“The first impression is the last impression,” they say. It also holds true for customer service. The first touchpoint between your prospect and your business defines whether they will turn into a customer or not. To perfect the first impression and the impressions after that, businesses today are turning to chatbot development platforms.
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Today, excellent customer service is the defining factor for customers choosing your service over your competitors. Being more advanced than a live chat tool, bots address your customers’ queries instantly across channels, without the need for a support agent. Chatbots, owing to their benefits, have become a necessity for businesses to offer impeccable customer service.
The adoption of chatbots accelerated in the last few years when Facebook opened up its developer platform and explored the possibility of chatbots through their Messenger app.
Since then, there have been many chatbot development platforms that help businesses build omnichannel chatbots to enhance sales, generate leads, improve customer support, and much more.
A study from Grand View Research states that the bot economy will total to $1.25 billion by 2025, while Gartner predicts that 85% of businesses will have some sort of chatbot automation implemented by 2020. With Covid-19 bringing the world to a standstill in March 2020, and businesses looking to cut costs with automation – that Gartner prediction is more than likely to come true.
Building a Chatbot – Defining Use Cases, Requirements and Types of Chatbot
Getting started with chatbots can be very overwhelming. There are multiple aspects of how to build a chatbot, such as strategy, conversational flow, technology, tools, process, reporting, and more.
Before you get to building a chatbot, you need to identify –
- What problem are you trying to solve? This becomes your use case.
- How much time are you/your team currently spending on this problem? This helps you define your ROI later.
- Could you automate a 100% of the process with a bot, or do you need human intervention? This helps you identify if you need the platform to have a chatbot to human handover functionality.
- Do you need the chatbot to push/pull data from a 3rd party system? This will help you narrow down to platforms with ready integrations.
By closely assessing your processes, understanding your business goals, the chatbot’s objectives, and designing the chatbot conversation flow to handle input/output efficiently, will help you in your journey of building a bot.
There are mainly three different types of bots that you can build, including –
- Rule-Based Chatbots
Rule-based bots work on a predefined conversation flow that allows the bot to flow logically based on the user’s inputs/choices. The users navigate through the conversation flow by clicking on buttons, menus, carousels and answering questions.
Rule-based bots are easier to build, and are more comfortable for users to navigate through. Users cannot ask their own questions, but can only enter details when the bot asks for it (contact details, details pertaining to the use case and more).
- AI Chatbots
AI chatbots make use of natural language processing to understand sentence structure and then process that information, while consecutively getting better at answering the question at hand over time.
Put simply; AI chatbots first understand what the intent behind the customer’s question is, and come back with a relevant and contextual answer, instead of relying on a predetermined output text designed by a human.
- Hybrid Chatbots
As the name suggests, the hybrid chatbot uses the best of rule based and AI, along with live chat functionality to provide a superior customer experience. To be able to build a chatbot, you would need to –
- Determine the exact tone and personality of the chatbot based on your respective business and use case.
- Include a human element to the chatbot to ensure comfortable and fluent conversations.
- The scripting data you use should reflect your target audience as the conversation design’s success will largely depend on the context and user intent.
14 Most Powerful Chatbot Development Platforms To Build A Chatbot For Your Business
With a myriad of chatbot platforms out there, we’ve narrowed down to a list of 14 best chatbot building platforms out there. The list below goes into detail on their features, pros, cons, pricing details, and if you require any technical expertise for building a chatbot for your business.
WotNot is the best chatbot development platform that helps you build intelligent chatbots, and offer the full range of conversational marketing solutions for more than 16 industries.
With a no-code chatbot builder, you can easily build bots using the drag and drop interface, from scratch, or use any of their pre-existing templates to quickly customize, and go live.
WotNot offers the best of both worlds – a chatbot and a live chat tool to scale sales and support, with human intervention, when needed. If you’re in a rush to build your bot, and go live ASAP – WotNot is the platform for you.
- No-code bot builder enables you to build bots instantly with simple drag and drop interface
- The chatbot to human handover feature allows a human agent to participate in the conversation, whenever required
- Chatbot Analytics for a bird’s eye view of the bot’s performance through KPIs such as top countries, top intents, average conversation time, and more
- Chatbot conversations are saved in the backend, and the transcripts can be emailed to sales and support team in real time
- Supports multiple channels from websites, Messenger, WhatsApp, SMS to Mobile apps
- Unlimited conversations and messages
- Seamless integrations with Salesforce, Shopify, Zoho, WordPress, Slack, Dialogflow, IBM Watson and many more
- Bot limit is up to 10 bots/account
There is a 14-day free trial for users to explore and test the platform. WotNot offers a flat pricing plan with access to all features at $99/month or $949 per year.
