Why the noise of voice and chat will only get louder for brands
A view from Ben Carter

Why the noise of voice and chat will only get louder for brands

At Just Eat we are constantly looking for new ways to connect with our customers, and voice and chat are proving to be exciting platforms for development.

As marketers, we can be too quick to chase innovation for innovation’s sake. Shiny, new digital platforms that have a lot of buzz about them can tempt brands in but too often they don’t deliver on the promise and become white elephants.

At Just Eat, our vision is to create the world’s greatest food community. In essence, connecting customers with the restaurants (and the food) they want around the world.

Our diverse restaurant partners, be they a local curry house, an up-and-coming cafe in Manchester or a national brand, such as KFC, are our lifeblood. Everything we do is focused on delivering on that partnership. From a marketing perspective this means we need to continually find ways to connect our customers with our restaurant partners through whatever platform the consumer wants to find them. 

Voice and chat are two such platforms and, far from being irrelevant, they are innovations that have real potential. As a business and a brand, we use them to engage with customers but we also drive orders through them.

Facebook has been telling anyone who will listen that Facebook Messenger has huge potential, whether as a customer service channel, brand engagement channel or transactional channel. Our initial forays into chat back up that argument. 

Together with our social-media agency, Byte, we launched our Facebook ChatBot in 2016 as a proof-point of our rebrand. The rebrand was to establish Just Eat as having the best, biggest and broadest choice of food in Britain, and we used the Facebook ChatBot to give our customers inspiration about what they may want to eat for dinner.

We’ve continued to evolve and improve our bot; it now enables you to order simply using emojis. We have also used it to amplify our core marketing campaigns, and during our sponsorship of The X Factor last year we relaunched it as a chat bot for show fanatics.

Since launch, we’ve had more than 50,000 users; impressively, 29% of these have gone on to order. It is also "sticky"; the average user spends more than two minutes on it. We’ve also been able to take insights from how people use the ChatBot to improve our proprietary service bot that lives on our apps.

Voice is as interesting as chat. Just Eat was one of the first to launch "Skills" on Amazon Alexa and we continue to evolve our voice proposition.

You can reorder your favourite takeaway simply by asking Alexa, and for the World Cup, we created a special feature to enable you to "group order" from restaurants. Our voice activity is not as advanced as chat, but the potential is huge. 

Currently, most people use the "ask Alexa" or "ask Google" function to listen to music, but voice’s time will come, as the digital concierge of our lives. So, for us to become the food app, we need be at the forefront of that revolution.

Ben Carter is UK marketing director at Just Eat