Corporations across the corporate spectrum(big or small)are now looking to incorporate Chatbot in their customer service infrastructure for both support and marketing needs (Conversational marketing). it is evident that the quality of user experience is directly proportional to customer service that you provide and catboats are the fastest emerging customer service tool today. Statistically speaking it is estimated that by 2025 more than 80% of the corporations would be using chatbots to engage with their customers.
But catboats are not sold like some ready to use product out there, they are to be created each having a journey of their own, each highly customized (trained) and have unique personality subjective to the need of the enterprise. Now let us get to the point
How to choose a chatbot developer that can meet all your chatbot requirements?
To make your search easy I have compiled an informative list which provides you with elaborate information about some of the leading Chatbot developers and also the attributes that you should be looking for while making a crucial decision.
A chatbot is a software designed in such a way that it can imitate or simulate human conversation in natural language through voice or non-voice channel. Two types of chatbots that can be developed are.
1. Rule-based chatbot they are simple chatbot that response to specific pre-determined commands and do not require advance AI and ML technologies to function. They work on IFTTT( If this then that) kind of automation also known as conditional computer programming.
2. Artificial intelligent chatbot — are the ones that respond to the natural language and are capable of engaging in unplanned conversation. These are the need of this hour.
In this article, I shall be focusing on the Artificially intelligent conversational chatbot.
There are three kind of chatbot developers out there, categorized with respect to the services that they offer.
- Chatbot platform- DIY platform offering GUI (graphic user interface) to create your chatbot. These platforms have their own NLP library, source code and readymade pluggable middleware (customizations) E.g. Makerobos’s frontman.
- NLP engine- open-source NLP database with coding and word vectors library. These are coding platforms and to use them, expertise in coding is required e.g. Rasa NLU, Google dialogflow, etc.
- End to end service provider- They are DFY (done for you) services that develop, train and test your chatbot from scratch in various ways. Some use their own source code and NLP capabilities, some use open-source NLP engines like RASA Core.
A channel in chatbot terminology is the platform through which user(customer) interacts with the chatbot or vice-a-versa. A channel is one of the crucial aspect of marketing strategy(including customer support) for a corporation. Efficient communication with the customer is the key goal for which we are looking for a chatbot in the first place. Each developer posses a different level of capabilities in developing chatbots compatible with various channels. the channels are-
- Amazon Alexa- Alexa is one of the crucial channels that should ideally be commissioned with your chatbot mechanism especially voice-based chatbots.
- Facebook Messenger- Facebook Messenger chatbots are one of the most cost-effective and efficient ways to connect with customers. With over 2.7 billion monthly active users Facebook is the key to engaging with the maximum user with minimum possible effort.
- Google Assistant Voice- Google assistant powered chatbot is capable of providing world-class service to customers by the virtue of functionalities that are offered by google assistant framework(literal). For example real-time information update, voice recognition, multitasking, etc.
- Google Hangouts Chat- Google hangout is a communication platform which offers medium like messaging, video chat, VOIP(voice over impact protocol) and SMS. This is a crucial channel to maximize customer engagement and get your message through clearly. you can create a chatbot that can communicate to users through hangout.
- Microsoft Teams- Microsoft Teams is a messaging platform for an organization. It enables real-time collaboration among co-workers through meetings, file and app sharing. Microsoft Teams enabled chatbot is more a functional entity that increases the efficiency of whole team saving time through performing trivial and specialized tasks e.g. setting a reminder, etc.
- Slack Chatbot- Slack is an online team communication and collaboration platform. It enables corporation and teams to function efficiently by providing various functionalities like real-time collaboration, file sharing, online workspace, etc. slack chatbot is a slack enabled entity that functions like any other human participator on the slack platform.
- Telegram Chatbot- Telegram is one of the fastest-growing instant messaging, video chat and voice over IP platform with more than 400million monthly active users. Having a telegram enabled chatbot is crucial for maximizing conversational marketing efforts.
- Whatsapp Chatbot- WhatsApp is without doubt one of the most used messaging services, with 2.7 billion active users it is a world of its own. Having a chatbot that can communicate through WhatsApp is the most important for enterprises that are aiming for having an interpersonal communication channel with their customers. As WhatsApp among all other social media Apps is perceived most personal by users.
- Web App/ Mobile App- These are the apps developed by corporations for the purpose of various types of customer engagement. They can be e-commerce portal, shopping app or informative app. having a chatbot embedded in your mobile app can provide an ultimate user experience and also enables you to guide the customer in the desired direction.
- Website- Website is also a crucial channel to communicate with your customer as in the age of digital transformation the physical entities have been replaced by websites and with the advent of AI customer relationship executives are to be replaced by chatbots.
- Custom connectors- These are the custom communication channels created by enterprises for their unique proposes.