Leverage the expertise of their conversation design team to build your bot for you, as WotNot offers a fully managed done-for-you service. Make sure you keep a close eye on chatbot analytics to uncover insights, and split A/B test chatbot flows to increase conversions.
Intercom provides a range of products in the customer support space. They provide custom chatbots for use cases around sales, marketing, and support. These bot can also be integrated with e-commerce and social platforms, and have live chat options.
- Allows you to design a bot quickly without any coding
- Engage with every qualified lead proactively by starting conversations using advanced targeting
- You can integrate conversations from social media channels into a CRM
- High-quality, personalized help at scale
- No free version available
- Complex UI makes it difficult to build a bot
Plans are starting from $499/month which includes 10 seats. You are required to pay more if you have a high volume of conversations.
Leverage Intercom to scale conversational experiences to every customer without overwhelming your teams.
Drift primarily started off in the live chat space, and got into chatbots fairly recently. Their offering is more specific to a chatbot that books meetings for sales teams. The bot facilitates conversations with leads and qualifies website visitors without using any forms. It also identifies the right sales representative, and schedules a meeting on their calendar.
- Engages people immediately on the website – making it more likely for interested people to share their contact information
- Chatbot and livechat go hand in hand
- Wide range of integrations
- Allows for real-time conversations
- Answer questions quickly with Drift Automation
- The mobile app does not do a fine job of clarifying conversations through push notifications
- The pricing model is expensive
The free pricing plan only covers the live chat. The paid plan starts at $400/month (billed annually) which covers chatbot and livechat.
Make use of Drift’s playbooks to build a bot that helps you book more meetings, and generate more pipeline for your business.
An intuitive tool, Lanbot.io, allows you to build rule-based bots and AI-powered bots to seamlessly interact with your prospective customers and generate high-quality dialogues. Landbot also allows human agents to jump into the conversation mid-way and take control from the chatbot in real-time.
- Offers a drag-and-drop interface to create a chatbot quickly
- Allows you to initiate dialog flows, test and analyze your chatbots without any code, and also integrate it with other online apps and tools
- Personalize your chatbots with brand elements
- Availability of a free version
- Easy to use
- Several integrations available
- Create chatbots for multiple platforms
- Integrations are available only in the paid plan
- Limit on the number of conversations
There are free, paid, and custom plans available. Paid plans start at 30€/month and 100€/month.
If you’re an independent business owner, or a small business, then Landbot is best suited for your needs. Be sure to go through their blogs as well as content to better understand how you can create engaging, and memorable customer experiences
LivePerson is an excellent platform that helps you comfortably build, deploy, and optimize AI-powered chatbots. One of LivePerson’s highlights is that it enables you to leverage advanced analytics for continual optimization and real-time intent detection.
- Allows you to develop custom pre-written statements to send in chat
- Intuitive for users and new employees
- Features such as hyperlinks, canned responses, etc. help in offering a better customer experience
- Ease of use
- Flexibility in communication
- Convenient and rich live chat features
- Reporting is a little challenging to figure out
- The program gets slow when there is a lot of data
- No free trial
The pricing of the platform is based on the scope of automation and the extensiveness of messaging channels. You can book a demo or get more information from their website.
Make sure that your use cases and scope of work is mapped out thoroughly in order to get the most value out of the solution.
Bold360 is one of the most popular bot solutions that leverages natural language processing services to help customer support agents be more efficient, and take over conversations or transition directly from the chatbot to agents.
- Patented NLP technology that can understand customers’ intent without needing any keyword matching
- Various customer engagement tools, internal network systems for HR & IT, APIs and SDKs
- Robust platform with a large number of features
- Tightly integrated live agent
- Hassle-free and quick human handoff
- The platform is not visually appealing
- Haphazard pricing strategy
- Outdated UI/UX
Pricing information is not available online. To get a custom quote, you will need to contact them directly.
Use the platform to scale your conversational marketing to new digital channels, including chatbots, messaging, and your mobile app in over 40 languages.
7. Octane AI
Octane AI is mainly useful if you are looking to integrate a chatbot with a Shopify store via Facebook Messenger. The platform allows you to answer customer questions automatically, send receipts as well as shipping information, and help customers find their preferred products.
