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 which are using bots to great effect.
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.
4. Whole Foods
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.
8. The Wall Street Journal
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.
9. Pizza Hut
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.
A version of this post was first published on Inc.com.