Love them or hate them, artificial intelligence (AI) powered chatbots are here to stay. This article will explain what AI chatbots apps are and how you can benefit from using one. What’s more, I will also show you some of the best AI chatbots software currently available.
Ready to dive straight in? Great, let’s go!
What is an AI Chatbot?
Chatbots are software applications that leverage AI technology to undertake online automated chat conversations instead of using human agents. Chatbots generally respond to users’ questions either using text only or text-to-speech, with text chat being most common on websites.
Thankfully, AI chatbot software has advanced to the point where it is highly reliable and offers an excellent user experience, almost akin to chatting to a real person.
What Are the Benefits of Using AI Chatbots Software?
If customer service is something your business devotes considerable resources to, an AI-powered chatbot platform can bring you so many advantages over using human chat agents, for example:
- Enhanced customer experience, e.g., immediate response to frequent queries with no waiting for the next available chat operator.
- Many customers prefer to chat online rather than phoning a helpline.
- The latest chatbots are very advanced and offer human-like interactions.
- Reduced need for a team of human agents, thereby cutting staffing costs and freeing up staff time for more productive tasks.
- Chatbots operate 24/7 daily without any coffee or lunch breaks.
- Chatbots can capture the customer’s contact details for subsequent follow-up whenever questions cannot be answered and no human agents are available.
As with most things in life, chatbots also have a couple of disadvantages:
- If the chatbot does not quickly give the answers people are looking for, they will walk away, particularly if they know it is a chatbot they are communicating with. However, careful configuration of the chatbot will help to avoid this.
- The best chatbot software comes at a significant price, so you need to gauge how much money it will save your business or how much extra revenue it brings in.
However, overall, the advantages of using AI chatbot software outweigh the disadvantages, especially if your human chat agents are perpetually busy.
My Picks of the Best AI Chatbot Software
Many AI chatbot software solutions are available, making choosing the right one quite daunting. In addition, features, quality, and price vary considerably, making that task more difficult.
To help your search for a suitable solution for your business, listed below are eight of the best AI chatbots software solutions currently available.
HubSpot Chatbot Builder
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As with many of HubSpot’s offerings, the chatbot builder is free, although you do need to be using their CRM (much of which is also free.) It allows you to automate live chats and instantly answer customer queries, capture appointments, or redirect them to appropriate parts of your website.
Furthermore, HubSpot Chatbot Builder stores chat answers in the CRM. The stored chats can be used to trigger certain automations and follow up on leads. Furthermore, the chat design is customizable, so it is easy to keep it consistent with your branding. Best of all, you don’t need any coding knowledge to build chatbots.
HubSpot Chat Builder is a rule-based system, so therefore technically is not AI. However, code snippets allow you to integrate with other AI bots, such as Google’s Dialogflow, thereby giving you a robust suite of marketing, sales, and customer relationship tools.
Overall, HubSpot Chat Builder is an excellent springboard to getting an automated chat on your website, especially if you already use HubSpot CRM.
HubSpot Chatbot builder is free. However, to use it, you will also need to use HubSpot CRM, which also has an excellent feature-rich free option. HubSpot CRM paid plans start from $45 per month.
Drift is AI chatbot software targeted toward larger businesses looking to streamline their customer support teams with automated chats. As such, it gives you the facility to combine live chat with an automated custom chatbot, so questions the bot is unable to answer can be redirected to a human agent.
Drift’s developers have literally used billions of conversations to train and optimize its AI for customer engagement and conversions. That AI is coupled with rule-based automation to help answer customer queries and drive sales. Furthermore, it integrates with many email marketing and CRM solutions, thereby taking your customer service automation to the next level.
A free version of Drift is available but unfortunately it does not include chatbots.
With respect to the paid plans, the developer of Drift does not publish the prices, so you’ll (ironically) need to use the chatbot on their website to get those. However, for indicative purposes, the entry-level plan, Premium, starts at around $600 per month. That price includes ten users.
Zendesk Answer Bot®
Zendesk Answer Bot® is AI-driven chatbot software that answers customer questions quickly and efficiently. Any queries it is unable to answer can be automatically redirected to a human agent, and if the agent is unavailable, the software can capture the customer’s contact details.
Depending on the plan purchased, between fifty and five hundred answers are possible. Various methods are available to deliver those answers, including email, live chat, tickets, social media, etc. Furthermore, the software can work with multiple languages (eighteen are currently available.)
Thanks to a ‘Flow Builder,’ setting up workflows in Zendesk Answer Bot® is simple, so you will be up and running with automated chatbots on your site in no time.
Zendesk Answer Bot® comes as an integral part of Zendesk for Service, which includes various other tools to help streamline and automate your customer service efforts.
Three tiers of Zendesk for Service are available:
- Suite Team costs $49 and includes up to 50 AI-powered automated answers
- The next tier, Suite Growth, costs $79 for up to 100 answers
- The most expensive tier is Suite Professional. This costs $99 and is good for up to 500 answers
All prices are per month per agent and are subject to an annual commitment.
Next on my list of best AI chatbots software is Intercom. This complete sales, marketing, and support solution includes conversational, resolution, and/or custom chatbots, depending on which plan you purchase. In common with many other software packages on this list, the bots combine AI and live chat to address customer queries in the fastest possible time.
