American Express has upped the ante in their social strategy by embracing Facebook Messenger chat bots in order to serve as a modern concierge for US cardholders.
The financial services corporation previewed their Amex bot initiative and demonstrated their pilot plans in an activation at Cannes-Lions Innovation festival in France last week by showcasing real-time notifications and purchase alerts, restaurant recommendations and more.
“Partnering with Facebook gives us the chance to explore different types of real-time features that are possible for us to deliver to our card members in Messenger, allowing us the opportunity to be a part of a card member’s journey every step of the way,” Matthew Sueoka, vice president of digital partnerships and development for American Express, told [a]listdaily in an interview. “The concept we demoed at Cannes shows how we can help card members who opt in to the Amex bot for Messenger stay on top of their purchases and take advantage of their card’s many benefits. The scale and flexibility of the Messenger platform makes it a powerful channel for us to explore new ways to connect with our card members.”
Expected to launch in the next few months for eligible US Consumer and OPEN customers, Amex describes a possible scenario unfolding like so: “For example, if a platinum card member purchases an airline ticket from Las Vegas to New York City, he or she would receive a purchase notification in Messenger and then may also receive a helpful reminder about how to access The Centurion Lounge at the airport, as well as restaurant recommendations, courtesy of The Infatuation, for the upcoming trip.”
Sueoka says the activation was designed to make the lives of their consumers simpler, easier and more streamlined, and that they look forward to hearing more from their card members in the coming months. For now, the bot will engage in dialogue through automated messaging consisting of answers to “yes-or-no questions.” It’s yet to be determined if deeper conversations will take place with cardholders and customer service representatives.
“There are a lot of possibilities in terms of what we can build on top of Messenger, and our team is thinking through the opportunities and is excited to test out these new concepts with our card members who opt in,” Sueoka says. “Given that this is a concept at present, we will have more details when the pilot launches.”
The finance giant didn’t become fast friends with Facebook overnight, either. The two platforms have partnered in the past in a series of Amex marketing initiatives including discounts and special offers based on “likes” and interest, as well as letting cardholders redeem their Membership Rewards points for Facebook Ads credit.
“Facebook was one of the first places we brought the Amex Offers platform, and it was a true jumping-off point for us,” Sueoka says. “We are thrilled to continue to work with them to offer innovative experiences for our card members.”
Amex is continuing to pioneer programs in digital innovation to further boost user engagement and loyalty. It’s a core company pillar further echoed in their 2015 annual report.
It’s also a strategy that brands like Bank of America, 1-800-Flowers and the NBA, which debuted a bot earlier this month just in time for the Finals, have already capitalized on after Facebook’s chat bot initiative that was announced during April’s F8 developer conference.
Mattel and Uber are just some of the others embracing and jumping on the big bot bandwagon, too. There are also startups like Sequel who enable brands and content creators by developing synthetic personas to engage users.
The chat bot infrastructures are already in place. Whether or not consumers will be engaged enough in an authentic way to continue the conversation remains to be seen.
Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan