Making A Chatbot: How To Choose A Platform Or A Development Service

Chatbot

Running a one-person business with a small list of clients might not require any kind of automation when it comes to dealing with buyers, partners, and contractors. However, when you progress as an entrepreneur, you'd have to automate customer interaction if you want to scale your business. Growing client base? Expanding audience reach? Bringing customer support to the next level? You should have considered using AI-enhanced chatbots by now.

Pre-development stage

Chatbots are one of the earliest applications of Artificial Intelligence for practical and business purposes. Coupled with Machine Learning algorithms, modern chatbots offer a high degree of personalization. They can successfully imitate human interaction without spooking or irritating your clients. Their 24/7 availability to customers, multi-channel response, and the ability to learn and improve with every iteration make them a profitable investment. Chatbots increase customer retention and satisfaction, promote your business, and reduce the costs associated with your customer service and sales departments by taking over mundane tasks and freeing employees to focus on solving more complicated issues and growing your business.

If you are entertaining the idea of developing a chatbot but feel stumped when it comes to choosing a chatbot development service, consider your needs, technical knowledge, and budget first. From "do-it-yourself" platforms that let you assemble a bot using a graphic WYSIWYG editor, to frameworks and code libraries that require programming knowledge, to hiring a dedicated development team that will provide you with a highly customizable solution — there are quite a few options on the market right now.

Choosing the right option

Oral or written communication is a relatively easy task for humans. However, Natural Language Processing can be daunting even for the most advanced algorithms. A well-developed and well-trained (if provided enough time) AI software is a marvel of communication, but you should keep your initial expectations low, especially if you are not a large corporation with a gargantuan budget and a dedicated R&D department.

Chatbot platform

Most entrepreneurs start with self-service solutions or chatbot platforms. If you need to build a simple bot quickly and don't possess technical savvy, use a web platform with a Graphical User Interface that allows you to drag and drop elements to create logical sequences visually. The resulting chatbot will have very limited capabilities but probably cover most needs of a solopreneur looking to scale without having to hire a large team.

Chatbot framework

An advanced option includes getting a chatbot framework that includes a code library, API, or SDK and using its in-built Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing features to develop your bot from scratch and then train it by parsing user queries and feeding it data. Building a customized bot this way requires hiring a programmer or doing all the coding yourself. It's possible to create an enterprise-level chatbot even with a small team if your developers have outstanding tech skills. The downside of this approach is the enormous time costs associated with building a relatively sophisticated program.

Chatbot development service

Probably the best option if you want to focus on your business and let the professionals do their job. It's the fastest of all three and often less expensive than hiring an in-house team. The costs for developing a chatbot differ depending on your needs and specification and the service provider's pricing. You should be looking at a ballpark estimate of $5,000 to $50,000 for developing an MVP version. After the bot is built you will be able to customize its functions through an admin panel. Even if you have tech skills but no previous experience with chatbots it may be wise to at least pay the experts to provide you with advice and supervision.

Key traits to look for when hiring a development service

Make sure that your chatbot developer exhibits the necessary characteristics that will make your cooperation successful. They should have experience in the field, an understanding of your business niche, high quality of services, and adequate pricing.

Chatbot developer check-list:

  1. Ability to build specialized chatbots for different tasks — to cover all your needs from lead generation to customer support, you'd need an ecosystem of bots that execute multiple tasks, handle multiple workflows and share data with each other.

  2. Multi-channel communication — bots should be able to function on your website, in a mobile app, through messengers, email, SMS, or social media platforms.

  3. Evolving chatbots — developers should know how to scale the functionality of the bot using NLP and Machine Learning. It's important for bots to recognize speech patterns, maintain meaningful conversations and understand user intent before providing them with relevant information.

  4. Domain knowledge and general experience — it's important to choose a developer that has expertise in developing chatbots for your industry or business niche. Look through their portfolio and client testimonials first. There are a lot of features that can be used when creating a bot, but a lot of them might be completely unnecessary for your particular case, and some matter more than others.

  5. Pricing — whether it's a monthly fee or pay-per-performance pricing model, make sure that your budget can allow it. Pay for the most important features first. A less expensive and less sophisticated AI software can still cover 80% of your needs. Make sure that your chatbot is constructed with a possibility of future updates and upgrades. A robust architecture allows for gradual development of additional features.

 

Conclusion

Creating a customized AI-enhanced chatbot ecosystem for your business is the right move if you are looking to scale. Improving the availability and quality of your customer interaction doesn't have to come with a heavy cost if you choose your chatbot development provider wisely.

 

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