Hey, how can I help you today?
I’m looking for a decent chatbot solution..
Great! We have plenty of solutions. Can you tell me a bit about your needs?
Good price, no coding required, easy-to-use
Thanks for the info! Based on what you’ve told me, I’d recommend Activechat, though we have a number of excellent options listed below
Ok, great! I’ll check them out, thanks!
You’re welcome! Have a great day 🙂 Let me know if I can help with anything else
Chatbots are used by all kinds of businesses. You can find them in apps, online messaging platforms and on websites, and though it’s usually pretty obvious you’re speaking to a chatbot, that doesn’t mean they’re not helpful.
If a chatbot is set up properly, it can help automate the more repetitive aspects of your customer service and free up valuable time so you and your agents can get on with more involved, complex tasks.
In fact, chatbots are revolutionizing the customer service experience, with everyone from PizzaHut to Spotify to Whole Foods making the most of what chatbots have to offer by incorporating them into their sales funnels and inbound marketing strategy.
IBM tells us: “Chatbots can help businesses save on customer service costs by speeding up response times, freeing up agents for more challenging work, and answering up to 80% of routine questions […] 265 billion customer support requests are made every year, and it costs businesses a whopping $1.3 trillion to service them.”
AI chatbots are particularly interesting as they can become smarter over time due to artificial intelligence and machine learning. Most of today’s chatbot software has some sort of AI built into the platform.
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What Are AI Chatbots And Why Should I Use One?
A chatbot is a piece of software that simulates human conversation through voice commands or text chats or both.
The neat thing about AI chatbots is that they can understand language outside of a set of pre-programmed commands and continue learning based on the inputs they receive.
If a chatbot is programmed according to a set of rules (if/then logic) and it is asked something it wasn’t programmed to answer, it will be without a response.
An AI chatbot is trained to operate more or less autonomously, using a process known as Natural Language Processing (NLP), combined with artificial intelligence and the data it collects through human interaction.
The benefits of using an AI chatbot are:
- Save time and money
- Improve engagement on your site
- Offer customer support 24/7
- Qualify your leads before they speak to a sales agent
So, are you ready to meet the best AI chatbots on the market? Let’s dive in!
Best AI Chatbot Software
1. ActiveChat – Creative freedom
2. Respond.io – Unlimited users and tons of channels
3. ChatBot – Tons of different conversion scenarios
4. Bold360 – For big ventures
5. Tidio – Affordable and easy-to-use
6. HubSpot ChatFlows – Free and effective solution
7. HelloTars – Pricey option
8. Drift – On the expensive side
ActiveChat (at the time of writing) has 14,850 active users, 26,844 bots built and 10,081,000+ conversations served. It distinguishes itself from other chatbots by promising to give users more creative freedom to build conversational chatbots that ‘bring value’ (as opposed to those that don’t).
What I liked about ActiveChat:
- Visual chatbot builder
- You can build e-commerce chatbots with native Shopify and WooCommerce integrations
- The visual editor makes it easy to make any necessary changes to the content
- Excellent templates
- Send emails right from your chatbot through your own SMTP server
- Great price for an advanced product
What could be improved:
- It’s not at all obvious how to edit the chatbot conversation flow. I had to watch a number of YouTube tutorials to find out where the visual editor was hidden. Not the best user-experience
- Channels included are Facebook, Telegram and Twilio (SMS) – you might this limiting
- Beginners may find the tool a little overwhelming at first
Free Forever plan: 100 chatbot conversations a month
$9 for 500 subscribers, integrations, removes ActiveChat branding
$19 for 1,000 subscribers
$39 for 5,000 subscribers
$69 for 10,000 subscribers
And so on…
ActiveChat is the perfect tool for businesses that are serious about automatizing through chatbots. Some might find the learning curve a little steep, but once you get the hang of it, it will be worth it. Its pricing model means that you only pay for what you need, which is a big plus for smaller companies.
Respond.io is a self-learning AI chat platform from Hong Kong. It acts as a CRM for all your chats, regardless of the channel. In other words, you can manage any chats that come in from Messenger, Twitter, Skype, live chat, etc., under one roof and get a holistic view of what’s going on.
It uses AI technology to learn from your messages and offer smart replies to the most commonly asked questions, thus freeing agents up to deal with more complex queries.
15+ supported languages including Spanish, French, and Japanese.
What I liked about Respond.io:
- You can connect a multitude of channels, including Skype, Whatsapp, Messenger, Slack, etc.
- No setup required
- Free plan for emerging businesses – this only allows for 100 contacts but you can delete old contacts at any time to free up some space!
