What used to be a permanent lab entity just a few years back has found its way out of the machine rooms and entered different industries and business processes across the globe!
We are talking about conversational AI or what we call in the common language — a chatbot!
Recent research by the MIT Sloan Management Review and BCG suggests that more than 70% of the executives feel that AI is going to play a pivotal role in their business organizations.
The AI elements of chatbots are readily available for customization and as-is use in various business scenarios. However, the mammoth work of managing the data interplay, process complexities, and technology interfacing happen in-house!
The chatbot builders must have smart functionalities and a zero or slight learning curve for effortless and efficient usage.
Here, we share the best chatbot software for businesses in 2021, with more functionalities and less work.
A chatbot is a computer program that interacts with a user in natural language, understands their intent, and presents responses based on an organization’s data and business rules.
It is a natural language processor that comes with an in-built library of words, emotions, subjective and contextual processing, etc. It can interact with your customers intelligently and present responses to their queries like your agents.
While the world of conversational AI offers an endless stream of benefits and business valuables, businesses with limited financial standing or with industry-best customer support and service systems already in place find it hard to place chatbot software in their business model.
Hence, we are going to focus on the core benefits of using smart chatbots that will make you identify them as a business must-have.
- Innovation and Virtual Support
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a wake-up call for businesses running on traditional and redundant business models that have immense reliability on the “manual” and “physical” elements.
Chatbots emerge as an excellent tool for remote collaboration, 24X7 support 365 days a year, and an impressive agent for delivering borderline customer service. They never miss an incoming query, never fail to present multiple options as answers, and escalate in an impeccable manner.
1. How Conversational AI can Automate Customer Service
2. Automated vs Live Chats: What will the Future of Customer Service Look Like?
3. Chatbots As Medical Assistants In COVID-19 Pandemic
4. Chatbot Vs. Intelligent Virtual Assistant — What’s the difference & Why Care?
2. Right answers at the right time
To err is human, but errors spark disinterest and frustration in customers already grappling with product malfunctions. A human agent can make several mistakes during his interaction with a customer, such as directing the call to an unavailable agent or offering an irrelevant response.
On the other hand, an automated bot software never makes any mistakes. This is because all their thinking and processing stems from an in-built library, and they just have to present the most relevant response.
3. Speed, flexibility, and convenience
Chatbot technology is second to nothing and no one when it comes to speed, flexibility, and convenience in the customer service sector. Interactive chatbots never sleep, never go on holidays, present quick replies, exhaustively gather all the preliminary information, and deliver excellent customer experiences.
The bots can also educate the customers about self-service resources and reduce the average expenses on a single customer interaction by 70%.
4. Less confusion and more work done
Chatbots can completely take over the frequently asked queries, basic queries and troubleshoot the basic technical problems as well. Hence, they free your agents for catering to important tasks and add synergistic value to your support system.
This brings us to the next question — what can you do with the chatbots?
You can use chat bot technology to add more value to your business in a consistent and sustained manner. They are the keys to unlock the digital journeys of your organization and deliver fantastic next-gen intelligent and delightful customer service.
Given below are the four key business areas you can use chatbots for.
- Improve customer acquisition
Cognitive and digital business capabilities are the need of the hour and showcasing them in your business model has a direct impact on your client acquisition.
As you can scale up and down rapidly, you are always able to acquire and serve new customers all the while ensuring that the existing ones are happy. The ready-to-use smart chat interface allows you to automate your support operations and achieve a higher degree of efficiency.
Your ability to deliver 24X7 support throughout the year without falling prey to the different time zones, allows you to achieve higher throughput and accuracy levels in customer support. Chatbots effectively solve their issues and offer high-quality support as and when required.
- Increase revenue generated per user
Your chatbots can take on the preliminary information collection and can offer personalized product and service recommendations. They can also deliver support based on gathering, processing, and acting upon the customer data.
Hence, they generate better ROI. They also allow your support agents to focus on more critical and pressing issues at work.
Economies dwindling in the wake of uncertainties like the COVID-19 pandemic spurred stricter cost-cuttings. Customer service chatbots allow you to save 15% to 90% on your support expenses depending on the automation functionalities.
