12 Channels

10 Worst Chatbot Failures And What You Can Learn From Them


BI Intelligence report predicts that global retail consumer spending via chatbots will reach $142 billion by 2024.

Business Insider

As organizations seek innovative ways to engage with their target audiences, chatbots have emerged as a promising tool for facilitating seamless interactions and addressing consumer needs. Yet, despite the potential benefits of this technology, many brands have stumbled in their efforts to leverage chatbots effectively, causing frustrated customers to seek alternative channels like social media and customer service lines to resolve their issues.

In light of these setbacks, companies must reflect on their chatbot strategies and identify areas for improvement. By examining the root causes of chatbot failures and implementing measures to enhance the complexity and variation of their messaging, businesses can foster deeper connections with customers and elevate their overall brand image.

chatbot failures

10 business chatbot failures to learn from

Chatbot Failures #1. American Express

American Express, in its never-ending pursuit to deliver matchless customer service, has secured a well-deserved reputation as an industry leader. Notwithstanding its many accomplishments, the company’s foray into chatbot technology has been far from victorious. Initially hailed as a promising innovation, the Amex Bot ultimately descended into despair and futility.

The reason why it failed: Unveiled in 2016 with the objective of streamlining travel bookings and tracking expenses, the Amex Bot was rapidly criticized for its dearth of functionality and value. Most notably, the chatbot’s incapacity to comprehend natural language and manage customer grievances proved to be its downfall. Exasperated users had no recourse but to seek assistance from alternative channels, and American Express was compelled to pull the plug on the bot in 2017.

What businesses can learn from this: Businesses must take great care to ensure that their chatbot strategies are designed to meet the unique needs and preferences of their consumers. This means investing in rigorous testing to ensure user-friendliness and efficiency, as well as infusing the bot with a personality that fosters greater connection and comfort between user and machine.

With these principles in place, businesses can hope to deliver chatbot experiences that truly meet the needs of their customers, and avoid the pitfalls that doomed the Amex Bot to failure.

Chatbot Failures #2. Bloomingdale’s

Bloomingdale’s, the posh fashion retailer celebrated for its fashion-forward trends, initiated an audacious endeavor in 2016 with the rollout of a chatbot on Facebook Messenger. This innovative chatbot aimed to captivate the interest of tech-savvy, youthful shoppers and completely transform the way customers interacted with the brand. Yet, the results were disappointing, to say the least.

The reason why it failed: Almost immediately, the chatbot became inundated with a barrage of negative feedback from customers who were dissatisfied with the bot’s limited functionality and its inability to furnish even fundamental information. Disappointed and frustrated customers turned elsewhere for assistance, and Bloomingdale’s was forced to shutter the chatbot in 2017.

What businesses can learn from this: A chatbot must be equipped with a robust set of features and capabilities to effectively engage and support customers. To meet this challenge, businesses must invest in tools like natural language processing (NLP) engines that enable chatbots to handle a wide range of queries and requests.

Additionally, integrating chatbots with existing customer service platforms can provide the added functionality and support necessary to build lasting relationships with customers. By heeding these lessons, businesses can create chatbot experiences that truly resonate with customers, and drive long-term growth and success.

Chatbot Failures #3. Burger King

Burger King, the popular fast-food chain renowned for its mouth-watering burgers and innovative marketing campaigns, embarked on an ambitious new venture in 2016 with the launch of its chatbot, Whopperito. The goal was to create a fun and interactive way for customers to order their food and engage with the brand in a whole new way.

However, the reality fell far short of expectations. Almost immediately, the chatbot was plagued by issues that left customers feeling frustrated and confused. Navigation was difficult, and orders were often misunderstood, leading to a high rate of abandonment and a corresponding drop in customer satisfaction.

The reason why it failed: The failure of the Whopperito chatbot is a complex issue with manifold root causes, likely stemming from its lack of functionality and engagement. In the highly competitive marketplace of today, customers demand experiences that are both easy and enjoyable, and unfortunately, the Whopperito fell short in delivering such experiences. Comparatively, other channels such as social media and customer service offered a more seamless and user-friendly experience, leading many customers to abandon the chatbot altogether.

