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All You Wanted to Know About Chatbot Platforms

While the global zeitgeist is often filled with movies, stories and news about the impending takeover of human jobs by robots, this may be closer to fiction than fact. Certainly, most people embrace robots in their lives.Whether it is asking Siri for the weather or using bots to book flights, robots are already a key part of human existence.


On the scale of 1 to Terminator, chatbots are actually impotent when it comes to global domination. Currently, AI-driven chatbots as a bot subclass can hardly conquer the world, but they can massively improve your business’ bottom line.

Why all the noise about chatbots?

‘Bot’ (short for ‘robot’) is a program that imitates a human activity. Chatbots imitate human conversation to a certain degree of success. It’s a conversational interface. They are best used for suggestions or answering questions on any topic: news, forex rates, a transport timetable, goods and service ordering, general information regarding operation of a company, and much more.

How chatbots solve business objectives

First of all, let’s define why your business may need a chatbot.

To implement a cost effective growth strategy. Customer support is costly. Most small and middle-sized entrepreneurs just cannot afford it. Automated communication with clients via chatbots is a cost-effective solution that, in addition, allows for scalability.


To capture leads. Competition for lead capture grows daily, especially in the eCommerce and FinTech fields. In that sense, chatbots can be a great way to capture a wavering customer. They provide an instantaneous and more effective way to communicate with customers on the platform they prefer (including various messengers such as. Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp etc.).



1.To speed up customer service by automating customer requests. Most routine questions can be answered by a chatbot, 24 hours, 7 days a week. This increases the quality of customer service and saves money for business (this leaves managers to deal only with unordinary, complex issues).

2.To improve customer service and interaction. They act as a great conduit to potential or current customers when all of your other resources are exhausted.

3.To boost customer loyalty. An intelligently developed chatbot can improve the customer experience dramatically. Just look at the stats below!

The effectiveness of customer service chatbots at resolving customers' issues in 2017

Bad human customer service can damage companies.

Type of bots

Bot-helpers. Are you too lazy to check out  the weather on the Internet by yourself? Want to find out the best hotels in your area? That’s where bot-helpers come in. They provide requested information on any issue. eBay chatbot, skyscanner chatbot and others are some of the more famous ones.

Bots for fun (e.g. text games). They are widely used in online MMORPG games.

Bots for business. They can be integrated into a CRM, allowing a company to improve and automate non-essential processes, e.g., by sending notifications or emails.

Bots on news portals. They are used in the media sphere and serve to keep up your audience up to date with the latest content, such as articles, videos, etc.

Bots for eCommerce companies. They solve typical clients’ problems and answer frequently asked questions.

How to make the right choice for your business?

Here’s the important part. Your answers to these questions will help to decide whether or not you will need a chatbot and which kind.



-Who is your target audience and which platform does it usually use (Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Telegram, or any other)?

-What is the typical usage scenario for your customers (possible questions and answers)?

-What functions does your chatbot need to perform (e.g. engage/retain/consult/ entertain customers, or answer their FAQs)?

-Which business needs do you need a chatbot for?

-How much are you ready to spend?

-In what way are you going to market your bot?

How to build a chatbot?

There are three possible variants when it comes to chatbot creation. You can:



1.Purchase a ready-made product.

This option is a satisfactory one. Today, buying a chatbot is not a big deal. You can find various marketplaces for chatbots quite easily. For instance, here is one for Telegram.

Pros:

-Easily accessible.

-You can find the solution that will fit your business.

-You save time and money you might spend on development or search.


Cons:

-The offered bots are usually primitive and may not fully satisfy your needs.

-Bought bots are usually less flexible in case you want to make modifications.


2.Take advantage of self-service platforms to tailor a chatbot to the specific needs of your company.


This option allows all non-programmers to craft the chatbot according to your vision without writing any code, although some products require basic knowledge of code. The most popular option is a Chatfuel. Other interesting variants are Motion.ai and Botsify.


Pros:

-Such platforms let you create a unique solution that will meet your expectations 100%

-There is the possibility to integrate a chatbot with different messengers.

-Usually, there are comprehensive tutorials that facilitate the overall process of chatbot creation.

-You can introduce changes whenever you want.


Cons:

-Depending on the number of bots, messages, and other bells and whistles, the price may vary from very low to super high.


3.Develop a chatbot from scratch.

This is the most complicated option as all work must be performed on your own. Therefore, you have to be savvy in programming, e.g. to know how to develop an API platform or the Natural Language Processing (NLP) principles for more complex user input processing.


Pros:

-If you pick up a professional team of developers, you can create an incredible chatbot.

-Good developers usually implement the latest IT novelties that guarantee the best results.

-Programmers can not only develop you a chatbot, but also advise the best solution for your company.


Cons:

-You can wait a long time until your chatbot sees the light of day. Additionally, it’s not uncommon for a project to go through multiple iterations that can take from two to four months.

-If you will develop the chatbot by yourself, most likely you’ll need to have your own server infrastructure (hosting).


So, if you decided to hire a team of developers be ready to the following list of services you’ll have to pay for:

1) Define business logic: define your bot’s scenarios, either adapt to existing business logic, or create from scratch - 30-95 hours

2) One messenger integration such as Facebook, slack, WhatsApp - about 42-55 hours

3) Conversational intelligence


Simple Regular Expressions (SRE) or Natural Language Processing (NLP) - 60-186 hours

4) Bot analytics- 9-16 hours

The estimated cost in this scenario will be from $6000 to $12240.

Conclusion

All in all, if you understand that the only chatbot your business may need is a simple one, then you can safely look at ready-made solutions and self-serving variants. However, if your plans are huge and require complex functionality, then full-cycle development team of professionals is your best option.


K&C has recently developed effective solutions in the fields of e-health and FinTech. If a chatbot is what your business lacks, do not hesitate to reach out to us!

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