- Kik- Kik is a real time video chat platform.
- Line- Line is a messaging app similar to whatsApp.
- Twitter- Twitter is a social media communicating platform that also provides for direct messaging services. It has recently enabled businesses to embed different functionalities into its direct messaging interface, opening up a new and efficient communicating channel for the enterprise. It has a huge consumer base of 330 monthly active users making it an important platform.
Chatbot has been in existence for a very long time, but the true potential of this idea was realised with the advent of Artificial intelligence and Machine learning. As discussed earlier focus of this article is AI Chatbots and not rule-based chatbots. Now let me enlighten you with some important technologies used to create a conversational chatbot.
1. NLP- Natural Language Processing is an amalgamation of disciplines like linguistics, computer science and Artificial Intelligence. it deals with the understanding of natural languages(languages that are evolved through time among humans e.g. English, Polish, German and Hindi) by computer. Natural language processing is the soul of any AI chatbot as it enables chatbot of the two-key function those are Intent classification and Entity extraction.
Intent classification- Its an automated process of extracting the purpose of interaction that the user is engaging with a chatbot for. In simple words what the user wants from a chatbot.
Entity extraction- It is the ability of a chatbot to recognize the named entity mentioned in an unstructured conversation by the user.
user- “ book a movie at delta multiplex for two”
Here “book a movie” is user’s intent and “delta multiples” is entity.
2. Enterprise chatbot capabilities- Enterprise chatbots are scalable chatbots, that can be integrated with multiple channels and have the ability of extensive customization. They can handle huge traffic and complex tasks. Not all companies have the ability to develop enterprise chatbots. That is why this should be kept in mind while looking for an optimal developer.
3. Machine learning — Machine learning is the process of automatic improvisation of algorithms governing the functioning of particular software. In the context of Chatbot, Machine learning becomes an integral part of the backend functioning of the bot especially in the training phase of the development process.
4. Conversational AI —If NLP is the soul of a chatbot then AI is the brains. An AI-powered chatbot is a key to optimal conversational customer service. Artificial intelligence is defined as the intelligence shown by machines in contrast to natural intelligence. AI enables chatbots to be intuitive and smart. So AI capabilities of the developing platform are crucial for developing an optimal chatbot.
5. Context management- Context management is the ability of conversational chatbot to maintain and understand the context of conversion throughout the engagement. This ability is achieved through rigorous training and experimentation. Having a contextual chatbot is crucial to have quality engagement with the user.
user- “how can I develop a Chatbot?”
bot-“it is simple, just go to makerobos.com?”
user-“what about mobile app?”
Here, the context of the conversation remained the same but the language changed. A contextual chatbot will be able to answer this question with ease.
6. Hybrid chat- Hybrid chat refers to the ability of half human-half bot customer support. To be more elaborate it is the ability of the chatbot to switch to human to human interaction when in need. A hybrid chatbot can provide an option to interact with a human to the user whenever required.
Top companies and platforms offering chatbot development services
Below Chatbot Comparison too lets you compare the most important chatbot development firm for small and large chatbot projects in 2020
Chatbot Company Descriptions :
Established in 2018, Makerobos is India based company started off its journey with a vision to build engagement centric platform enabling businesses to communicate with their customers just like concerned, logical & empathetic human does. With conventional models of customer engagement waning fast, we always feel excited about building path breaking products using technologies including conversational artificial intelligence, automation, emotional engagement and prescriptive predictions that can shape future businesses
Softweb solution inc. is a USA based software development company specializing in AI software for digital transformation and data services. serving various enterprises from decades, software services have also specialized in the development of AI conversational chatbot.
BotsCrew is a leading chatbot platform that enables both startups and big corporations to develop quality chatbots. They also provide full support through the course of the chatbot development cycle, from beginning to end and beyond. BotCrew provides chatbot platform enabling non-coders manage, train and customize the chatbot efficiently.
Chatbot.Studio is a digital transformation company dealing with business automation. Based in Lviv, Ukraine, founded in 2016, it has been providing AI services since. It provides end to end development solution for the customers looking for Chatbot development. It has developed chatbots to automate client’s customer support and worked for improving business process. The functional result of Chatbot. Studios have been quite remarkable.
CBOT is a San Francisco and Istanbul based conversational AI company. Their specialization lies with banking and e-commerce chatbot for mid and global level enterprises. CBOT is providing services like AI consulting, AI training, product development and quality checking since 2017.
OnGraph Technologies is a software development company based in Hicksville, New York, USA. Founded in 2007 it specializes in web development, blockchain and custom software development. They work for enterprises, small businesses and middle-market companies from IT, business services and financial service industries.
Unibot is a Kyiv, Ukraine based software development company specializing in chatbot development. They are providing service like AI, web development and custom software development since 2016.
