Brands Are Cooling Down When It Comes To Chatbots

Brands Are Cooling Down When It Comes To Chatbots

After disappointing performance results from chatbots, many brands are rethinking their use of AI to connect with customers

Jennifer Passas
  • 13 march 2017

Facebook reported last week that its bots have a failure rate of 70 percent which means that only 30 percent of chabot conversations are successful.

Fashion retail brand Everlane, which was an early adopter of Facebook Messenger bot technology, announced recently that they will no longer be using the channel as a method to talk to customers. Similarly online commerce business Spring has stated that the Facebook Messenger bot is both hard to use and isn’t meeting the the level of personalization they like to provide for consumers.

Many brands that rushed into using bots as a way of communicating with their customers are now reassessing if it’s the best way to connect. Brands fled to bot technology because of the expected ease of use, but now need to reconsider the experience bots are providing and if it lives up to the standard and values that the brand promises.


Customers expect a human-like experience using bots and as the technology now stands, the experience is far from personal. In situations that are sensitive or complex a bot just isn’t able to provide the level of customer service that a human would. While some bots that were created to complete simple requests like the Domino’s DOM that helped customers order from Facebook, have had success, it’s the brands that wanted bots to complete more complex tasks that are not seeing the results they’d like to from the technology.

Right now the nuanced way humans communicate, especially over messaging apps is too sophisticated for bots to understand and respond accordingly. Until AI can understand the subtleties of human conversation brands stand to hold off on chatbot AI.


+Social Media

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Erica co-founded and co-leads UNICEF’s Innovation Unit, a group tasked with identifying, prototyping and scaling technologies and practices that improve UNICEF's work on the ground. Working with partners in private sector and academia, the Innovation Unit supports UNICEF’s 135+ country offices in the practical application of design and technology to strengthen international development outcomes. UNICEF Innovation has recognized success in innovative design of international development solutions. Erica was named to the TIME 100 “World’s Most Influential People” List in 2013. Other examples of this work include the Digital Drum, recognized by Time Magazine as one of the Top 50 inventions of 2011, gold and silver International Design Excellence (IDSA) Awards, a Red Hat prize for being one of the three top open source projects and the award-winning RapidSMS - a system that uses basic mobile phones and SMS messages to communicate with front-line workers and improve the speed and quality of data collection and health and education services. Since 2007, UNICEF Innovation has worked with partners to develop open source technologies that have registered seven million births in Nigeria over 15 months and provided antenatal care to thousands of pregnant women across Rwanda. These systems are built on a set of principles, such as collaboration and learning from fast failures, that have informed successes such as the tracking of the distribution of more than 25 million insecticide treated mosquito nets and providing a direct feedback loop for more than 260,000 young Ugandans to engage with their government and change policy in real time. Erica worked with the Commission for Macroeconomics and Health, a joint collaboration between the World Bank and the World Health Organization, and developed and executed UNICEF global communication strategies for immunization, child survival and avian influenza and pandemic preparedness. Erica co-taught ‘Design for UNICEF’ at NYU’s ITP with Clay Shirky. She has lectured at the Yale School of Management, Harvard University, The Art Center, Stanford University School of Engineering and Columbia School of International and Public Affairs on technology, innovation, design and international development.


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