- Automated workflows and easy FAQs handling
- Analytics interface to get into the nitty-gritties of customer behavior
- Quick-start templates, surveys, and notifications, along with voice, image, and video support
- The platform offers a wide range of integrations in addition to Slack, Nexmo, Salesforce, Facebook Messenger, and PayPal
- Notification support for abandoned cart and shipping information
- Complex interface and UX takes time getting used to
- Limited to Messenger only
14-day free trial available. Plans starting at $9/month (basic) and at $209/month (pro)
You can create conversational Messenger ads to rope in customers quickly.
8. Flow XO
If you’re looking to build bots without any kind of coding, then FlowXO is another option to choose from. You can build and deploy bots across multiple platforms, while integrating them with other 3rd party platforms as well.
- Integration with a myriad of 3rd party tools
- Drag and drop editor
- Multi channel support
- Free trial available
- No technical expertise needed
- Lack of a good technical documentation
The free version is limited to just 500 interactions. You can sign up for the paid plan at $19/month (5000 interactions). You can also add 25,000 additional interactions for $25/month along with 5 more bots at $10/month.
Make sure you fully test out your bot using their in-built simulator before going live. This will help you spot errors in the conversation flow quickly, and create a water-tight conversational experience for your users.
ManyChat’s bots can be built and deployed on Messenger for use cases on sales, marketing, and customer service. The benefit here is that you also get to broadcast content to your subscribers on Facebook at once via Messenger.
- Facebook Messenger marketing tools to engage with your audience
- No code drag-and-drop bot builder
- Messenger broadcasting for better engagement
- Integrations with Stripe, Zapier, Shopify and others
- Multiple tutorials for easier onboarding
- Ready to use templates
- Restricted to Facebook Messenger only
Both free and paid plans available. Paid plan is fairly standard, with one starting at $10/month for 500 subscribers, and another at $145/month for 25,000 subscribers.
If you wish to make the process of bot-building hassle-free and straightforward, automate your audience engagement on Messenger based on triggers.
Botsify offers a fairly easy to use bot builder to create bots for websites, Messenger and even Slack with ready to use templates. Like other platforms, you can seamlessly handover the chat from a bot to a human agent with Botsify as well.
- Multi channel support
- Chatbot to human handoff available
- Create conversational forms
- Integrates with multiple 3rd party tools
- There is a steep learning curve on how to use the platform
They have a 14 day free trial, followed by a standard plan of $50/month where we do everything by yourself. If you are looking for a fully managed service, the plan starts at $300/month.
Make sure you integrate the chatbot with Slack or Google Sheets to better manage leads generated by the bot while taking full advantage of conversational forms.
Chatfuel is yet another chatbot platform that is limited to just Facebook Messenger. You can leverage NLP to identify intents and utterances, and subsequently share predefined answers. Chatfuel’s key feature is that it stores the users data in the database, which allows you to get back in touch with them in the future, as you see fit.
- Action and Activity Management
- Chatbot Analytics and 3rd Party Integration
- Supports 50 languages
- Poor documentation process
The free version of the platform allows you access to all the features for up to 50 users. The Pro plan starts at $15/month, while the Premium Plan starts at $300/month. The latter comes with unlimited bots for upto 30,000 users.
Use the network extractor to map keywords that your users would relate to for a particular intent and trigger actions seamlessly.
An excellent AI-based chatbot platform, Pandorabots offers comprehensive solutions for full turnkey chatbot development. Known as one of the oldest and largest chats hosting services worldwide, it is a multilingual chatbot.
This is one of those platforms that requires a level of coding expertise. If you have an engineering team, then they can pretty much whip up a custom bot with endless possibilities, as the multilingual platform is pretty flexible. Pandorabots is one of the oldest platforms on this list.
- Completely voice-enabled
- Multilingual support
- Multichannel support
- Availability of RESTful APIs
- Allows you to understand the context and download your code
- Requires coding expertise
- There are limited features in the free version
You may either use a free version or go for paid ones. The cost to build a chatbot in the latter case is $19/month for the developer version, and $199/month for the pro version.
Make sure that you settle on what features are paramount to your use case, before making a decision on the paid plan.
BotsCrew chatbot platform is a fairly popular choice for SMBs and SMEs as they too provide a managed service. The platform also allows you to build the bot yourself, if you choose to do so.