What businesses can learn from this: From this situation, businesses can glean valuable lessons in how to avoid a similar fate. To succeed, chatbots must offer something truly unique and valuable to customers. This might entail integrating cutting-edge features like natural language processing or voice recognition or crafting chatbots that are customized to suit the diverse needs of different customer segments.

Moreover, investing in user experience design is critical to ensuring that the chatbot is intuitive to use and navigate, and that customers are delighted at every step of the way. By adhering to these principles, businesses can create chatbots that are both successful and sustainable in the long run.

Chatbot Failures #4. Xbox

The Xbox chatbot, a creation of Microsoft, was designed to be a panacea for customers seeking assistance with their gaming console concerns. However, the bot’s dismal performance in comprehending customer queries rendered it obsolete in a matter of time. The bot’s responses, more often than not, were plagued with inaccuracies and irrelevancies, making the customer support experience an arduous and frustrating one. Consequently, disenchanted customers were compelled to seek other channels, including social media or customer service, for prompt and reliable solutions.

The reason why it failed: The failure of the chatbot, in a nutshell, can be attributed to its inability to fathom the complexity of customer queries, leading to an outpour of misleading and irrelevant responses.

What businesses can learn from this: The lesson that businesses can glean from this scenario is that chatbots must be equipped to process and comprehend customer queries, to provide relevant and accurate responses. Furthermore, companies should also contemplate the provision of alternate channels for customer support, as a contingency plan, in case chatbots fall short of customer expectations.

Chatbot Failures #5. Bank of America

The Bank of America’s chatbot, a purported solution to customers’ banking needs, proved to be a thorn in the flesh, primarily due to its ineptitude in comprehending customer inquiries. The chatbot, in its lackadaisical approach, would leave customers exasperated, with frequent requests to repeat themselves.

The reason why it failed: The insipid performance of the chatbot, a colossal disappointment to customers, led to a shift to other channels, as they sought efficacious banking solutions.

What businesses can learn from this: The crux of the matter lies in the bot’s incompetence in decoding the intricacies of customer inquiries, leading to a barrage of requests for repetition, and inevitably, an unimpressive customer experience.

Therefore, businesses should take a leaf from this fiasco and ensure that their chatbots are adequately trained and tested, to handle a wide spectrum of customer inquiries, in order to deliver an optimal and satisfactory experience. Moreover, companies must ensure that their chatbots can understand the distinct needs of customers before deploying them, to forestall an undesirable and unsatisfactory customer service experience.

Chatbot Failures #6. Capital One

Capital One’s chatbot, like its peers, promised to be a reliable and prompt solution to customers’ financial concerns. However, the chatbot’s ineptitude and tardiness in responding to customer inquiries, coupled with its propensity for delivering incorrect or irrelevant responses, proved to be a monumental letdown. For instance, when customers sought information on interest rates on credit cards, the chatbot would flounder, responding with incongruent information or flashing an error message, signifying its impotence in comprehending even the basic keywords.

The reason why it failed: The chatbot’s struggles with natural language comprehension, coupled with its myriad of failures in interpretation, left customers frustrated and exasperated, prompting a shift to alternative channels such as social media and customer service lines.

What businesses can learn from this: The crux of the issue lies in the chatbot’s incompetence in comprehending customer queries, a deficit that led to a string of irrelevant and incorrect responses, and ultimately, to customers’ dissatisfaction.

Consequently, businesses must realize that AI technology is not infallible and that its limitations necessitate human intervention. It’s critical to have a human in the loop to interpret customer queries and provide accurate responses, as this can forestall unwanted frustration and customer attrition.

Chatbot Failures #7. Chase

The chatbot developed by Chase has garnered significant praise for its relative success in the marketplace. Nevertheless, its performance is not without shortcomings. Regrettably, the chatbot’s capacity to apprehend customer inquiries can sometimes falter, leading to repeated requests for supplementary information. Moreover, the chatbot’s responses can prove to be errant or tangential, resulting in a squandering of time and, in some cases, imparting imprecise information.