Your customers will particularly welcome Intercom’s conversational chatbot as it provides more human-like customer experiences. In addition, the resolution bot can serve answers in thirty-two languages, allowing you to service a truly global market.
It is possible to configure who the software chats with, while answers can be based on specific criteria such as type of business, customer spend, etc.
Like Zendesk, Intercom includes many other features to automate your sales, marketing, and support efforts all in one package.
The following Intercom plans include chatbots:
- Support: conversational and resolution bots plus live chat for support
- Engage: custom bots
- Convert: conversational bots plus live chat for sales
Annoyingly, like Drift, Intercom is very secretive about its prices and does not publish them on its website. Therefore, you will need to contact them directly for further information – via a chatbot, of course, so they can cunningly capture your email address.
The AI behind LivePerson’s conversational chatbot has been ‘trained’ using messaging transcripts gathered over more than two decades. As such, it can hold a ‘conversation’ better than many of its rivals, thereby giving an excellent, human-like experience for users.
As you can guess from the name, LivePerson also integrates with human agents whenever necessary to ensure chats are brought to a satisfactory conclusion.
Creating chatbots from scratch is quick and easy as you don’t need any coding experience. Furthermore, the software integrates with a wide variety of messaging channels, including Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Apple Business Chat, etc.
LivePerson’s analytics tools enable you to monitor a range of metrics in real-time, including bot containment rates and conversion times, sales-driven by bots, and more. This data is helpful for several purposes, such as refining your bots, market research, etc.
LivePerson is another company that is shy to display its software prices publicly. Therefore, you will need to approach them directly to discuss pricing based on your individual needs.
My list of best AI chatbots software continues with ManyChat. Suppose you are looking for a way of adding automated conversations to your Facebook Messenger, Instagram Direct Messages, or by sending them via SMS. In that case, this could be the ideal solution for you.
ManyChat can send simple automated messages aimed at generating product sales, capturing appointments, sending order status updates, etc. Creating your bots is easy thanks to a drag-and-drop builder and a selection of pre-made templates. Incidentally, those templates are tailored to specific industries.
Moreover, ManyChat is AI chatbot software solution that allows Shopify-based eCommerce store owners to message customers through Facebook Messenger or Instagram Direct Messages. For example, you can configure your chatbot to welcome new customers to your store, while keywords help direct them quickly to products that may be of interest to them.
A free version of ManyChat is available, although it has a limitations on the number of contacts (max. 1,000), customer segment tags, automated drip sequences, team members, and keyword triggers. It also excludes one-tap data collection or A/B testing. However, the free version is perfect for small businesses or if you just want to try out the software before buying.
The Pro version removes all the limitations and adds many more features. Pricing is dependent upon how many contacts you expect to interact with. For example, up to 500 contacts costs $15 per month, up to 2,500 costs $45, etc.
Ada is software that allows you to create AI chatbots capable of providing tailored responses based on information provided by customers, including their interests and intent. As such, your customers will receive a human-like experience while your real human service agents can focus on more pressing tasks.
The software is super-easy to configure, and building chatbots is a breeze thanks to an intuitive drag-and-drop builder. If you wish, you can also liven up messages using GIFs.
Ada integrates seamlessly with your live chat. That means anything the chatbot cannot resolve can be immediately dealt by an agent. Alternatively, the chatbot can capture the customer’s contact details whenever no agent is available.
Furthermore, Ada integrates with various messaging channels and customer service software solutions, plus it can access your team’s calendar to automatically schedule appointments.
Unfortunately, Ada is another AI chatbot software solution where pricing is only available directly from the developer. Sorry!
Service Cloud Einstein
Last but not least on my list of best AI chatbots software is Service Cloud Einstein.
Service Cloud Einstein is not an AI chatbot software solution in its own right. Instead, it is an add-on for Salesforce Service Cloud, part of the Salesforce CRM platform. That means you get advanced AI chatbots plus a full arsenal of other tools for streamlining your customer service and support operations.
With respect to AI chat functionality, Service Cloud Einstein equips you with advanced conversational chatbots capable of solving most customer queries and redirecting the ones it can’t to human agents.
Naturally, Service Cloud Einstein integrates seamlessly with all other Salesforce software products, allowing you to automate and streamline many elements of your business that are traditionally labor-intensive.
Service Cloud Einstein costs $50 per user per month (billed annually.) However, to use it, you also need to be using either the Enterprise or Unlimited plan of Salesforce Service Cloud, which costs $150 and $300 per user per month, respectively, so budget at least $200 per month for this software.
Such pricing renders Salesforce Einstein more suitable for larger businesses.
What’s Your Favorite AI Chatbot Software?
AI chatbot software is an excellent way to quickly address your customers’ queries, no matter where they are in the world or in what time zone. Not only does this help improve customer experience and retention, but it can also significantly improve conversions.
Are you already using AI-powered chatbot software to interact with your customers? If so, which software are you using? And if not, has this article inspired you to consider using AI bots in the future to streamline your customer service activities and offer users the best possible online experience when using your site?