I used to be asked about it several times a week by clients who want to understand the business of chatbot creation. The price really depends on the effort required to build the bot, as we don’t sell pre-made chatbot templates.
Spoiler alert: it will take between $200 USD to $15k USD to build a single chatbot. If we’re building the chatbot platform, or self-made data science is required, the price could be even higher.
So, let’s take a look at the key drivers impacting the price for custom chatbot development.
The first one is the channel in which the bot should function. I mean where the bot will actually do its work. Is it a website, SMS, some of the existing messaging platforms? The cheapest ones are FB, Telegram, Viber, Web and others when it’s possible to use the platform UI components to make rule-based conversations. There are even plenty of FREE FB chatbots templates. Here’s an example https://templates.botstar.com/. In reality, it will be required to customize such a template a little, so that’s why the minimum price for a chatbot is about 200 bucks. More complexity comes when the bot for WhatsApp or SMS is required to be built. It means that there are no UI controls and additional effort will be required to train the bot and fix all possible flows of the conversation. Such bots are starting from around $1000 USD.
The next point that has to be considered is the complexity of the conversation. That relates to a) the number of branches in the conversation tree as well as b) the number of questions that have to be addressed by the chatbot (in case of FAQ chatbot) and c) the need to support the unstructured dialog with the end user. Training the bot to support several hundred FAQs will require an additional thousand USD. Free based conversations will also add about 500 USD to the price list. While structured conversations will not impact the chatbot cost significantly. Some bots could have a specific task related to the use of Artificial Intelligence. We’ve had requests to understand dreams and automate confession. That’s a separate task which requires corresponding data sets and the training of machine learning models. It’s hard to estimate the price here, but that kind of bot will cost from $10k USD and more. On the other hand, the bot could be made more intelligent while enriching with sentiment analysis, which does not require being built from scratch and is available via API (that is an additional 500 for projects)
Bots are rarely working in isolation, so in most of cases, integration with back-end systems is required. Typically, chatbots are integrated with a CRM, ticketing, live agent solutions or some other business specific solution. You would need to account for $1k-2k USD for each such integration.
Bots are very language sensitive, everything is pretty much in English. It’s widely supported by all the vendors. It’s also fine with the major European languages such as French, German and Spanish. But what about others, and even non-European languages? That’s a more complicated story. If one of the trusted providers has the support of your language, then it makes sense to invest in custom bot development. Otherwise, I would not even recommend doing that if your bot requires any bit of an AI component.
I would also recommend that you look at my blogpost related to the total cost of ownership for a chatbot solution and the criteria for selecting a chatbot development provider.