We find the 10 best options, so you can make informed decisions on tons of products and services.
If you’re thinking of adding a chatbot to your customer service, marketing, or general business tools, see what sets the leading platforms apart.
Chatbots are not the future of marketing and customer service any more – they have firmly arrived in the present. Customers increasingly prefer to use a chat service to ask questions about products and services and for resolving issues that come up. Using email is perceived as too slow, and people are very reluctant to have to pick up the phone.
Chatbots are not just for customer service, they are also being used as the primary way to deliver services and products. Domino’s Pizza has used a Facebook chatbot to receive pizza orders since 2016. It’s clear that chatbots are versatile business tools that fill an important role for many different businesses.
If you’re thinking of adding a chatbot onto your customer service, marketing, or general business tools, you have several options ahead of you. While you could pay for an expert to set it up, you might be able to create a chatbot that fits your needs without having to bring in outside help. There are a number of chatbot building platforms which support you in creating the right chatbot for your business. Here are the differences to look for when choosing a chatbot platform.
What Coding Experience it Demands
There are 2 major factors to bear in mind which go hand in hand when you choose a chatbot building platform – how complex it is to get started with a chatbot, and how much power you need in the chatbot. Essentially, the simpler it is to get a bot up and running, the fewer AI features you’ll be able to access. First, let’s consider the creation process.
If you feel that your business needs a chatbot, but you want to set it up yourself, you don’t need to worry. There are plenty of easy to use chatbot building platforms with intuitive interfaces that make it quick and simple to build a chatbot. Options like Octane.AI and ChattyPeople offer a completely code-free building process. ChatFuel is another code-free option with a slick and self-explanatory interface. ChatFuel claims that you can get started with a working chatbot in just 15 minutes. Entrepreneurs, small businesses, and marketers will do best with one of these easy to use platforms.
There are some chatbot building platforms that serve novices at programming as well as offering more advanced capabilities for experienced developers. For example, BotKit does require you to write some code, but it also presents an arsenal of useful tools such as starter kits, a library, and plugins to make the process easier. Botsify has both a paid subscription that guides you through the process of creating a simple chatbot and a free service which you can use to build your own custom bots. Botsify makes it easy for non-programmers who want to avoid coding by offering a drag and drop interface for chatbot building.
Does it Include Advanced AI Capabilities?
This is the other side to the question of how much coding experience you need to build your chatbot. Before you choose a platform, you’ll need to consider whether you need it to harness advanced AI capabilities such as ML and NLP. For example, a chatbot platform such as Microsoft Bot Framework includes LUIS.ai natural language processing capabilities so that you can build a bot which mimics natural speech patterns. You can also manually connect the backend to other NLP APIs to improve the natural language understanding of your bot. DialogFlow’s comprehensive platform with a powerful API.ai enables you to build any type of chatbot that can hold realistic, context-sensitive conversations with your customers. Botsify is another platform that uses sophisticated machine learning so that your chatbot can quickly learn the interests and preferences of each user and provide personalized content for each one.
Other chatbot building platforms that offer a simpler building process also generally deliver a simpler chatbot product. Octane.AI and Chatfuel both produce basic chatbots that don’t have the power to handle NLP, ML, or other advanced AI capabilities. But, if all you want is a Facebook Messenger chatbot that takes simple pizza orders or responds to basic event time inquiries, you won't need these extended AI tools. A simple and fast creation process is going to be more valuable to you than a deep and powerful AI toolbox.
What Do You Want the Bot to Do?
Before you can really decide whether you need a chatbot building platform that is more complex with higher AI capabilities, or a simple and easy-to-use option, you need to know what you want your bot to be able to do. For example, do you want a goal-oriented chatbot that supports sales and helps users to make a purchase? Or, are you in need of a conversation bot that doesn’t need to have a deep understanding of the customer’s responses to suggest relevant actions? ChattyPeople can help you build a simple chatbot that answers customer support questions, but its integration with Stripe, Shopify, Magento, and other eCommerce services means that it can also support in-bot purchases. It also offers built-in analytics so that you can make the most of your chatbot's interactions. Similarly, Smooch connects your business apps into an automated chatbot which supports receiving payments through Stripe within the conversation.
On the other hand, you may want to create a chatbot that responds in a deep and relevant way to customer cues in order to provide personalized content such as recommendations and advice. Botsify and Wit.ai both include the deep ML tools that you need to create a successful conversational bot that increases customer engagement. Botkit is another option if you want a chatbot that has a personality and the ability to hold human conversations.
How Much Does it Cost?
Although all other considerations are very important, the bottom line is always going to play a part in driving your decision. Some chatbot building platforms are open-source and thus entirely free, including Botkit and Wit.ai. Microsoft Bot Framework is also free for most users (you’ll only have to pay if you’re going to use it through Azure). Many more platforms are free to get started, so small businesses and entrepreneurs which don’t need to handle a large stream of users can build and run a chatbot for free. These include Smooch, which is free for up to 500 conversations per month, but above that, you'll have to pay $60 for the premium plan. Botsify only charges once you exceed 100 users per month or need more than one chatbot, with premium plans beginning at $10 a month, while Chatfuel is free for up to 500,000 active monthly users.
Join the Chatbot Revolution Today!
No matter whether you are an expert programmer or have no knowledge of code at all and regardless of what you want your chatbot to do, there is nothing stopping you from getting started building your own chatbot today. You can harness the benefits of AI marketing and customer service at any price point, using one of the relevant chatbot building platforms we’ve mentioned here.