The first is 'what is the best chatbot'? I tried to answer this question for 2016. Hard one to pick, if I am honest, as there are so many categories. But there it is.
The second is 'which companies are using chatbots'?
To answer this, I thought I'd give ten examples of companies using chatbots. I will also complete this article with thoughts on why these companies rock -- no matter what.
Skip to the bottom of the article if you'd like to read my opinion piece.
Ten companies using chatbots
How did I pick them?
Quite frankly, there are now lots of companies using chatbots (we've helped a little bit, yay for ubisend!). I decided to pick known companies, for a very good reason.
I believe most of you readers are here to discover chatbots and play with them; better get some good ones! Some of you are also here to figure out if this is all a silly trend or if some big guns are actually investing in chatbots.
The big guns are. Get in.
Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ, for the cool kids) was one of the first publishers to release a chatbot. They've iterated quite a lot since the first inception.
What you'll find today is a simple Facebook Messenger bot. It delivers the news (duh) and also scrapes content based on your input. If you were to enter 'Dow Jones', it would get back to you with a selection of news events related to the Dow Jones.
TheScore's chatbot does what you'd expect a sports news chatbot would do. You get to follow your favourite team and get an alert every time something happens with them.
(This is making me hungry)
TacoBell's chatbot lives on Slack. It allows your team to place yummy orders straight from their desk. Worth noting that this bot is still in beta so you may have to wait a little bit to experience the awesomeness.
One of the most talked about chatbots, Domino's doesn't disappoint. It does exactly what you want it to do: makes ordering pizzas easy.
One cool thing you may not know? You can now place your orders straight from Alexa Echo!
The guys at eBay iterated on their bot quite a lot. At the moment of writing this, you can use their chatbot, the eBay ShopBot, to find the best deals.
Let's say you wanted to find the best deals on 4K HD TVs. Boom, there it is.
The H&M bot lives on Kik and helps you with your fashion sense. Tell it what you own and it will tell you what goes with it.
It's a great chatbot use case and I am sure it helps a lot of people who, like me, struggle with fashion (or even colour matching).
The Subway bot, once again, allows you to order your favourite sandwiches from the comfort of your smartphone. The only downside I have found with this one is the lack of locations.
I can't order from our Norwich office. I have to go there and talk to... people? Eek. Anyway, give it a try!
Erica does a great job at giving you financial advice based on your spending habits. It is available to Bank of America customers only, of course.
Last but not least, Skyscanner. Skyscanner's bot allows you to browse for the best flight deals. You can use it via Messenger, of course, but also Alexa and Skype.
Why companies using chatbots rock
Here's my 2c on these large companies taking the chatbot plunge: they eff'ing rock.
I believe conversational companies will win in the long run. The future is conversational. The future is chatbots. Businesses that start early are getting the best end of the deal.
They get a leg start on their competitors. Reminder: 80% of businesses will have a chatbot automation in place by 2020 (source and more). No one likes to play catch up.
They get to delight their customers faster and better than their competitors. Reminder: 35% of consumers want more businesses to offer chatbot options (source). This number is only going to grow.
They get to test, learn, and adapt early. By the time their competitors try to play catch up, they will have a clear understanding of their goals, what works for them, and what to keep on doing to grow.