Chatbots are making serious waves in the marketing scene.
And if your business hasn’t at least thought about what one could do for you – don’t worry: I’ve got you covered.
In this post, I’m breaking down the best examples by industry, and how they can benefit multiple types of businesses.
What Are They?
It is software you put on your website or hook up to a social media site such as Facebook that automates the conversation experience. Using a set of rules and predefined text, it will respond to users and channel them to a determined destination.
What We’ll Cover:
Even if you haven’t built your own yet, you’ve likely interacted with one before.
Whether it was via Facebook Messenger or on a brand’s website, they are quickly becoming the new norm when it comes to customer service and interaction.
Part of that is due to the prevalence of AI (artificial intelligence).
New advances in AI mean that automating everyday tasks like customer service inquiries is easier than ever.
And the benefit isn’t just to brands. Customers like it too.
They like how easy it is to click on a box and have a natural conversation right on a website. They don’t have to send an email and wait for a reply or, worse yet, make a dreaded phone call.
Instead, they can get help instantaneously. Because many of these chatbot examples we’ll cover are powered by AI, they’re constantly learning from conversations they have with customers.
Which means they’re getting smarter each time they interact, and can essentially perform all the tasks and answer all the questions that an actual human could.
Due to advances like Google’s Natural Language API, it doesn’t even feel like you’re talking to a bot.
It also doesn’t hurt that because they’re bots, they’re available 24/7. In fact, in a recent survey, 64% of respondents said the “24-hour service” is a huge benefit.
Another cool thing? They have a universal appeal.
That same survey found that they are equally popular among millennials and baby boomers.
So if you’re thinking you can avoid the bot craze because you cater to an older clientele, think again.
But many brands are still unsure about how they can into their strategy.
So I’m breaking it down by industry, with examples to show you just what these things are capable of.
Travel & Hospitality Industry
We already know that AI is going to be a game-changer for hospitality.
Because it’s an industry with such a tight focus on customer service, it only makes sense that the two go hand-in-hand.
The best chatbots can simplify booking and travel arrangements, provide real-time concierge-like services to guests, and troubleshoot any issues regarding directions, documents, and trip organization.
It also helps that easy accessibility is a huge convenience to travelers on the go.
Of course, hospitality is a broad industry, encompassing everything from transportation to restaurants. But chatbots are excelling at all of them.
Here are a few examples in the hospitality industry to get you started:
Hotel Example: Marriott
As far as hotels go, no one can compare to Marriott. In my opinion, they have one of the best by far.
Their boutique brand Aloft Hotels recently introduced the ChatBotler, available to guests through text message.
Using it, guests can request basic hotel services, and it essentially acts as an in-phone concierge. This cuts out the middleman and enables requests to be met quickly and efficiently.
Hotel guests can text to request services, information about the hotel, listen to the brand’s playlist, and connect with the front desk team during their stay. They can even do all of these things when they are not on hotel property.
And it’s working: early studies show that 2 out of 3 Aloft guests are interacting with the ChatBotler.
Outside of that, Marriott Rewards members can interact with it on Facebook Messenger and Slack to research and book travel at more than 4,700 hotels.
Key Takeaways: When it comes to hotels, these chatbots are all about guest services.
Whether it’s checking in and out or providing services and travel recommendations throughout a stay, hotels should be looking for ways to leverage the software in addition to typical front desk and concierge services.
Hotel Must-Have Features:
Not every hotel is a Marriot chain, but each should offer the following basic services:
- Room availability
- Guest reservations
- Connect to the front desk agent or concierge from the room
Travel Example: CheapFlights
As far as travel, CheapFlights provides a great experience to its users.
If you’ve ever booked travel through a larger aggregator site like Expedia or SkyScanner, you know the drill.
Enter your dates and shift through various options. Pretty easy, all things considered.
But chatbots can make that process even easier.
Take a look at this example scenario by Cheapflights:
You specify your parameters and price range, and it will return the best option. No need to look through results.
So naturally, booking is a must in any travel bot.
But Cheapflights takes it up a notch.
Cheapflights Chat was the first Facebook Messenger incorporated the software for flight and hotel search. The company launched it with the goals of highlighting Cheapflights’ commitment to innovation and creating products users love while supporting the brand’s purpose “Smart search. Made simple.”
To do that, they put emphasis on natural, conversational language by including an “Inspire Me” feature and engaging responses to things like “I want to go to the moon”, “Are you real?” and “I love you.”
To drum up engagement, they launched the bot with a competition-led social media campaign. This puts the company on a whole different level and is the main reason why they have one of the best in the travel market.
Key Takeaways: Bring your brand’s strengths to your chatbot.
If you’re known for a fun-loving, engaging brand voice, that should translate to your bot. And if convenience is your priority – as it often is in the travel industry – run plenty of tests to make sure yours is hassle-free.
