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How Much Does It Cost To Build A Chatbot In 2019?

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.  

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How Chatbots Automate the Working Process [Top 5 Chatbots For Business]]

Chatbots are in high demand because of all the new opportunities for business and customer service. Previously Chatbots.Studio considered the first benefit for businesses, which provides cost reducing — information management optimization. Let’s talk about chatbot efficiency on the automation of working processes.

automation of working processes
Source: https://bit.ly/2CezDTd

 

It is a great chance for entrepreneurs to save money by transferring work tasks over to chatbot and let existing staff concentrate on other important work. A wide range of staff isn’t all that necessary as the work becomes automated. Therefore company profits margins continue to increase with smart team.

I’d like to point out that chatbots aren’t the only way to automate a work routine. Lots of information systems provide the same and sometimes better work automation. However, we will consider how chatbots can take on daily routines from the staff.

chatbots can take on daily routines
Source: https://bit.ly/26zD64P

 

First of all, let’s consider the metrics that measure the effect of automation with chatbots for business:

  • Transactions number executed by one employee;
  • Mistake numbers for one transaction;
  • Timeframes for service providing;
  • Service availability;
  • Client satisfaction.

 

Typical scenarios on how chatbot automates working process:

  • Accepts and handles customer requests. The bot provides consultations, answers on FAQs, and passes the conversation to a live agent;
  • Manages the schedule and queue without personal assistance. The bot accepts and handles new client appointments. Also, it notifies clients about upcoming or past events.

This leads to providing a broad customer service, with always available assistance and quick engagement.

 

Let’s consider some examples of using a bot for automation of working processes according to scenario.

Taking into account our experience, Chatbots.Studio developed the chatbot for the beauty industry that helps make an appointment for a stylist without direct human integration, manages waiting lists, cancels and reschedules appointments and manages stylist availability.

 

How does the bot automate the stylist working process?

  • The stylist doesn’t handle requests from clients. Therefore the stylist doesn’t waste time on appointments and handles more important work;
  • An availability to book services 24/7. A customer can book the service at a convenient time to not disturbing stylist;
  • The stylist doesn’t manage conflicts regarding in the queue. In case of appointment canceling, the bot makes an appointment for a client from the waiting list.

Another one TrackerBot, which tracks orders sent by delivery services like “Ukrposhta”, “Nova Poshta”, “Delivery” and “Meest Express”. Also, delivery bot provides easy to access customer support to resolve any issues quickly.

 

How does bot automate delivery posts staff working process?

Chatbot reduces the workload of call centers solving issues.

  • There is no need to provide support through calls, web or live;
  • The bot handles all FAQs. In case of unexpected question, the bot passes the conversation to a live agent;
  • The bot connects with maps and sends the information regarding the track location to the nearest offices with a work schedule;
  • Bot connects with the backend and presents the costs of delivery.

 

A customer gets the chance, and doesn’t waste time calling support or surfing the Internet for the appropriate information.

As can be seen, businesses can benefit from automation working process with bots. To implement it for businesses correctly, identify metrics of efficiency to get the appropriate results. So, follow me and stay in top of chatbots novelties.

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Top Benefits and Success Measurement [Top 5 Chatbots for Business]

Chatbots.Studio is pleased to announce our latest overview digest on how entrepreneurs can benefit from using chatbots for business. How business wins big from bots — is a major buzzing topic in media.

We will describe each benefit structured with financial indicators. The chain of articles with benefits will be published a few times per week here.

We don’t claim that it is the only, comprehensive list of bot benefits, but it’s one that really boosts business.

There are bots which bring a few benefits for business, for example, the lead generator is able to open new sales channels and gather leads. If you notice that your bot doesn’t refer to the benefits we mentioned below, it may well be worth rethinking if your bot does good work.

Take a look at GrowthBot that brings strong value for marketers and sales gathering appropriate leads.

We divided benefits into two groups according to how bots impact the bottomline: cost reduction and profits increase.

Cost reduction includes following benefits for business:

 

Take a look below on how the chatbot automates stylist’s daily work process.

 

Profits increase includes following benefits for business:

  • New sales channels — a chatbot in messenger as new solution to increase revenue;
  • Cross-selling — a chatbot in messenger sales additional services or goods to existing customers.

 

Take a look at Sephora chatbot that offers goods via KiK messenger.

 

The benefits were identified and explored with metrics for each to understand how it impacts the bottom line. We will consider each benefit with examples to understand how it works with specific business cases.

So, follow me on Medium and be among the first to know how chatbots will restart your business and help it quickly grow.

