Australian brands using chatbots: Who’s using them and why

By Marcus Robinson on January 22, 2019

By Marcus Robinson

January 22, 2019

The age of voice is upon us and Australian businesses are getting in quick. And for good reason – when implemented correctly, chatbots have the capacity to dramatically improve customer experience and create higher quality interactions with your users.

However, chatbot success is not a given. Poor quality bots that don’t properly consider your customer needs can do more damage to your brand than good.

Let’s have a look at the Australian businesses doing it right and delve into why they have been successful.


In 2017 AGL Energy Ltd. launched their first chatbot, Alfie, after 12 months of prototyping. Alfie initially focused on helping customers to answer basic questions around their accounts, particularly in relation to account cancellations. The AGL team continue to use this data to learn and develop the bot’s capabilities further, with the ultimate vision of creating a general chatbot able to help with any customer enquiry.

Why is it succeeding?

AGL attributes its success to commitment to a human centric path of innovation. This means ease of interaction for customers is always the primary concern when creating any digital experience. For example, speaking at the IBM Think conference in Sydney, Sam King of AGL mentioned how:

“…no one knows their account number, so we use mobile number as a proxy. That benefits the customer’s experience”.

In line with this approach, AGL focused its chatbot’s functionality around a concentrated task area, with an emphasis on making this as successful as possible. This was instead of having broader aims that could have been less easily managed and achieved. Within this narrow use case, the development team created deep integrations with their back office systems and a human support team. They focused a lot of energy on creating a bulletproof improvement and support structure.


Originally launched on Melbourne Cup day 2016, ABC’s NewsBot interacted with over 70,000 people in its first month, growing to 250,000 in 2017, according to ABC’s 2017 news release. The bot keeps subscribers up to date with relevant news via Facebook Messenger. This involves sending news updates via the app and also responding to users’ questions about various news events.

ABC’s chatbot was designed to capture a younger, more social media-engaged audience and provide a unique conversational experience to both amuse and inform readers.

Why is it succeeding?

The key to ABC’s success is the compelling conversational experience that they have created, and one that arguably has fundamentally changed how people consume their news. Their subscriber numbers have continued to flourish over the last two years and the increasingly intelligent nature of the bot is starting to allow for more personalised interaction experiences.


In a move by Commonwealth Bank to provide a seamless customer experience alongside a secure banking channel, the organisation launched its first AI enabled chatbot in January 2018. The resulting virtual assistant, named Ceba, is available 24 hours a day and can deal with more than 200 banking tasks. There are also plans to expand its capabilities to informing customers on their spending habits.

Ceba brings real utility to consumers through its ability to not only inform banking customers how to carry out financial tasks, but perform them in real-time. Its jobs include helping customers to pay bills, activate debit cards or open new accounts.

Why is it succeeding?

A lot of Ceba’s success comes down to the incredibly easy to use interface- It’s dramatically easier to use than most other channels for performing the same tasks. For example, activating travel insurance is much faster and more intuitive via Ceba than trying to track down the details elsewhere on the website. Some of this ease also comes down to the seamless linking to human operators when delving into more complex tasks such as reporting fraud or applying for a product.

Tips for implementing a successful chatbot

So, based on the success of these companies, what can you take away for creating an outstanding chatbot for your business?

  • Make your design human centric: Your chatbot experience should be based around the needs of your target audience. It’s important that this audience is clearly defined from the outset and that every decision derives from the goal of giving them the best experience.
  • Create solid metrics for success: Define clear metrics for success. Whether this is specific ROI or more related to customer satisfaction, plan how you are going to measure this and what you’re aiming for.
  • Optimise your launch: Finding the right time to go live can be tricky. It has to be the appropriate moment for your brand and present a bot that delivers real value, however it’s important iterate quickly and not to delay until you have the perfect product. Remember that failure is an important learning tool for cutting edge technology.
  • Remember security: Chat is fantastic platform for communication, but only if your customers trust it.

If you’re interested in learning more about the possibilities that chatbot technology could hold for your business, get in touch with the experts at Stackchat.