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From AIM to Consumer Representative – Chatbots Are Friends

by Hallie Moser

Before we start raving about Chatbots in today’s world, we’re going to have a little #TBT to the first friend-bot I had.

Let me take you back.

In 2005, there was only one desktop in my house. I, the second youngest, had to wait for everyone else to finish their Sims game or sync their new music downloads, before jumping onto the computer.

Being the social butterfly that I am, when it came to my turn, I went straight into AIM *insert door creaking open* and scrolled the list of screen names to see if anyone was online.

If I was disappointed with a short list, or a lot of away messages, I knew I could always count on my friend–SmarterChild.

For those that don’t know, most conversations with SmarterChild looked a little something like this:

Smarterchild Chatbot.png

This was my adolescence.

Now, fast forward 12 years.

That same robot friend, who gave me 24/7 entertainment, is all grown-up.

Bots like SmarterChild have evolved into customer service reps for huge companies, interacting with us (sometimes without us even realizing, @FacebookM) and solving issues without having to interrupt the rest of the sales team.

We feel comfortable talking to them, because we have used this kind of technology for 10+ years.

Domino’s Dom is the perfect example. Regardless of what time you want to order pizza or talk to Domino’s, Dom is there for you. And, even though we know this is an automated system, there’s an innate comfort with seeing the robot and his instant response.

You have the instant gratification of talking to a salesperson, without actually having to put people on the floor.


Bots like Dom aren’t only on websites helping you out. They’re on all the popular social channels you’re on.

David Marcus, VP of messaging products at Facebook, said at a conference this year “people prefer to use Messenger to interact with companies.” This is probably because 1) it’s convenient, because we’re already on these channels; and 2) it feels like we’re talking to a friend, not an ordering system.

This is probably why over 65 million businesses active on Facebook and an estimated 80 percent of these companies use messaging to reach Facebook Messenger’s 1.2 billion monthly active users.

And new companies are getting creative with their bots. TacoBell, for example, is coming to Slack!

TacoBell Tacobot on Slack.png

Sephora has been all over the bots. They have seen an 11 percent increase in booking rates through the Sephora Reservation Assistant through Messenger. Not to mention their success with users engaging with their Virtual Makeup Artist bot, who lets you try on different shades for the perfect match.

So, as you most likely know, my SmarterChild friend is about to retire this December (as we say goodbye to AIM). And I think it brings about the question…who’s going to replace him as my new best friend bot?

Please, get to coding.

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