If you are an iPhone user, you must be families with this conversation; “Hey Siri, please wake me up at 6AM tomorrow” or “Please call mummy” etc…Have you ever thought what is Siri or Google assistance? Or have you ever imagine how such programs can be helpful in generating leads or in improving your business or in increasing your revenue? Yes, it is possible! Siri or Google assistance are one type of Chatbot which can help users to interact with their devices to perform a specific action. In this article, we will talk about various chatbot available in market and will discuss about its applications in your business.
If you are using internet for getting most of the works done, you might have surely come across the chatbot. May be you haven’t known it by that name, but how about Apple’s Siri, or Google Assistant or even Alexa? Rings a bell?? Be it banking system’s website or travel booking portals, customer support or even education and entertainment domain, their use cases are virtually endless.
What Is Chatbot?
Chatbot is a computer program or an artificial intelligence which conducts a conversation via auditory or textual methods. In simpler words, it’s a Artificial Intelligence (AI) software written to simulate a typical human conversation with a user in typically English language through texts (messaging applications, websites etc.) or through voice (telephone). A chatbot is believed to be the most sophisticated and natural way of expression and interaction between a human and a machine. However, strictly technologically speaking, a chatbot is only based on the way human question – answering and conversation is evolved naturally. A chatbot uses the workflows you set up to understand and respond to customers, putting the information they need directly in front of them as quickly as possible.
Here is one great example of Chatbot:
How do Chatbots Work?
Okay so we know what chatbots are but how exactly do they work? In simpler terms, the core of operation of a chatbot consists of two tasks; User Request Analysis & returning the response. Let’s try to elaborate both a bit.
User Request Analysis: As the name suggests, the first task of a chatbot is to identify the user’s intent and extract sufficient information. The chatbot then processes the text (or voice) received from the user through a complex algorithm called as Natural Language Processing (NLP). Identifying the requirement of a user is very important task as it is impossible to provide the correct response without understanding the task in the first place.
Returning the response: As soon as request of the user is identified, it must be analyzed and an appropriate response must be submitted quickly. The response may be as easy as a predefined generic text or a data stored from interaction history and previous analyses or even a further question/query to clearly understand the request.
Are Chatbots of any Benefits?
A chatbot relies on the ability of a machine to understand human’s text or speech and this is where the limitation lies. It is practically impossible to take all the complexities related to the usage of human idioms, metaphors (add to that smileys) into account while designing algorithm.Despite this hurdle, chatbots are becoming extremely sophisticated and popular by streamlining conversation between a human and a machine enhancing the customer experience. They have provided the companies with new way of communicating with their customers and an opportunity to increase their operational efficiency by cost cutting in customer services.
Additionally, developing the chatbots has become so simpler now that you don’t require a computer science degree or coding experience. There are several web sites who offer to create a basic conversation assistant using drag and drop tools. Now we will take you to 7 best interactive chatbot available in market to make your automation process easier and even better.
#1 collect.chat :
Although many of the websites have interesting designs and content with impressive traffic, where they lack is in under-utilizing the potential to tap this traffic. This is where collect.chat can help you. collect.chat gives you the opportunity to do just that as you can customize your chatbot to guide the visitor, collect feedback and prompt him to spread the word. collect.chat presents a new interactive way of collecting data and is one of the easiest ways to add a chat interface on your website.
Their chatbot qualifies and converts visitors on a website to customers by engaging them in a conversation which is a far better approach as compared to filling boring forms. It uses a drag and drop feature and requires zero coding experience to add the chatbot to your website. It has many high quality inbuilt templates that can be customized according to your website content and relevance. The chatbot is available in multiple languages and is fully automated and highly interactive optimized to increase conversation with the visitors. It has been mostly used for building email lists, marketing surveys, collecting feedbacks and scheduling appointments.
Subscription Packages: Like many of the websites collect.chat offers free trial where responses are limited to 30 per month and data storage for 30 days. You can also upgrade it to Lite or Standard subscription costing $19 and $39 per month respectively. Lite subscription increases the data storage for upto 90 days with 500 responses per month. With standard subscription, you get unlimited storage and 1500 responses per month. Currently collect.chat is offering 3 Months free subscription for yearly payment.
#2 Pandorabots :
The Pandorabots platform is one of the oldest and largest chatbot hosting services in the world and is based on an open scripting language called Artificial Intelligence Markup Language (AIML). AIML is a XML-based simple and easy to learn language and doesn’t require experience in computer coding. Despite its simplicity, AIML is capable to develop some of the most complex conversational assistants in use today. A few examples of the AIML based chatbots are Kik, Telegram and Messenger apart from the award winning Mitsuku chatbot. Pandorabots has built more than 300,000 chatbots so far and provides both DIY bot as well as professional services for custom chatbot development for large global organizations.
Subscription Packages: Pandorabots comes in three editions; Free trial, Developer and Enterprise subscription. Free trial is a good starting point to get a feel of the platform and supports up to two bots and 1000 messages/month. Want more? Well you can opt for the developer subscription which can get you up to 10 bots and 100,000 messages per month at the rate of $0.0025 per message. It is perhaps the only website which supports per message payment. Additionally, they also offer an Enterprise subscription which provides a custom development on instance & environment and bot services with flexible API usage.
#3 SnatchBot :
SnatchBot debuted in May 2017 and offers a platform to make chatbots by embedding User Interface controls like buttons, images and menus. The SnatchBot store is a market place and consists of bot templates and bot directory. In the Bot template section, one can access task specific and pre-built bots designed for different sectors such as banking, travel, E-commerce etc. All you have to do is to select a template and customize it (if needed) to suit as per your requirement and start using the bot right away. The Bot Directory on the other hand consists of established bots which can be added with a single click to your application. The SnatchBot platform offers supervised machine learning by analyzing the spots (problematic sentences) where the chatbot’s response can be tweaked to arrive at the correct response resulting in a refined and successful model.
