5 of the Coolest Bots of 2017

10 Game-Changing Chatbots That Reshaped Customer Experience in 2017
It‘s official: 2017 was the year of the chatbot. From productivity to entertainment to ordering pizza, helpful AI sidekicks powered by natural language processing popped up across every industry last year. By enabling instantaneous one-on-one interaction through messaging apps people already use every day, like Facebook Messenger, smart brands tapped into the power of chatbots to engage customers in whole new ways.

While it‘s still early days, the potential for conversational AI is huge. According to Business Insider, the global chatbot market is projected to reach $9.4 billion by 2024, up from just $2.6 billion in 2019. As the underlying technology rapidly advances, chatbots are becoming smarter and more human-like by the day.

So which bots led the pack in 2017 and reshaped customer experience as we know it? After putting dozens to the test, here are our top 10 picks for the most innovative, useful, and just plain cool chatbots of the year.

  1. Domino‘s AnyWare
    In a coup for conversational commerce, Domino‘s AnyWare made ordering pizza a breeze on virtually any messaging platform. Just send a pizza emoji to Domino‘s on Facebook Messenger, Twitter, SMS, your smart home devices, even your smartwatch, and the bot will walk you through placing your favorite order. No more fiddling with the website or even talking to a human.

Powered by natural language processing, the bot can decipher a wide variety of pizza requests and quickly plug them into Domino‘s ordering system behind the scenes. It‘ll also make smart recommendations based on your preferences and send you order updates every step of the way.

The payoff for Domino‘s has been huge. Within just a few months of launching, orders coming from the AnyWare chatbot were already accounting for 2% of total U.S. sales. By streamlining the ordering process and meeting customers where they already are, Domino‘s saw its profits surge and paved the way for other brands to follow suit with their own ordering bots.

The pizza giant was an early pioneer, but it‘s not the only restaurant putting conversational AI on the menu. Competitors like Pizza Hut and Grubhub cooked up Messenger bots of their own, while Starbucks now lets you order via voice on its mobile app. The jury‘s still out on what works best – chatbots, voice, apps, or some combination of all three. But Domino‘s was the brand to beat in 2017.

  1. Swelly
    Can‘t decide what shoes to buy or where to go for dinner? This handy Messenger bot will be your new best friend. Swelly polls your social network to help you make any two-option decision, whether you want feedback from friends or anonymous users.

Just snap photos of the two things you‘re torn between, type in your question, and let the wisdom of the crowds guide you to the right choice. You can also weigh in on other people‘s polls and see how your opinions stack up. Simple? Yes. Addicting? Absolutely.

  1. HealthTap
    Getting fast answers to your medical questions can be a challenge – especially if you don‘t have time to see a doctor. HealthTap puts an AI-powered "personal health assistant" at your fingertips to provide helpful info on symptoms, treatments, and more.

Just describe what‘s ailing you in plain english, and the bot will tap into its deep reservoir of doctor-reviewed content to offer guidance on what to do next. It‘ll also help you find local doctors who take your insurance and even let you video chat with a physician on demand right through the app.

While not a replacement for an IRL visit, it‘s a useful starting point for quick health advice.

  1. Hipmunk
    Planning a trip involves juggling tons of details, from booking flights and hotels to building out an itinerary for what to do when you get there. Hipmunk‘s "Hello chatbot helps take the stress out of travel planning by handling all those logistics in one convenient chat thread.

Just tell Hello where and when you want to go, plus any preferences around airlines, hotel chains, or neighborhoods, and the bot will scour its vast partner network to serve up the best options. It can even alert you when prices drop so you can nab a deal when the time is right.

The experience feels less like a traditional travel search engine and more like texting with a really knowledgeable travel agent who always has your back. By trading painful back-and-forth for one seamless conversation, Hipmunk proves planning your next getaway doesn‘t have to be a massive headache.

  1. Fify
    Everyone needs a cheerleader in their corner, and Fify is happy to be yours. Part motivational coach, part life guru, this encouraging chatbot checks in with you daily to see how you‘re feeling and dishes out supportive messages to keep you going.

Fify will ask about your day, help you work through challenges, and even guide you through mini-meditations to help relieve stress. The tone is relentlessly upbeat and borderline cheesy at times, but it‘s hard not to crack a smile when your pocket-sized hype buddy reminds you just how awesome you are.

