3. Twitter Threads: Twitter rolled out this feature to post bunch of connected tweets at one time. The person has to click on '+' after the first tweet to thread the second and more tweets together. It is being reffered as tweetstorm because people can now post longer tweets than Twitter’s already-extended 280-character limit. Only time will tell whether it will be easy for brands and users to communicate or will it add to more confusion?
  4. Instagram 'Follow Hashtags': As they say, save the best for the last, and this is one of the best updates from Instagram in 2017. It was very difficult to search the popular hashtags everyday, see the curated content and monitor it. With this feature, you get the content of a particular followed hashtag in your feed. With this, my trust in organic reach and engagement is restored otherwise the only way to succeed on social was the paid way! More likes, more comments but less follows on the account, is what, I foresee in future with this update. 
These features/updates/trends highlighted above really stood out for me because all of them spoke one marketing mantra - 'Keep it simple, stupid'. And, they definitely are making it very simple for brands and consumers to engage with each other.