- 7-Eleven, the convenience chain with 10,900 stores in North America, launched a chatbot on Facebook Messenger that lets users sign up for the 7Rewards customer loyalty platform, find a nearby store and learn about discounts. The 7-Eleven Bot gives access to digital cards that loyalty members can scan in stores to earn reward points and collect coupons without the need for a plastic loyalty card, according to a press release by the company.
- Chat software platform Conversable helped create the 7-Eleven Bot that uses machine learning to continually improve automated conversations. Consumers can find the bot by searching for it in the social network's Messenger app.
- The chatbot is part of 7-Eleven's efforts to enhance the customer experience. Recently, the chain installed Amazon Lockers for package pickup in some stores, partnered with Postmates to expand its delivery service in 35 cities and integrated with the PayNearMe app, per the release.
7-Eleven’s emphasis on convenience is a natural fit for chatbots that help to automate and expedite conversations with customers, especially for younger consumers who are generally more engaged with mobile platforms. The chatbot immediately pushes its 7Rewards program with an easy signup and an offer for its "Buy 6 Cups-Get the 7th Free" promotion. The offer includes a QR code that can be scanned in stores. This move aims to provide a seamless experience for customers and helps to bridge the gap between offline and online worlds.
While Messenger chatbots are still in the process of taking off since their introduction to the platform in April 2016, they're generating a decent amount of activity and engagement. About 1.2 billion entities talk on Messenger now, and not all of them are human, according to Forbes. More than 100,000 chatbots generate 2 billion messages with the people they engage every month.
At the same time, chatbots have been criticized by some for being clunky and lacking sophistication. About 60% of Fortune 500 companies haven’t used a chatbot for business-to-consumer interactions, according to a LiveWorld survey. Among those that have created chatbots, Messenger is the most common app, a smart move as the chat platform reels in nearly 1.3 billion users each month.
Eighty percent of survey respondents said their use of social media is expected to increase next year, while 53% expected a greater use of messaging apps, the survey found. Only 40% expected to increase use of chatbots. The top objections to chatbots included their low priority, lack of in-house expertise, unclear usage strategy and budget constraints. Clearly, more examples of chatbot success stories would help to drive their adoption.