Other perks they offer include a short payback period, high potential ROI, mitigation of security risks, easy scaling, and low integration costs.
Take a look at the following screenshot that shows the evolution of chatbots and their different types:
Based on the sectors they are employed in, core functionalities they have and libraries they use as their brains, there are different types of chatbots, that we discuss below.
When classified broadly, the chatbots are of the following three types:
- FAQ Chatbot — Cater to FAQ type queries and present the most relevant answers
- Virtual Agent — Smartest chatbots that can completely replace an employee
- Virtual Assistant — Medium-level intelligence allows them to perform basic actions such as fetching personal information etc.
In relevance to customer support and wider applications, there are 6 types of chatting bots:
- Button or menu-based chatbots
These are the most basic customer service chatbots that are currently implemented on the majority of business websites. They have decision tree hierarchies that enable them to show different options to the customers. So, if your customers submit a query, they are shown a number of options to choose from and proceed with resolution.
They are mostly used for answering FAQs.
- Linguistics or rule-based chatbots
The rule-based chatbots are more advanced bots that are used to create conversational flows using if/then logic. These bots work on logic rules for processing customer queries in natural language. The definitions for language conditions are fed manually to the bot.
- Keyboard recognition-based bots
These bots can listen to your users and respond appropriately just like a human agent. They employ AI and NLP to serve smart responses and have intelligent conversations with your customers. However, they fail to perform when a lot of similar questions are asked.
The machine learning-based chatbots are highly advanced and can deliver contextual responses. They are also called context-aware bots. These bots can self-improve based on their interactions with the customers.
The hybrid chatbots offer the mixed functionalities of AI-based bots and rule-based bots. They are also somewhat more affordable as compared to the top-notch software and are perfect for SMEs.
The voice bots can take and deliver voice commands. They can also offer support in the vernacular or native language. Voice bots are extremely flexible, convenient, and frictionless bots.
By now you must have understood that identifying and choosing the rightmost and the best chatbot software for your business is a daunting task. The stakes and risk increase further when you don’t have the technical expertise to understand your chatbot requirements and customize an off-the-shelf software.
Hence, we are sharing the 3 key considerations for every buyer irrespective of the scale and type of business.
1.The scale of your business
Your business scale says a lot about your customer base, and having an average chatbot tool that delivers only the basic functionalities, is not the right fit for your business. NLP, AI, and ML are the operative words for large businesses when it comes to choosing a chatbot. While the enterprise-level business owners have more options because of their financial standing, the SMEs and start-ups have to be careful. They can opt for rule-based or contextual bots depending on their unique business needs and budget. The start-ups that are still in the nascent stages can surely make do without one.
2. Security concerns
A majority of chatbots run on the cloud that puts their security under the scanner. This becomes even more important when it comes to the businesses operating in the regulated domains such as finance, markets, and healthcare or government sector.
Identify your security concerns and compare them to the chatbots’ security compliances to ensure the safety of your organization.
3. Choosing the right capabilities
While choosing a top-notch chatbot platform might be on your mind, you must make the investment keeping your current business needs in mind. You can add more functionalities and scale your chatbots as your business grows, without much ado.
So, opt for the functionalities that are of key concern and address the major pain points in your support system.
For making your purchase decision easier, we are sharing the list of the best chatbot software for 2021 that you can choose without any second thoughts.
ProProfs ChatBot allows you to build and configure chatbots that grow your business, and close more leads efficiently. You can automate your customer support and be online 24X7. The chatbot is easy to configure and allows for easy customization to suit your unique business needs. This is one of the best AI chatbots that interacts in a human-like manner and boosts conversions.
It can ask multiple-choice questions and open-ended questions and can be configured for different types of chatbot requirements, such as customer service bot, lead generation bot, and sales bot, etc.
- Ready-to-use template
- Reduces ticket volume by 35%
- Query escalation and routing
- Drag and drop editor
- Easy-to-use chatbot builder
Pricing: Plans start from $10/operator/month.
Manychat automates two-way interactions on various platforms, such as SMS, Messenger, Facebook, and Instagram, etc., and helps you steer your business towards growth. Built for sales and marketing, it is one of the best chatbots for businesses that operate in these domains. You can start with one of the many built-in templates that are beautiful, engaging, and can be configured in a few minutes.