Also, look for ways you can rise above the norm like in the conversation example mentioned above.
All travel brands will offer easy booking, so think about ways you can enhance the experience like Cheapflights does with its “Inspire me” feature.
All travel chatbots should try to reach the following functionality and include the following:
- Available times and dates on location command (fly to NY from San Diego)
- Sort by price and time
- Book through the app or take user to booking site
Restaurant Example: Dominos
So, who has the best when it comes to restaurant marketing? I’m going with Dominos.
Dominos is a pizza joint that prides itself on being the king of convenience, and it brings that title through to its chatbot, “Dom.”
It began with the legendary pizza emoji text, allowing users with a Domino’s profile and saved pizza preferences to simply send the emoji or the word PIZZA to their bot, and they’d get a pizza delivered to their door.
How much simpler can ordering a pizza get? Not much, but they somehow managed to do it.
Then, in 2017, it introduced its full menu to the bot, so users could customize their orders as they like.
And to take it even further, it’s even enabling Dom to take phone orders.
Using AI-powered voice-recognition system, it can take telephone calls and even answer questions when customers call to check on the status of their order.
Domino’s Chief Digital Officer says this new Dom ability is “freeing up our store team members to focus on preparing orders and serving customers already in the lobby.”
It’s not surprising that Dominos is one of the first to integrate this technology; after all, Dom was the pioneer in the pizza and takeout industry.
Key Takeaways: Get ahead of the game.
Don’t be afraid to integrate and experiment with new technologies – no matter what your industry.
The best and longest-lasting companies are those that stay ahead of the curve and are ready to offer new technology and solutions before consumers even realize they need them.
The best restaurant examples have the ability to:
Remember shopping assistants? Those lovely people who’s catered to all your shopping needs, finding your size and providing on-point suggestions?
You don’t see too many of them these days.
Especially given the rise of online shopping, the retail experience is moving towards becoming completely digital.
But retail, much like hospitality, is still an industry geared towards customer service.
So even if people don’t want to physically shop or speak to people, they still want assistance when finding the right section, size, or style.
And that’s exactly where chatbots come in.
Companies that use bots can provide the same kind of tailored experience by helping customers find what they need, cross-sell purchases, and provide ideas and inspiration.
And, while it may seem that they’re more beneficial to e-commerce companies, even brick-and-mortar businesses are finding them useful.
They can be used most easily on websites and Facebook Messenger, and most physical stores do have an online presence these days.
But beyond that, brands can learn from mobile bots like Mall of America’s Pepper.
Pepper can give customers directions, answer inquiries on deals, gift recommendations, recommend the mall’s top brands and gift items, etc.
Now, obviously this is a bit advanced, but it’s a great example of what a bot can do for a mall or big-box store.
Most retailers, however, will be closer to the next examples.
Retail Example: Sephora
Makeups resident retail giant Sephora is a great example of what a chatbot can do for your brand.
Available on Kik and Facebook Messenger, Sephora built one that not only helps customers shop and purchase products but also provides inspiration and help.
Like most bots, it provides a one-to-one chat interface, as well as makeup tips, video clips, and makeup tutorials.
They can also help users find any products used in that tutorial and suggest top-rated products in any category.
If users are in-store, they can type in any product and instantly pull the product page and reviews (and even make purchases directly in the app).
The coolest part? Sephora personalizes the experience.
When launched, the app asks you to take a short quiz so it can better personalize product recommendations. This means that customers don’t have to waste time going through products that aren’t relevant to their needs.
For example, a customer who has dry skin might not want to look at products for acne.
Key Takeaways: Pay attention to what your customers need.
It’s not always as simple as finding the right size or store location. Instead, try thinking of the customer questions you receive the most, and how you can build the answers into your experience.
As for retail, a good example should offer the following basic capabilities:
- Find available size, color, and pricing information
- Order online functionality
- Have a store or item locator
When it comes to balancing finances and managing bills, it can be a struggle to find the best solutions to your needs or navigate a numbers-and policy-heavy website.
It’s an industry that isn’t necessarily geared towards customer service but could definitely benefit from it.
No surprise here: this is where a chatbot come in.
You’ve seen app incarnations like Mint and Simple pop up to help people keep their finances on track, and those are exactly the kind of services that translate well.
But banks can provide a benefit to their customers by implementing the technology.
In the banking industry they can reduce wait times for solving issues with accounts and transactions, provide information on a bank’s services, and help plan long-term goals like buying a house or setting up a college fund.
The issue with banks and bots is that banks handle very sensitive information, and consumers are often hesitant to share that information.
But your bot doesn’t have to be a full-service bank, and in this case, it’s encouraged that you start small.
Take Bank of America, for example
Banking Example: Bank of America
Bank of America only recently began to roll out its newest addition to the team: Erica, their resident bot.
In her first 3 months, Erica’s racked up 1 million users.