The platform currently offers multilingual bots with native integrations with FB Messenger and website widget. You can connect other platforms like WhatsApp, Twitter, Telegram, etc. on-demand. The bot you create will live on multiple platforms with no need to duplicate it.
The BotsCrew chatbot platform pricing starts at $600.00 per month, but the price can vary based on the integrations, features, and customization that you would like to have. The setup fee usually starts from $3K.
- Code-free chatbot development
- Intuitive and easy to use platform
- Omnichannel support
- Conversation design as a service
- Robust maintenance & support
- There is no mobile app support
- Limited integrations
The pricing of the platform mainly depends on the complexity of the project. They do not have a free version, while the paid plans start at $600/month.
Opt for building a bot around a use case, where you need to deploy it across multiple channels. This will help you take full advantage of Botscrew’s omnichannel capabilities.
Aivo’s bots offer robust customer service and gives you the ability to respond to customers in real-time, through text as well as voice. Bots can be programmed under different rules and conditions across channels to reply appropriately.
Aivo’s AgentBot pricing starts at $240 per month, which includes 1,000 monthly sessions. Additional sessions cost $26 per 100. It also comes with a free 30-day trial.
- Ability to reply via voice functionality
- Offers detailed analytics through the business intelligence tool
- Customer service available in more than 50 languages
- Support across multiple channels
- Integrations with Salesforce, Zapier, Zendesk, and more
- No free version available
Free demo available. The paid version starts at $240/month which covers around 1,000 sessions. You need to pay an additional $26 for 100 more sessions.
As the platform gathers unanswered questions, you can understand what your customers want and train the bot accordingly.
How To Choose The Right Chatbot Platform?
Now that we’ve listed all the platforms, we have listed a few additional points to consider, in order to help you make your evaluation of finding the best chatbot development tool easy.
Identify your Use Cases
The first questions that you need to consider here are – why do you need a chatbot, and what is the use case for using the chatbot.
A thorough understanding of your use case can help you determine what exactly you want out of your chatbot. As the platforms differ in features, pricing, and integrations, and all other factors considered, the chatbots will also vary significantly between a B2B or B2C use case.
It is vital to have the right chatbot integrations in place to get the finest results out of your chatbot platform. Remember, you’re not only automating answers, but also actions. You want to be able to log into Salesforce or Hubspot and see the leads generated by the chatbot with full context of the conversation. This is going to help you jump into stage 2 of the discussion with your prospects instead of spending time qualifying the,
Ensure that the platform you choose allows your current marketing tech stack to integrate seamlessly with your existing workflows.
Natural Language & AI Capabilities
The conversation is one of the most critical components that make chatbots so intriguing for the customers.
You don’t necessarily need to start off with an NLP based bot, if you’re deploying a bot for the first time. However, consider a platform which supports NLP and has AI capabilities for you to expand your use case and chatbot’s capabilities down the line.
The chatbot platform should have the ability to be trained on various intents, entities, utterances and responses, in order to maintain context, reply with the right answer and execute a task seamlessly.
This is one of the most critical aspects when it comes to selecting a chatbot platform is its capacity to train the chatbot to make it smarter. Organizations need a human-independent chatbot solution, that supports continuous learning and gets smarter with each conversation using machine learning and semantic modeling.
Today, most of the chatbot platforms use a combination of a pay-per-call, monthly license fee, and pay-per-performance pricing models. You need to go with a chatbot pricing plan that is predictive, guarantees savings and allows you to pay according to your achieved or non-achieved goals.
Whether you’re choosing a chatbot platform independently or an agency for chatbot development services, you ultimately need to look at all the pros and cons, your use case(s), carry out additional research, and then make a decision. The 14 chatbot platforms listed above, are leading the chatbot space for quite a while now.
Like we stated earlier, chatbots have become more of a necessity than a good-to-have luxury for businesses. In today’s technologically advanced business environment, chatbots help your business stay accessible round the clock, without you having to invest heavily in hiring extra customer support reps.
At Maruti Techlabs, we’ve been developing custom chatbots for our clients over the last 5 years. Having worked with early stage startups, SMBs and Enterprises across 16 industries, our team of conversation designers and bot developers are known for tailoring natural chatbot conversations that give your business a human touch.
We build a chatbot, keeping in mind the specific needs and wants of your audience. Book a free consultation with our team today, and we’d be happy to help you map out use cases that help you automate your processes with conversational AI.