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Ten interesting ways we’re using chatbots

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/Montri Nipitvittaya)

Chatbots exist to make life easier for consumers.

They save consumers time. They’re online 24/7. And if built right, they have personality.

In fact in a recent report from PWC stated 27 per cent of consumers weren’t sure if they’d just spoken to a bot or a human when interacting with a company via text or chat. The fact of the matter is – consumers do not care as long as their question is answered, now. From booking a taxi, to messaging a brands customer service, the odds are there’s a brilliant bot behind it.

There are inexhaustible possibilities for what we can do with chatbots. Not only can we super charge customer service, but also give consumers something more valuable – their time back.

Take a look at how businesses are using bots in new and exciting ways right now. And let them inspire you to set up a bot of your own.

1.       Weather updates

There are many bots out there whose sole purpose it is update you on the weather. You can ask about the current climate in your area and receive recommendations on what to wear, as well as whether you should pack an umbrella before leaving for work. Most are pretty uncomplicated, though a few are designed to be a bit more ‘fun’.

The most popular Chatbot out there at the moment is one of the ones that is a little more fun: Poncho. "A weather cat from Brooklyn. He sends you personal weather forecasts wherever you are, whenever you want them...with funny GIFs and pop culture observations rather than boring things like humidity indexes."

2.       Order food - fast

When it comes to ordering food. We just want it as quickly as possible.
This is nothing new. But as technology progresses the new and ever seamless ways we can order are constantly evolving.

You can now order via text, tweet or even as Dominos has recently introduced, via Facebook Messenger or your Amazon Alexa!

3.       Customer support 24/7

The advent of chatbots has allowed brands to provide 24/7 customer service on their social channels and/or website without the traditional financial penalty. There are also significant benefits for the consumer – no longer do customers have to spend hours navigating a nonsensical phone menu tree. Simple queries, “how much is X”, can be answered quickly by bots.
A multitude of brands have chatbots to provide customer support whether that’s on social media like AirBnB and Spotify (they have twitter bots) or on  their own sites.

KLM’s bot that exists within Facebook Messenger and offers you “a new way to receive your flight documentation” is a good example of a customer service bot done well. It handles all the simple questions we can often spend hours trying to answer and keeps you up to date on your upcoming trip.

4.       Mange your money better

Chip, Plum and Cleo – just three London based personal finance apps that launched last year. This area is really taking off, and with good reason. Chatbots can plug into your bank account, analyse your spending and then give you advice on how to cut spending and up saving. Some, in the case of Chip, even take the saving off your hands and automatically move small amounts weekly to build up that much needed ‘rainy day fund’ without you even realising.

5.       Save time

Automation means more efficiency. Chatbots are brilliant at taking care of the time-consuming yet important admin tasks. Think about the amount of time you spend emailing, texting and calling to try and fit meetings and social engagements into your calendar. Passing these tasks onto someone (or something) else would be incredibly freeing. And it is.   

My own bot Meekan by Doodle is a scheduling assistant designed to eliminate endless back and forth of scheduling meetings. In the not too distant future anything tedious and repetitive will be  delegated to a bot, leaving us with the more creative and fulfilling tasks. Simply request a new meeting and this Slack chatbot will look at everyone’s calendars to find times when everyone is available.

6.       Holiday inspiration (and booking)

In need of some holiday inspiration – there is also a chatbot for that! Kayak’s Facebook Messenger chatbot lets you search for a book travel right inside the application. The time it can save you is extraordinary. In place of trawling for the best price for flights and hotels you can simply gather all the information you need conversationally. “Where’s the best place to stay in Berlin on the 5th of December?” or “I’d like a flight to London from Paris on the 6th August in the morning” and the best options will be laid out in front of you.

7.       Find love

Unsuccessful in love? Why not let chatbots have a go.

Foxsy, a personal match making assistant on Facebook Messenger promises to help you find a “beautiful and meaningful connection with the right person.” Not only does Foxsy put in the work to help you build an interesting profile by asking you questions about yourself, it helps suggest conversation topics it knows you are both interested in.

8.       Track your mental health

Mental health is often overlooked in tech. Not only is it inaccessible in some parts of the world, but there is still a stigma associated with mental illness that can stop many asking for help. Up steps the bot – there are tonnes of apps that allow you to chat to a ‘bot friend’ on your phone, which will listen and offer motivation to monitor and improve your mental health.

Woebot is a mood tracking chatbot with a big personality. It’s proven to help reduce depression, is able to share Cognitive Behavioural Therapy resources, and learns from speaking to you over time.

Joy is another great bots that will help you track and improve your mental health.

9.       Master immigration law

Bots even exist to help people navigate the complex world of US visa applications. Visabot is an immigration attorney bot that helps to explain American immigration laws and aid applications for the right visa based on personal background and past work. Visabot makes sure forms are filled out correctly and cuts the time it takes to apply significantly.

10.   Beat the system

DoNotPay is a bot that has helped 160,000 people get out of parking and traffic fines in London and New York. The bot helps users to identify possible challenges to their ticket or fine and then prepares a letter outlining these issues that you can then use to contest it. We saved the best till last!

Matty Mariansky, Co-Founder and product designer, Meekan by Doodle
Image source: Shutterstock/Montri Nipitvittaya

Co-Founder and product designer at Meekan by Doodle. And all round chat bot expert.