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Bring Clients from Offline to Chatbot [ 3 Tools and 4 Channels]

Our clients implement bots for business to reduce the costs and increase profits. To get results from the bot, there should be a certain number of active users.

The worst thing can happen with entrepreneurs is losing money without results to show for the money spent, which is applicable for chatbots development as well. That’s why, it is important for us not just to develop the bot, but also share knowledge on how to attract clients to bots.

Let’s focus on how to bring client from offline to bot in messenger.

This article contains the following items:

  • Tools for engagement with customers.
  • Link delivery channels.
  • Common mistakes of using QR codes for business.

 

Tool for engagement with customers

A Chatbot can’t start a conversation without a subscription to a channel with a bot. We need to present a link for customers to lead them to the bot.

Let’s take into consideration how to lead the customer, step-by-step to the chatbot. You can use the standard link or embed it into QR codes. The first step is to present the customer the link with bot inappropriate messenger.

PrivatBank embed link with information into QR code.

PrivatBank QR code
PrivatBank QR code

 

The following action is confirming readiness to start chatting with bots.

Use QR codes correctly and embed information you need to get. For example:

  • Shop identification (the place client scanned QR code).
  • Goods/services that client is interested in.
  • The way how the client finds bot.

 

After the client has started to communicate with the bot, the entrepreneur gets the list of benefits. There are leads subscribed to bot, information about Mobile OS, place and date of scanning QR codes, goods or services the clients are interested in. It allows for creating personalized offers, selling additional services and planning out a marketing strategy.

 

Link delivery channels

 

SMS

It is an expensive and cumbersome way to communicate with clients. Let’s see how to benefit sending a link through SMS and just what can go wrong.

Advantages:

  • SMS can cover a wide range of customers from a client database. Conversion rates are up to 10%.
  • No chance to be banned because customer connects with the bot by themselves.
  • The easy way to implement and expand bots for SMS. There are a lot of services for mailing prospects easily, affordably and quickly.

 

Disadvantages:

  • Expensive messages ( about one cent per message in Ukraine).
  • The limited number of characters, which prevents you from good messaging or engagement with any kind of media.
  • Isn’t possible to send big links.

SMS works well to cover a wide range of prospects. However, there is little chance to gather leads to a community because of no info about the preferable messenger.

E-mail

Despite the huge flow of email every day, e-mail marketing provides high open (about 19$%) and click (about 4%) rates. Also it is the great way to personalize a message, at least, you may know prospect name.

To connect customers to chatbot through email, send them a personalized link in the letter with name and services you provide. It is not necessary to know which preferred messenger, because the bot works through the web as well. Email gives the ability to chat with a live agent as well. It is an expensive way to hold the client and sell the service but works quite well.

Posters

Link embed in QR codes may be located on a visible area and takes up a lot of space. Posters cover only a few advertiser’s needs, such us service adv and gathering leads through QR codes to preferable messenger. The benefits for the customer can be a discount or special offer that the customer gets after scanning QR codes.

Poster with QR code placed on visible area.

 

So, as can be seen, posters are effective way to attract the customer from offline to bots.

Price tags

QR codes placed on price tags allow for identifying goods, location and the time where the code was scanned.

Sharp’s QR code
Sharp’s QR code on price tag. Source: https://bit.ly/2Mq9iq8

Offer this value to encourage customer to connect with bot, for example:

  • Personal discount.
  • Mark of goods absence.
  • Report about goods/service bad quality.

 

Common mistakes of using QR codes for business

 

The Messenger isn’t specified.

We faced cases of QR codes without information as to where it leads to. Let the customer know that links lead to the messenger with a bot but not to a mobile application. Additional actions like authorization, providing access to personal data aren’t really that necessary for bots.

QR code with info
The good example of QR code with info where it leads to. Source: https://bit.ly/2nS9uzQ

 

Customers don’t know what they can get from QR codes and bot subscriptions.

Let them know what they can get by scanning the code. For example:

  • Discount card.
  • One-time bonus.
  • Service on a priority basis.
  • Drawing on prices.
QR code with benefits
The good example of QR code with benefits for followers. Source: https://bit.ly/2nVXNbc

No Call to Action

Ask customers to scan the code and connect to a chatbot in the mentioned messenger.

CTA with QR code
The good example of CTA with QR code. Source: https://amzn.to/2N1lLNc

 

We describe only the one tool for how to bring customers from offline to online — link, there are different ways to attract customers to the bots. Find that which works best for you and use it correctly. Also, provide benefits to the customers and encourage them to scan a code and connect with the bots.