It comes with an easy-to-use drag-and-drop editor that requires zero learning curve and offers easy integration with other existing tools in your software suite.
- Unlimited custom chatbot flows
- Target audience segmentation
- Automatic 2 message grip sequence
- Customer tagging
- Friendly user interface
Pricing: Paid plans start from $10/month and there is a free plan as well.
Dialogflow is one of the best chatbot software, that is NLP-based and delivers smart and intuitive virtual agent functionalities. It is available in two editions — Dialogflow ES and Dialogflow CX.
It is powered by the leading AI from Google and is a comprehensive development platform for voice bots and chatbots. It can interact naturally and accurately with the customers. Further, it can be managed and scaled easily, as your business grows.
It is extremely easy to build and deploy chatbots universally. Just in case you are looking for a chatbot platform for large business enterprises, this is the best option.
- Visual flow builder
- Advanced AI
- Omnichannel implementation
- State-based data models
- Speech recognition
Pricing: Users have to pay monthly charges depending on the number of requests and editions
Chatfuel is one of the best chatbot platforms for messenger that increases your sales, automates your customer support, and personalized marketing without any coding skills. It comes with an easy-to-use drag-and-drop editor and there is a free version as well that can be used for 5000 subscribers with almost every feature.
It also comes with a contact database, drip campaigns, and data import/export features that make it perfect as a chatbot for businesses of all types and all scales.
Chatfuel facilitates easier management and reuse of messages and offers many impressive data management and priority support features.
- AB Testing
- Canned responses
- File sharing
- Customer segmentation
- Content management
Pricing: Paid plans start from $15/month and there is a free plan as well.
No best chatbot software list is complete without the mention of TARS. It supports an efficient and intuitive drag-and-drop chatbot builder that allows you to create website chatbots as well as conversational landing pages. TARS comes with more than 800 in-built chatbot templates for different businesses and offers cases that can be customized and edited easily.
The bots created with TARS generate more leads and better ROI for your marketing efforts. It also comes with advanced analytics and marketing tools that allow you to draw actionable insights from customer data.
- Pre-Configured Bot
- Website Visitor Tracking
- Intent Recognition
- Contextual Guidance
Pricing: Paid plans start from $499/month and there are no free plans.
SnatchBot offers an omnichannel bot-building platform for developers and businesses and provides services for every stage in a bot lifecycle. It comes with impeccable administrative features and scalable enterprise-grade security levels. There is a comprehensive bot library with bot templates that you can customize and configure. SnatchBot employs NLP to create smart bots that interact like humans.
- Robotic Process Automation
- Speech to text conversion
- Text to speech conversion
- Automatic speech recognition
Pricing: The paid plans start from $30/month, while there is a free plan as well.
SmartLoop comes with a point-and-click conversation builder that allows you to build chatbots for various purposes, such as booking appointments, and lead qualification, etc. You can re-engage leads and drive sales via automated messages and perform a thorough analysis of the user conversation to understand what works best for them.
Based on this knowledge, you can automate the flow and create a fantastic support system with the perfect combination of AI and human agents.
- Intent Recognition
- Speech Recognition
- Pre-Configured Bot
- Live Chat
Pricing: There is a free plan for 100 subscribers, while the paid plans start from $10/month.
Drift is yet another chatbot solution that improves customer experiences and helps businesses to automate their sales process. Often touted as the leading revenue acceleration platform in the world, Drift has a reputation for laying the foundation of conversational marketing and sales.
It is an impeccable chatbot for a website, and allows you to engage your website visitors with specific messages and interactions within the first few seconds of their visit and simulates human agent actions, such as meeting scheduling, sharing compelling content, and qualifying customer interests.
- Canned Responses
- Customer segmentation
- Contextual targeting
- Automated scheduling
- Analytics and ROI tracking
Pricing: Pricing is available on call and is done on a per-feature basis. There is a free version as well as a free plan also.
Tidio is a smart and comprehensive communicator for businesses that keeps all the communications from chatbots, messengers, emails, and live chat in one place. Tidio offers a free chatbot app for websites and multiple other features that reduce time spent in customer interaction. It is a leading live chatbot for boosting customer engagement, all the while improving your sales figures.