The reason why it failed: While the chatbot developed by Chase has fared better than its counterparts, it’s far from flawless and necessitates human intervention to be truly effective.

What businesses can learn from this: The primary reason for the chatbot’s shortcomings lies in its inability to comprehend customer queries, which, in turn, engenders irrelevant or incorrect responses. To obviate such setbacks, businesses must prioritize the chatbot’s ability to comprehend customer inquiries and provide accurate, relevant responses. Using keywords in customer queries is a proven strategy that can aid chatbots in comprehending the customer’s needs and delivering relevant responses.

Chatbot Failures #8. HBO Now

Have you ever had the misfortune of interacting with HBO Now’s chatbot? If not, consider yourself lucky as it is far from being a helpful tool. The chatbot has a notorious reputation for its poor performance and inability to provide helpful responses. The bot’s ineptitude has even led some users to vent their frustrations on social media platforms.

The HBO Now chatbot fails on multiple levels. Firstly, it struggles to comprehend natural language, which means users must frame their questions in a specific and formal manner. Otherwise, the chatbot will fail to understand and provide any meaningful assistance.

Secondly, the chatbot is frequently unresponsive, leading users to wait for extended periods only to receive automated responses that don’t address their queries.

Finally, the chatbot’s lack of knowledge about the HBO Now service means users cannot get the help they need to utilize the service or troubleshoot issues.

The HBO Now chatbot’s inadequacies serve as a reminder that businesses must invest in developing effective chatbots. They need to ensure that chatbots are equipped with natural language understanding capabilities, responsive to users, and well-versed in the products and services they offer.

Chatbot Failures #9. IHOP

IHOP Connect, the supposedly revolutionary chatbot designed to facilitate orders and reservations for IHOP customers, failed spectacularly. The chatbot’s malfunctioning behavior, including misinterpreting customer inquiries and being unresponsive, resulted in a slew of unhappy and frustrated customers. Adding insult to injury, IHOP Connect was clueless about the restaurant’s menu, making the ordering process a nightmare.

The reason why it failed: The chatbot had several issues, including misunderstanding customer queries, being unresponsive, and lacking knowledge about the IHOP menu.

What businesses can learn from this: Chatbots must be meticulously designed to meet customer needs. They should be capable of comprehending customer inquiries, responding in a timely manner, and possessing adequate knowledge of the business’s products and services.

Chatbot Failures #10. Kayak

Kayak’s KAYAK bot, intended to assist customers with their travel plans, has been a huge letdown. Despite its purpose, the chatbot was frequently unhelpful and failed to grasp customer queries. Adding to this, the chatbot wasn’t available around the clock, further complicating customers’ attempts to receive help. As a consequence, Kayak has terminated its chatbot service.

There are a few takeaways from Kayak’s chatbot failures:

  1. Ensure that your chatbot is available 24/7 to assist customers when they need it.
  2. Build your chatbot with a focus on utility and user-friendliness.
  3. Train your chatbot to comprehend customer inquiries so it can provide relevant responses.
  4. If your chatbot persistently fails to meet customer needs, consider discontinuing the service.

Whether you’re running a small business or a big corporation, chatbots can be an incredibly helpful customer service tool. However, it’s critical to make certain that your chatbot is designed properly and can meet customers’ demands. Otherwise, you may end up with a useless chatbot that could damage your brand reputation.

Bonus – Chatbot Failures


While it’s important to draw motivation from success stories, it’s even more crucial to learn from the failures of chatbots. The objective of this post was not to disparage any of the brands mentioned, but rather to demonstrate that even the most prominent companies with abundant resources at their disposal can err when it comes to chatbots.

We trust that this post has provided you with valuable insights and lessons to avoid similar chatbot mishaps. As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us should you have any inquiries or require assistance in designing a chatbot for your enterprise.

If you’re looking to sidestep the perils of chatbot failures, engaging an agency is your optimal solution. Contact us today to initiate a consultation at 12 Channels and take the first step towards chatbot triumph.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest Articles

Sign up for our newsletter to get information, promo, or insight about the vehicle