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Why End Users are Frustrated with AI Chatbots (and What to Do)?

Have you ever met really stupid chatbots, that don’t understand what you want and thus pretend to have Intelligence? I do, and many people I am talking about chatbots have had the same experience.

Error bot
One of my potential clients mentioned, ‘all the bots have been invented to shortcut support costs’ — that’s the impression users could get from a poorly designed chatbot. So why does this happen:
Inflated expectations from AI bots

There’s a lot of buzz about AI chatbots that are mainly presented as robots that could provide a high level of human-like communication. Bots have they own characters and have their faces either human-like or robot-like.

So, a high level of expectations mostly driven by vendors of NLP engines who would love to promote their technology, which is still not that mature. If someone from the vendors is reading this post, could you share examples of general intelligence projects built based on your solutions? And yet clients expect to have true intelligence while talking to the bot.

Incorrect training methodology

AI bots require training. Training means helping a bot better recognize intent and context in which it is running a dialog. Practically a system administrator (NLP, Conversation expert — whatever you want to call him/her) should review the failovers and enhance the rules in NLP engine to better recognize user intents.

And that is the dead loop: on the one hand, you need to have a good corpus conversation to train your NLP engine on the relevant conversations and on the other. On the other, the user will not start talking to your bot until it is good enough and thus you could not get a good enough sense of the conversations.

So, what can be done with all of that?

Actually, there are 2 options:

  • Have better tools and processes
  • Avoid using AI chatbots

 

Better process of AI bot training

That’s something we can do right now without waiting for the big players to update their solutions or making costly investments in data science.

a) Use all of your existing conversations with end clients to train your NLP engine from day one. Whatever you have: call records, mail conversations or queries to live agent to you FB, everything could be used to train your NLP before the day zero.

b) If there is no corpus of historical conversations you can use live agents, who would follow the defined conversation scripts. Once enough training has been provided, you can slowly bring automatic responses.

c) Involving a live agent immediately when the intent is not recognized or a client is not happy with the response.

The approach is costlier but friendlier for end-users and differs from the advertised flow — launch your AI bot and train it once it gets going.

Improving the NLP engines

NLP Engines will also become better and better for example. For example, the NLP engines should support common misspellings work better while there is a growing number of intents in the system. In addition, they should self-learn from all conversations that are in the system (not only in one account) and provide a recommendation of what is missing in the bot. I personally have started to lose the difference between NLP engines specially for English, they look almost the same from NLU perspective.

If you read all of that and still have a wiliness to read for another minute, please ask yourself — do I REALLY need an AI chatbot?
  1. Many users expect to get a very specific service from the bot (book an appointment, buy a ticket, issue the order and etc.) they do not expect a bot to handle all possible conversations. It’s like imagine yourself going to the supermarket — do you expect a salesperson to tell jokes or chat with you about Deep Learning? Probably not and the same goes with a bot. In case you can avoid having AI in your bot, why are you making things overly complicated?
  2. NLP for English and Western European Languages is good enough. It’s very much driven by the market demand and nature of the language itself (it is structured), while there is not many (or there are simply not available) engines for other languages, almost nothing exists for Ukrainian. So, what the language carefully before building a AI bot on that language.
  3. You need to have enough conversations to train the bot even from the very beginning. If you do not have a good corpus of conversation, refer to the tricks above or do not do AI bot. Recently one potential client contacted me to build AI FAQ bot for his new real-estate business. I clearly recommended to him to not do that, as lack of conversational data will lead to a poor experience and waste of time and money.

To be honest, there are cases when you need to equip your bot with AI for sure:
  1. The bot interface does not support any buttons. WhatsApp and SMS are the most common examples of that case. You will HAVE to use AI in that case.
  2. There is a lot of content to share with your end-users, so building a bot with the buttons and distinct conversation is not the issue For example, a big FAQ will need to have this kind of scenario.

 

We are building bots in Chatbots.Studio on a daily basis and we are excited about it. The key idea for this article was to help clients make a fully aware decision about the type of chatbot they need. We see each and every day how bots are taking a more prominent role in the digital worlds and it is our shared goal to make it better for our end-clients.

 

I would love to hear your cases and stories about the issues that your are facing while building AI chatbots.

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Marketing for Chatbots Companies [10 Ways to Get Inbound Traffic]

Chatbots.Studio is a highly specialized agency with an exclusive and dedicated focus on chatbot development. Once, I asked myself — how others work in this niche and in what ways do they attract clients?