KODA BOTS is a polish company based in Wroclaw, founded in 2017 they provided services in automated communication management genre. The services of this company revolve around chatbots, artificial intelligence, machine learning and voice services. They serve businesses of all sizes.
Develtio is a Poland based software house headquartered in Warsaw. It’s a small firm with an experienced employees base specializing in software production using agile IT talent management and quantitative approach. They have been designing custom software and website since 2016.
Achievion solution is a USA based mobile app and web developing firm catering to the needs of small businesses since 2013. They specialize in technologies like blockchain, Artificial intelligence (AI), big data and video streaming.
Ginibot is a California, USA based enterprise level bot building company. They incorporate three AI components of NLP, NLU and NLG to create a narrative based intelligent Bot complex. It is a subsidiary of Uniwebb software, a custom software development company.
The Bot Forge is a chatbot developing agency been into existence since 2018. Based in Aylesbury, U.K., they offer custom software development and AI services. They specialize in catering the need of small and midmarket businesses of financial, business and IT industry.
Human Pixel Pvt Ltd is a Melbourne, Australia based software developing agency serving since 2017. They specialize in custom software development, web development and CRM consulting & SI.
DevRain is a Kyiv, Ukraine based software developer founded in 2011. They cater to the needs of small developing. They specialize in custom software development and conversational technology.
BitBot Studios founded in 2016 is a London, UK based product design and development studio. Their specialization lies in conversational technologies. They develop enterprise-quality chatbots. They aim to make machine interaction more personal and natural.
They enable brands and companies to build world-class customer conversation, chat platforms, voice assistance and conversational chatbots.
ServReality is a Ukraine based imaginative production house. They develop virtual word software and also carter the needs of AI apps, Innovation and user experience. They also provide services like outstaffing and outsourcing. They are efficiency-based firm serving the client needs since 2013.
Integrio systems is a Vancouver, Canada based software development and artificial intelligence company. Founded in 2000 they offer services in custom software, AI, web development for businesses ranging of all sizes.
You can use AI and ML technology IBM Watson through IBM cloud to create an optimal AI chatbot or as IBM calls it conversational instance.
Let's talk about mainstream opensource NLP engines also known as chatbot development framework.
Dialogflow formally called API.AI is a chatbot development framework owned by Google. Dialogflow is a SaaS-based product which does not require additional infrastructure. Its scalability is huge as it runs on Google's existing infrastructure. It is an NLP engine that uses machine learning.
The Microsoft Bot Framework is an engine owned by Tech giant Microsoft. It, along with Microsoft's Azure bot services, enables users to build, test, deploy and manage intelligent bots. The framework consists of a modular and extensible SDK to build the bots. It has various tools, templates and related AI services to enable efficient bot building.
Rasa NLU is an open-source library published under Apache 2.0 license. The library is a coding library of natural language processing enabling intent classification and entity extraction of natural language through word embeddings for AI assistance and chatbots. Rasa is completely on-premise hosted solution.
Now coming toward million-dollar question. Which one to choose?
The answer is very clear, the answer is your pure need!
Choosing a developer or platform should be in sync with your requirements and capabilities. For example, if you need a simple chatbot and that too which do not require much integration and customization then opensource NLP engines are for you but that too requires your coding capabilities as they would not give you a ready-made chatbot.
And if you need a readymade chatbot and you do not care for customization and control over creative aspect then end to end solution is for you.
But if you are very clear about your requirements and do want to get involved with the creation process of the chatbot, plus you need extensive integration and enterprise capabilities then chatbot platform like Makerobos is for you.
So do not wait further and book an appointment with our chatbot expert and embark upon a journey of getting your chatbot created.
14 Commonly Asked Questions related to selecting a Chatbot Developer
Question .> What is your coding potential for chatbot development?
Coding potential refers to the collective potential of your firm/company. It will help you decide whether you can create a chatbot from scratch through open-source platforms or need a non-coding platform like Makerobos to build the chatbot fit for your needs.
Question .> Does your digital infrastructure have the capacity to host a chatbot?
You should assess your current infrastructure capacity before incorporating additional software into the system. There are two types of service offered by chatbot developers.
- On-premise- here you are the one hosting the chatbot entirely on your present infrastructure.
- Cloud hosting- here, the developer host the chatbot on their cloud environment.
Question .> Which type of audience you want your chatbot to interact with?
A chatbot is a conversational AI software primarily developed and deployed to interact with your audience (potential customers/customers). Your audience type is critical while creating the conversational flow of your chatbot. The kind of audience either depend on the product type or industry that your business caters. Some crucial aspects should be implemented by chatbot developers while developing the conversational flow, i.e., what is the terminology prevalent in a particular industry? What are the critical requirements of your audience? How well versed is your audience?.