Subscription Packages: Although SnatchBot’s Bot building is fully free featuring unlimited bots, messages and support; users can opt for Pro Plan at the rate of $30 per month to remove SnatchBot’s branding and get Premium technical support.
#4 Botsociety :
Botsociety allows its users to design for all major platforms such as Facebook and Messenger and even supports custom platform. It optimizes tools for each platform to assure that the design works as intended. Botsociety primarily designs the conversation with “Bot says, user says” philosophy and adopts drag and drop messages to play with the design to provide best conversation experience to users. It also provides a clipboard to store a message thereby making it easy to reuse it by inserting it anytime it is needed.It is based on multi user approach and the team can consist of as many users as needed and real time editing allows multiple users to work at the same time on a project and instantly see the changes. Additionally, the designs can be tested with real users by receiving feedback and these tests are recorded for keeping track of all the changes along with their response. It also supports exporting the designs in PDF, Excel and video formats which in turn can be shared.
Subscription Packages: The Botsociety provides a free trial along with the monthly paid Professional and Enterprise subscriptions. For designers who are just getting started, the free trial supports unlimited designs and 30 messages per design and 1 export. For full time and experienced designers, the Professional subscription is currently priced at $29 per month per user after holiday discount and provides unlimited designs, messages and exports. The Enterprise subscription is aimed at bigger teams seeking advanced features with dedicated support and training.
#5 Botsify :
Botsify is another chatbot builder platform for creating chatbots for your website and has a separate category for chatbots for facebook integration. Botsify provides in-app integrations including Google Sheets, TSS Feed, ZenDesk, etc which makes it easy to adopt and implement in your website and comes fully documented around each feature. Intelligent algorithms like query matching and machine learning keeps the chatbot updated and evolved as the correspondence progresses. Botsify excels in seamless integration with several platforms and supports live chats with Facebook Messenger, Amazon Alexa and Google Home. Additionally, it has a website chatbot which can be customized and integrated with any website using a javascirpt code.
All the messages which the chatbot fails to answer are recorded and can be used to teach the chatbot over time. There often comes a time when chatbot is unable to respond to a query, and this is where the botsify holds out. It has a human fallback feature which turns off the chatbot and lets a human takeover temporarily when the chatbot is having a difficult time.
Subscription Packages: Botsify lets you a 14 days free trial where you can connect to as many as 30,000 users through a single chatbot. The Pro package comes with a subscription fee of $50 per month gives unlimited access to pretty much every feature and offers 24/7 technological support.
#6 Heek :
Heek is a platform that lets you create bots for making your own website. It offers you a selection of the best design and templates according to the business activity. It has a number of features for presenting your products, services or team from all types of industry. It consists of a large variety of images to suit your webpage and beautiful templates to suit your taste. The chatbots create a webpage with modern look and feel and gives daily inputs on how to optimize your web content. It optimizes the website for different search engines so that they can find you and help you get more traffic and trust. Not only traffic, it promises to get you more visibility by converting visitors into client. Once the website is developed, it will be optimized across different platforms such as smartphones, tablets or computers.
Subscription Packages: It offers you the option of creating your own page with Business subscription prices at $19.9 per month which includes 1 pro website and its optimization for gathering more traffic and generating commercial leads with traffic statistics. Additionally you can hire a web designer to create your website along with photo shoots and optimization.
#7 Flow XO :
Flow XO allows its users to customize the chatbot as well as its workflows to suit their business’ particular needs. It can be used to either do mundane tasks such as greeting the website visitors and as a conversation starter or it can be developed as a technically advanced bot understanding the common phrases and requests associated with your industry. Flow XO has sufficient tools to create a chatbot with all the features required to effectively communicate with customers of a particular industry before directing them to the most appropriate point of contact.
Flow XO can be used as a virtual welcome mat by providing a friendly greeting before guiding the visitors through the website. It has a scope to gather information by asking a series of simple questions and validating the answers provided. The chatbot can even respond to simple queries or make a seamless transition to live chat with complex queries when chatbot isn’t able to assist the visitors. Flow XO also supports human intervention to step in to a conversation if necessary for a temporary duration to complete the conversation thereby aiding huge help to improve the efficiency of the customer service team.
Subscription Packages: Flow XO supports flexible pricing to cater to the requirements of different industry sizes. To begin with, you can start for free to check all the features and get up to 5 bots, 500 interactions and 2 weeks of logs. For professionals, you can opt for the Standard Plan for $19 per month with 3 months of logs, 5000 interactions and 15 bots. Additionally you can use their add-on features to add 5 bots and 25,000 interactions for $10 and $25 per month respectively.
Final Words on Chatbots and their Use
Let’s face it, no matter how efficient a chatbot is, it merely simulates human behavior and can’t really replace a human. It’s no doubt that the chatbots offers a quick and cost effective solution to mundane routine works in almost all industries, they have a dark side as well. There have been instances in the past of the chatbots being a bully or racist (Microsoft’s twitter bot “Tay” did cause a lot of issues a couple of years ago). The concerns of hacking or stealing private data have become really pronounced these days and chatting with machine can be annoying at times and spiral out of control. As is the case with almost all technological advances, it takes a few years to get fully evolved, accustomed and accepted. Many websites providing fast & easy development of the chatbot have contributed to their ever increasing popularity and it’s safe to say that they are here to stay. You might love them or hate them; you won’t be able to ignore them.