Below you can find info about inbound and outbound channels of interaction. The analysis also includes the ways in which companies present themselves and conclusions based on the observed information.

Before sharing the information itself, let me show you the methodology we used to collect and analyze information.

We checked which channels have been used by chatbot development companies. The right side explains why it is important to include it to our analysis.

Why did we choose that criteria?

  • Blog — prospects could find the site in the fastest possible way if the blog includes SEO keywords.
  • Medium and Quora — both resources have good indexing by Google. There are easy ways to show expertise. Amount and quality of posts and show us professionalism and readiness to interact with the audience.
  • Crunch — an easy way to find your target audience representing expertise and being in the list of companies with services you provide.
  • Clutch — there are collected services companies. An easy way to represent itself and find potential client.
  • Social Media — not specialized platforms with wide range of dissemination of information. Acts like word of mouth.
  • Press — editions could lead prospects to find the site in search systems.
  • E-mail marketing — we checked the opportunity to subscribe and get the email of a prospect.
  • Live interaction — meetups.
  • Rank is calculated using a combination of average daily visitors to this site and pageviews on this site over the past 3 months.
  • SEO keywords — ideas and topics that define what your content is about.

 

Following companies were selected by:

  • Keywords in Google search: chatbot development agency, chatbot company, chatbot development companies.
  • Quora list of chatbots development agencies (or chatbot development companies).
  • Clutch list of Top Artificial Intelligence agencies.

 

The investigation is open for your consideration. If you have any idea of how to improve it or I missed the good company, please drop a comment this article.

What does mean +, +-, -?

+ agency actively gathers traffic using the mentioned communication channel

+- agency рas inactive account or almost doesn’t work with channel

— agency doesn’a t use communication channel

 

So, take a look at the table below to learn more about agency strategies to attract traffic.

Chatbot Development Companies Strategies
Chatbot Development Companies Strategies

So what could we learn from the information mentioned above?

We observed several interesting strategies for using inbound marketing by chatbot development companies.

  • Creation of their own media and related resources. Taking into acthe count global market, a few companies gather traffic through their own free platforms, which allows them to publish content and share expertise. It thereby creates the image of authoritative chatbot developers but requires additional efforts.
  • Well-known media also is a great way to promote content aside from Facebook, LinkedIn or other curated blog sites. Soon you will get more clicks or redirects to your main site. About 70% of the mentioned companies use it as an opportunity to express themselves.
  • One more method to attract attention and show deep expertise is providing training courses for entrepreneurs and junior devs.

 

Surfing the related resources, we noticed another a infrequently used strategy, as being the educator of a small company (Oh my bot!). They don’t care about customers, as they are provided by the parent company. This approach works with, for example, Oh My Bot!, KRDS’ subsidiary. Some of them provide chatbot development as a part of software and marketing services, for example, Vis-a-vis.

On average, each company uses 3 channels of communication. The following is the most popular:

Medium. Agencies post articles related to their expertise: AI, Machine Learning, bots’ benefits for industries, marketing solutions. We divided agencies that post on Medium into few types:

  • active: 50+ claps and 200+ followers. Average 2 articles per week.
  • less active: — appear in searches or have only few posts with no more than 50 claps.

 

Quora. Agencies posts articles in section “Technologies”, “Science”. Most agencies don’t have company account. Nevertheless CEOs public questions and answers on their own behalf while building their human brand. Marketers use it to build expertise and authority on a chosen topic. Posts content is the same as Medium. Types of agencies involving to Quora:

  • active: publish posts with the same content to Medium. Each post has 50+ views and 5+ shares
  • less active: company representative asked or answered to questions
  • inactive: company name appears in searches with keywords: chatbot, chatbot development, and chatbot agencies.

 

Twitter. Mostly there are posts and shares about participation in tech events, news, last projects. Agencies use it to promote brand posting latest tech news, activities and showcasing projects not only to find clients but also represent themselves as an employer. Types of chatbot dev agencies on Twitter:

  • active: 200+ followers, 2+ shares and 5+ per week posts
  • less active: twitter isn’t the main channel of communication. The account includes only a few posts or the last post was published more than month ago.
  • inactive: an agency doesn’t have an account or the account is empty.

 

We keep working to investigate how chatbot development agencies get inbound traffic. Want to read more great content from Chatbot.Studio? Click on the left and let us know in the comments below.

We love to develop chatbots. Feel free to contact us if you want to improve your business with chatbots, and we will conduct an assessment in 2 business days for FREE and a demo bot in 1 week.

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