A few weeks ago the Siri speaker on my gold iPhone 6 stopped working, and I had to get in touch with Verizon support to get a new one. Calling is so 2002 though, and email takes FOREVER, so I just hopped online and started chatting with someone on the Verizon website. We had a very nice conversation, and within a few minutes the man (bot?) was shipping me a replacement phone.
Then, a couple days later, I had to add HBO to my cable package because Game of Thrones comes back April 24 and I need to know if Jon Snow is like "dead, dead" or just "kind of dead." And I don’t know if you’ve ever tried calling a cable company, but the whole process is usually about as much fun as shipping chocolate in July. So again, I hopped online, and handled the whole thing through a quick chat with a Comcast representative.
So with all these companies fixing problems via chats, it only makes sense that a company like 1-800-FLOWERS.COM would want to get connected with what is arguably the most popular chatting app right now in the U.S. — Facebook messenger.
The gifting company has launched a new program for Messenger that lets users order flowers right in the Messenger app on their cell phone or via a message sent through their Facebook page on an old-fashioned laptop. The company says the program is run partly with a bot, built specifically for the Facebook app, that interacts with customers using natural language.
As the company — which owns confectionery and snack brands like Fannie May and Harry and David — explains, “1-800-FLOWERS.COM will blend our bot and live customer service support on Messenger to serve as ‘gift concierges’ and answer questions, make gifting suggestions, process orders, send shipping updates, and provide an array of other important information such as gift reminders.”
And while the only products available right now through the service are flowers, the company says rolling out its gourmet food brands is, “on the horizon.”
I have to confess, even though I’m technically a millennial, I’m a little skeptical of bots — let’s just say Siri and I had a falling out. However, I’m open to new relationships, so I decided to give it a go myself. I pulled up the 1-800-Flowers.com page, and clicked, “message.”
The first thing that came up was an attachment that offered me the chance to either, “Order flowers” or “Talk to support.” I clicked “Talk to Support.”
- 1-800-Flowers.com: You are now chatting with our support team. How can we help you? (type “TALK STOP” to stop chatting with our support team)
- CL: Hey there, I was looking at maybe ordering flowers for someone in Deerfield, Il. Do you guys deliver there?
1-800-Flowers.com: Hello, how may I assist you?
I will be happy to help you with that! May I have the zip code
- CL: 60015
1-800-Flowers.com: Perfect, thank you! One moment while I check for you.
Yes, we do deliver to that area!
CL: Awesome! Thanks! I'm going to look online to see what I'd like to order. [smile emoticon]
Thanks for the help!
- 1-800-Flowers.com: You are very welcome! Please visit our website at www1800flowers.com to see the many items.
So two things. One, no I don’t know why I used a smiley emoji when I was talking to a bot. And two, I honestly couldn’t tell if I was talking to a bot or a real human being, so props to 1-800-Flowers.com for that.
Personally, I could definitely see myself using the Messenger app to order stuff. And, of course, in like three months, ordering stuff through Facebook Messenger will probably be so commonplace, that we’ll all wonder how we ever got pizza, phone chargers and Valentine’s Day candy without it. The question is, which companies will we be ordering those pizzas, phone chargers and Valentine’s Day candy from?