Question .> What will be your creative input in the chatbot development process?
Coding ability or no coding ability, your involvement with the development process is crucial. Creative input that is provided by the firm to chatbot developer is always critical when it comes to the evolution of a chatbot.
In this regard, chatbot platforms have a slight edge over the end-to-end service provider. In the case of a chatbot platform, you can rely on the knowledge of the bot expert for optimal engagement and information is not just limited to the client’s brief and feedback only. While developing on your own or via custom developer your involvement will always be maximum. Further, developing a chatbot through an open-source NLP engine has the added risk, and drawbacks of open-source engines explained here, taking Rasa NLU as an example.
Question .> what are the past projects of your chatbot developer?
Chatbot developer’s past project will help you to contemplate your developer’s ability and creative capacity. This assessment allows you to evaluate their creative potential as well as their limitations. You might as well take their chatbots on a spin to gain first-hand experience.
Question .> How broad is the service spectrum of your chatbot developer?
Not all chatbot developers and platforms specialize in making chatbots catering to the needs of a particular industry. For example, finance chatbots, legal chatbots, HR chatbots, etc. you should always choose according to your needs and the specialty that the developer can provide.
Question .> What is the ownership arrangement of the chatbot?
You have to have a clear picture of your status while getting into a contractual arrangement. There are two types of ownership that developers provide.
Proprietary ownership- in this type of arrangement, you are given access to the chatbot as an end-user through an End-user license agreement(EULA). The chatbot developer wholly owns The source code. EULA usually comes with an indemnification.
Open-source- here you get complete access to the source code, and you can make changes and modify the code according to your unique needs, subjective to the open source website’s user agreement that hosts the source code (e.g., Github). Mostly open-source chatbots do not have any warranty or liability agreement.
Question .> What are the hidden or additional costs attached to the development/maintenance of the chatbot?
The core motive for any business is to have profits, and profits require wise financial planning. Chatbot development requires investment, which is the charge paid to the developers.
Still, some costs are incurred beyond the subscription/developing fee, so to avoid the fallout of planning, this discussion should be done beforehand. It would be best if you are very thorough about all the additional costs and the services provided in the contractual agreement to avoid any miscommunication in the future.
Question .> Can the chatbot be fully integrated with your current software/hardware infrastructure?
A chatbot is a software that requires full integration with your existing software/hardware infrastructure. Chatbot developers should always keep your current capacity and infrastructure in mind while developing the chatbot.
Question .> What is the scalability potential of the chatbot and chatbot developer?
Scalability is even more crucial than integration; chatbot’ scalability is eminent in the modern business environment. There is no way of actually knowing the amount of traffic a chatbot would be receiving at a point in time. The developer should create and run a chatbot that can adjust to the changing environment constantly.
Question .> What are the data protection arrangements if the chatbot developer is the one hosting the chatbot?
When you host the chatbot on-premise, the responsibility and ownership of the sensitive data that the chatbot possesses are with you. But suppose the developer is the one hosting the chatbot. In that case, you have to make sure that there is adequate legal and digital protection around the sensitive data(financial, product development, or user data) handled by the chatbot.
The user data location is an essential subject for your customers as their privacy is at stake. So make sure that you have control over the data regardless of the site.
Question .> Which third-party service your chatbot developer would be using to develop your chatbot?
There are number of service providers out there who provide open source NLP and word vectors library to create a chatbot. You should be aware of all the third-party services that your chatbot developer is using. It would be best if you gave special attention to the source code in place as there are many developers out there that use an open-source platform, which is free of cost and extract a massive fee from you.
Question .> What functionalities would your chatbot be capable of performing?
There are various functionalities that you should be looking for in your chatbot
- Entity extraction- to extract relevant information about the critical entities mentioned in the chat by the user.
- Intent classification- to be able to classify the intent of the user. the key reason the user is interacting with the bot in the first place
- Context management- the ability to maintain and manage the context of the conversation.
- Real-time analytics- analyzing the data as soon as it becomes available to the chatbot.
- Integration- chatbot should have the ability to integrate with various platforms.
Not all developers are capable of delivering a chatbot capable of all the above functionalities. Make sure that your developer matches all your needs.
Question .> What are chatbot developer’s insights on the marketing and deployment of your chatbot.
Asking for the developer’s insight can helpful to assess the depth of knowledge and experience they have about chatbot deployment. The development of a chatbot should not be the only thing your chatbot developer should be involved with. Assessment of the market needs should be a subject that your chatbot developer should be thorough with.
Question .> What happens if your chatbot stop working?
Various problems can cause the chatbot to stop working. Make sure that your developer provides a Service Legal Agreement(SLA) in case of the unlikely. And make sure it is contractually binding on subjects like uptime guarantee and compensation.