If you struggle to stay positive or could use a kind voice telling you everything will be OK, Fify will always be there – judgment-free and full of good vibes only.

  1. Terminus
    Most people dread dealing with cable companies and their notoriously bad customer service. But what if you could outsource the hassle to an AI assistant?

Enter Terminus, a chatbot that negotiates with Comcast so you don‘t have to. The premise is simple: give Terminus your Comcast account info and tell it what you‘re looking for – like a lower monthly bill or certain channel package. Then the bot goes to work contacting Comcast and bargaining on your behalf until it lands you a better deal.

Terminus uses natural language processing to engage the Comcast reps in human-like dialogue, politely but firmly pushing for the outcome you want. It‘ll even throw in persuasive tidbits like how long you‘ve been a loyal customer. The end result: a much less painful way to lower your cable costs without losing your cool.

  1. TechCrunch
    For tech junkies and startup obsessives, keeping up with the firehose of industry news is a daily struggle. That‘s where the TechCrunch bot comes in handy.

This savvy bot delivers the latest headlines and stories tailored to your interests right in Messenger. You can choose from TechCrunch‘s main coverage areas like Startups, Apps, and Gadgets, or go deeper and follow niche topics and individual writers.

Whenever there‘s a hot story or breaking news, the bot will alert you so you‘re always in the know. It‘s like having a personalized TechCrunch newsletter delivered straight to your chat – perfect for staying looped in without drowning in content.

  1. Andy
    This animated chatbot puts a fun, gamified spin on English language learning. Harnessing the power of AI and speech recognition, Andy engages you in lifelike conversations to help you practice your English – everything from casual chit-chat to trickier topics like idioms and tongue twisters.

As you chat, Andy offers feedback on your grammar, pronunciation, and word choices to help you improve. The bot is infinitely patient and always happy to repeat things, so you can practice at your own pace without feeling rushed or judged.

For an extra challenge, you can also play dialog-based games and quizzes to test your knowledge. With Andy as your personal English tutor, picking up the language feels less like studying and more like swapping stories with a really smart robot friend.

  1. Kasisto
    If you‘ve ever wished your bank had a dedicated assistant who could answer all your money questions 24/7, Kasisto is the next best thing. This conversational AI platform powers intelligent bots for major banks and financial institutions, giving customers on-demand support for everything from checking balances to disputing charges.

What sets Kasisto apart is its deep expertise in banking-specific language and terminology. By understanding the nuances of how people actually talk about their finances – like "I need a 20" or "my card got declined" – Kasisto can engage in more natural, helpful dialog and quickly resolve issues without human intervention.

The end result is a faster, simpler way to manage your money and get individual support – all without having to dial an 800 number and navigate a phone tree ever again. As more banks wise up to the power of conversational AI, look for Kasisto to become the new normal for financial customer service.

  1. Poncho
    Last but not least, we have to give a shout out to everyone‘s favorite expressive cartoon cat. Poncho may look cute and cuddly, but don‘t underestimate his weather-predicting prowess.

This charismatic chatbot serves up personality-packed forecasts to help you plan for the day ahead. But Poncho goes way beyond temperature and cloud cover – he‘ll also clue you in on crucial details like humidity, UV index, winds, and even how the weather might affect your allergies or commute.

Delivered with plenty of wit and whimsy, Poncho‘s colorful daily updates have earned him a loyal fanbase across Messenger, Kik, and Viber. He makes checking the weather a bright spot rather than a boring chore – further proof that even something as mundane as meteorology can sparkle with the right dash of conversational flair.

From weather to healthcare to just plain fun, 2017‘s bumper crop of chatbots previewed the vast potential of conversational AI to transform how we interact with brands, services, and each other. And we‘re only just getting started. As technology continues to evolve at warp speed, the future of chatbots looks more scintillating than ever. We can‘t wait to see what the coming years will bring.

Did your favorite bot make our list? With new ones popping up every day, there‘s sure to be more to add. One thing‘s clear though: in the battle for attention and engagement, brands that harness the power of friendly, helpful conversation – with a side of wit and personality – will have a major leg up as we charge ahead to 2018 and beyond. Now if you‘ll excuse us, we have a pizza to order.