What makes Tidio even better is the fact that it also comes with Android and iOS features for an on-the-go customer support experience.
- Feedback Management
- Complaint Monitoring
- Knowledge Base Management
- Proactive Chat and CRM
- Alerts / Escalation
Pricing: The paid plans start from $18/month, and there is a free plan as well.
Aivo offers bots for businesses of all scales and all types and is one of the best chatbot software in the world. The AI-powered bots allow your business to offer real-time support via text as well as speech. You can set different rules for each channel and adapt them to present appropriate responses in an automated manner.
It runs on a powerful semantic engine that makes the interactions humanistic and more engaging.
- Interactive Content
- Speech Recognition
- Predictive Analytics
- Process/Workflow Automation
Pricing: The pricing starts from $99/month, and there is a 30-day free trial for the basic plan.
Pandorabots is a name that wields reputation and respect in the domain by being one of the oldest and largest chatbot providers. Mitsuku chatbot is a milestone offering from the brand that has worked with many reputed names all over the world. Apart from full-fledged libraries, the tool comes with small talk libraries that cater to the chitchat interactions with a customer.
It is a context-aware, multilingual, and voice-enabled bot provider that ranks among the leading chatbot business operators and comes with coding as well as non-coding options for building and configuring bots.
- Rapid iteration
- Contextual knowledge
- Open platform standards
- Cross-channel bot
- Flexible and extensible for integrations
Pricing: There is a free plan with limited features, while the paid plans start from $19/month.
ItsAlive is one of the best chatbot platforms for Facebook. It is a smart and intuitive Facebook chatbot builder that automates the FAQs and performs efficient escalation to the human agent as and when required. It can indulge in smart interactions with your customers within Facebook Messenger and evolves with these interactions.
- Third-party integrations
- Reporting and analytics
- Bots work with keywords
- Automated responses
Pricing: There is a free plan with limited functionalities, while the paid plans start from $19/month.
Botsify is another commendable chatbot platform that offers unified chat automation for businesses. You can connect the omnichannel live chat service with multiple platforms to set and configure the autoresponder. You can also build and use a website bot to engage your website visitor, increase your conversion rate. It allows you to get more qualified leads and has a faster response rate.
- Multiple chatbots
- Dedicated chatbot manager
- Analytics and reporting
- Conversational forms
- Unlimited chatbot users
Pricing: There is a 14-day free trial after which you have to pay $40/month for the basic plan.
MobileMonkey is a must-have in every best chatbot 2021 listing because of its powerful features and omnichannel bot functionalities. It works well across all the communication platforms, such as web chat, Facebook Messenger, SMS, and Instagram, etc. It comes with chat marketing, automation tools, and customer support features for digital agencies, creative businesses, and direct-to-consumer businesses.
It allows you to contact leads, communicate with the customers in real-time, and gain visibility into your customers via engagement analytics.
- Web forms
- Push Notifications
- Unified chat inbox
- Multi-platform chatbot builder
- Agency client management
Pricing: Pricing is available on call.
LivePerson is the world’s first conversation cloud that is AI-powered and comes with innovative and smart chatbot features, apart from a comprehensive conversation builder. You can build, customize and optimize the AI bots via the bot builder interface that comes with a little learning curve. Its intent manager allows you to understand what your customers actually want and enables better personalization.
- Sentiment analysis
- Pre-configured bot
- Customer segmentation
- Contextual guidance
- Collaboration tools
Pricing: The pricing is available on call, while there is a free trial as well.
The modern business landscape is extremely competitive and spangled with customers with volatile interests and numerous other options other than your brand. Hence, if you wish to ace the support and service sector, you must create a superhuman support task force well-equipped with cutting-edge technology and industry-best software.
However, not all businesses have this kind of financial standing and chatbot requirements. That’s why we have compiled a highly inclusive list of chatbot software that you can refer to for making the best choice.
The criteria to choose the best customer service chatbot software vary across the businesses.
Hence, the best way to cultivate a perfectly balanced chatbot and humanistic support system requires a lot of thought. Start by identifying your unique business needs and perform a thorough chatbot platform comparison for picking the most relevant software.