It started with a small rollout in Rhode Island, before expanding to eight more states the next month and becoming available to all users in June 2017.
Reportedly, customers mostly use this chatbot for looking up transactions (users can search for specific transactions in the bot).
But the bot can also give you information on credit scores, integrate with the bank’s spending and budget tools, and connect users directly with an agent.
And there’s more to come from Erica.
Soon, customers will be told when their bills are due (and if their balance can cover those bills), if a subscription is expiring, and if their credit score has dropped.
One thing to remember here: even in a professional institution like banking, people are still interacting as they would in normal interaction.
That means bots need to be familiar with slang (think ‘dough’ as a synonym to cash) and be able to keep up.
Key Takeaways: Again, start slow.
Especially in an industry like banking, make sure you’ve worked out most of the kinks before releasing it to the majority of customers.
Also, always remember that they need to be programmed for natural language. That means slang and questionable grammar, even if you wouldn’t normally incorporate those trends in your business messaging.
This will vary depending on the type of banking institution; but as an outline, try offering the following:
The healthcare industry has a pretty innovative opportunity to capitalize on the software.
There’s been renewed interest in health and wellness beyond the regular doctor/dentist visits. Now, people are looking for information regarding supplements, natural remedies, physical activities, and exercises, etc.
But they’re all focused on one thing: the unique and personal needs of each customer.
For example, look at the rise of mental health apps.
Meditation and mindfulness training apps are a dime a dozen these days, but a proficient chatbot can go a step further by personalizing the user experience based on an individual user’s unique health needs.
From initial diagnosis to possible remedies and even medication reminders, they can dig a lot further than an app.
In the future, it’s likely that these bots will be the initial point of contact between patients and physicians, and that people will turn to bots first with any health questions or concerns.
They’re also commonly being used for mental health check-ins, from talk therapy to daily reformations for those who don’t have a regular counselor on call.
Healthcare Example: Babylon Health
British online subscription service Babylon Health has broken into the scene in a big way.
The bot is one of the best available in the industry. It features AI consultation based on personal medical history, and can even connect you with a live video consultation from a doctor.
When you first sign up, you’ll tell the bot your symptoms. It will then check them against its database and provide you with next steps and possible causes.
So, if you have a headache, it might ask if you recently injured your head, have any dizziness, and ask you to rate your pain.
Think of it as the more modern, more personal Web MD.
Key Takeaways: Always be thinking about how to personalize the experience of your bots.
While a bot should never replace a physician, it should be able to ask relevant questions to personalize the experience for each user.
But also remember, personalization doesn’t have to be so advanced.
Simply keeping client’s records is a great step at streamlining your healthcare brand’s customer service. Allowing clients to easily book appointments and providing them with appointment reminders are simpler functions that most healthcare providers can easily adopt.
Healthcare providers should include the following features:
Real Estate Industry
Real estate agents deal with a ton of customer inquiries – everything from available listings, pricing information, location, neighborhood standards, and more.
And while they won’t replace an agent’s role, it can help streamline the initial process.
At its simplest, a chatbot can be used to collect contact information, provide available listings, and book viewings.
As you get more advanced, they can be used to show off property videos, answer questions, and find suitable properties based on a user’s specific needs by asking questions related to price range, desired location, number of beds and baths, etc.
Real Estate Example: Structurely
Structurely’s bot, Holmes, is a great example because it uses AI to answer customer’s questions in real-time.
Holmes personalizes the experience by asking a series of smart questions to determine a user’s ideal property.
Users can ask it to send them home updates about the peak buying times are in certain areas, and it can even identify ideal listings based on features from other homes.
In this conversation example, Holmes returns a related property based on the kitchen from another property.
Key takeaways: While your business doesn’t have to go as far as Holmes, loading your bot with a series of personalized questions will help you return more appropriate results and collect valuable information about your leads.
Real Estate Must-Haves:
All real estate chatbots should offer a way to:
- Browse available listings
- Book viewings
- Submit contact info for follow-up
- Collect information regarding users’ ideal location, the number of beds, bathrooms, price range, etc.
1. What’s the maximum chat volume that a bot can manage?
During after-business hours, they can handle 100% of all conversations.
However, during business hours, it can be used to handle simple inquiries and to get customers speaking with the correct representative if necessary.
2. Are there any security concerns?
Not any more than are typically experienced with online technology.
As of now, it isn’t any less secure than other online platforms.
3. What is smart routing?
As previously touched on, a chatbot can be used to get a customer speaking directly with a live representative. Smart routing is an easy way to do that.
This type of system uses keyword triggers to guide the customer to the right department before connecting them with a customer service representative.
No matter what your industry, you can benefit from looking into these examples.
Though not an exhaustive list, the above will give you an idea of the kinds of things these bots are capable of in each industry, and what you should be offering customers as you start building your own.