A main interacting with a robot in the street.
Chatbots examples from some of the biggest brands. PHOTO: Shutterstock

Back in 2016, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said that “chatbots are the new apps,” and ever since then, big name brands have steadily absorbed or borrowed chatbot technology to bolster their stacks. Chatbots are rapidly moving away from being quirky customer service extras to necessary dimensions of the customer journey. Here is a look at how some of the biggest brands are using chatbots to improve the customer experience and reduce workloads.

1. WholeFoods

Now a part of the Amazon empire, WholeFoods’ Facebook Messenger chatbot helps users find recipes — the ingredients of which are all conveniently sold by WholeFoods.

You can tell their chatbot that you feel like a soup this evening, the chatbot will respond with some easy-to-make soup recipes. If you can’t decide, you can give the WholeFoods chatbot some details about your dietary restrictions and flavor preferences, and it will provide you with some relevant options.

2. H&M

Recent controversies aside, H&M has cultivated a very fashion-wise chatbot. It’s available via the Kik messaging app, and the chatbot starts off each conversation with two images of whatever piece of clothing you need. So, if you need an overcoat, the chatbot serves you with two overcoat images, asking you to choose your favorite.

From there, it refines your taste and gives you overcoat recommendations based on your choices. It can then push forward, helping you to build a whole outfit made up of different clothing types. H&M claim that their chatbot can handle, “anything you wish from joggers and jeans to tops and shirts.”

3. Microsoft

After the disaster that was ‘Tay’ — Microsoft’s first public foray into the chatbot market which ended up spouting racist remarks — the tech giant is back, with ‘Zo’.

Zo is a chatbot that wants to be your friend. You can talk to Zo via Kik, Facebook Messenger or Groupme about pretty much anything you want. It uses machine learning to learn from every interaction and uses its growing digital brain to chat casually, play games, tell jokes and maybe even have a deep conversation.

4. TransferWise

Not all chatbots are built for chatting. TransferWise, the growing PayPal competitor, has released a chatbot that enables you to send money around the world by answering four simple questions. At the time of writing, money can be sent between people in the UK, US, Canada, Australia, and Europe.

It’s nothing fancy, but secure peer-to-peer payment-via-chatbot is a notable milestone in the enterprise chatbot space.

5. Baidu

The Chinese search engine giant has released a chatbot to help streamline China’s healthcare system. The AI-powered chatbot is called Melody, and it’s a conversational bot designed to provide relevant information to doctors to assist with recommendations and treatment options. Andrew Ng, Chief Scientist at Baidu, said via the Baidu website that Melody is designed to “help both doctors and patients. By focusing on the medical-assistant vertical, we’ve built a conversational bot that can give highly-customized and situation-appropriate responses to a patient’s query.”

6. DuoLingo

While some chatbots facilitate conversions and data exchanges, DuoLingo’s chatbot is helping users learn new languages without fear of failure. The benefit of the chatbot can be summarized like this, learning a new language by yourself is tough because you’ll lack conversational experience. But learning from somebody else can be nerve-racking for some people. DuoLingo’s chatbot is designed to give users the opportunity to converse in another language, without the fear of making mistakes or mispronouncing words. After all, chatbots don’t judge!

7. Sephora

Makeup retailer Sephora also has a chatbot, and it gives Kik users emoji-laced makeup tips and reviews. Their chatbot personalizes its responses to each user by offering a short quiz that helps the bot “get to know” the user. It asks about your age, makeup brand preferences, and product types you love most. From there, it can tailor its responses to questions like, “What's the best way to contour?”

8. Transport For London

Transport For London (TFL) has also jumped on the chatbot bandwagon, releasing a Facebook Messenger chatbot that helps users plan journeys across England’s capital, track live bus arrival times and check the status of London’s famously busy underground lines.

This is a short list, chatbots are popping up everywhere and as AI and machine learning become more mainstream the trend will is expected to continue. Have you come across any innovative enterprise chatbot? How was the experience? Please share your experience in the comments or on social media.