- Easy-to-navigate backend
- You can schedule and send out broadcasts to single or multiple channels easily
- Setting up automations, for example, to send a survey when a chat is marked as done, is possible
- The cheapest paid plan allows for unlimited team members, which is pretty generous
- Very reasonable prices
What could be improved:
- Probably not a deal-breaker, but it doesn’t offer phone support
- Support is only available in English
- Some AI chatbot providers offer training – Respond.io does not. However, it does have well laid out knowledge-base where you can find helpful guides
- Lacking a visual builder
- Starter: Free (100 contacts)
- Pro: $29/month
- Business: $79/month
- Enterprise: Request a quote
Startups, SMEs and freelancers looking for an easy-to-use tool with a simple set-up. I find $29/month for unlimited team members to be very reasonable.
ChatBot, part of LiveChat, offers an easy-to-use AI chatbot solution for businesses. LiveChat is our top-rated live chat tool due to its excellent user experience and feature-rich offering – it’s clear that ChatBot was made with this same philosophy in mind.
What I liked about ChatBot:
- A number of integrations are available, including Messenger, Slack and WordPress. You can also add a widget to websites that aren’t on WordPress. (Other channels, like Whatsapp, Skype and Twitter, are currently being voted for)
- A number of helpful tutorials are available, which are helpfully categorized by level
- Unlimited conversion scenarios (or Stories, as they call them)
What could be improved:
- There is no mobile app available
- There is no live chat support within the dashboard, which is surprising
- Though most languages are available for the chatbots, some templates are provided only in English
- It’s pretty expensive
Starter: $50/month for 100 chats and 1 chatbot
Team: $149 for 5000 chats 5 chatbots
Business: $499 for 25,000 and unlimited chatbots
Medium-sized to larger companies that are looking for an easy-to-use tool to set up many different conversion scenarios.
Bold360 wants to help you “make every experience matter”. They also claim to have the fastest time-to-value, as it’s ready to go from day one.
The AI software is powered by LogMeIn, one of the world’s top 10 SaaS companies, which, coincidentally, was bought for $4.3 billion last year!
What I liked about Bold360:
- When you’re setting up your chatbot, you’ll see a handy preview screen so you know how your chatbot will work in real-time for the end customer
- It has multi-language capabilities (available in over 40 languages!)
- Insights fueled by actual customer experiences are presented in real-time, so you can take immediate action
What could be improved:
- Bold logs the operator out if there are no chats for 30 mins – this can be annoying
- Getting a demo and pricing quotes could be made simpler
Pricing: It offers 5 different plans. You need to request a quote.
Tidio is a Polish live chat solution supported by chatbots. It is designed specifically for the WordPress community, so a great solution if your site is powered by WordPress. Though that’s not to say that it isn’t a great solution for other website builders.
What I liked about Tidio:
- You can add a pre-chat survey to get to know the visitor a little better
- Over 20 pre-translated languages are available. Those not on that list are still usable, but they’ll need to be translated by you
- The interface makes it easy to match your chat window to the branding of your website
- Mobile app available
- It has a Chrome plugin that sends desktop notifications when there is a pending offline chat
- It has a Forever Free plan
- Very quick installation
- Support agents are quick to respond and helpful
All 3 plans (even the free one) allow for 3 users, however, the Communicator plan (which costs $15/month) will let you add additional users for $10.
What could be improved:
- The channels available are live chat (on your website), email or Messenger. It would be nice to be able to use it on other channels such as Skype or Whatsapp
- The number of direct integrations they offer is quite limited, though you can always go through Zapier
- The pre-chat survey works well, so why I wonder why it doesn’t also offer a post-chat survey
- The visual automation workflow editor is a bit limiting, for example, it’s not possible to switch off an automation. You can only delete it
It’s very affordable and easy-to-use so a good option for small-to-medium-sized businesses. However, if you’re looking for something more advanced and need additional channels such as Skype, Twitter or Slack, then you might find that Tidio comes up short.
6. HubSpot Chatbot
After checking out some of the more complex AI chatbots listed in this article you might decide that what you need is actually something much simpler.
HubSpot is one of the easiest tools to get your head around, in my experience. Best known for its powerful CRM, it actually offers everything from a form builder to email marketing to chatbots, all for free!
HubSpot’s chatbots work in tandem with the live chat software, which is where the qualified leads are passed on to live chat agents. The two come under the umbrella term ChatFlows and can be found in the Conversions section in your dashboard.
What I liked about HubSpot:
- Can be used on a variety of channels, including Messenger, Telegram, Slack and your website, of course
- You can create a chatflow which is only seen by contacts tracked in HubSpot CRM – this could be helpful if you want to target hot leads with a promotion or let them know about an event
- It’s very easy to get your chatbots set up
HubSpot visual builder
What could be improved:
- HubSpot branding is present in the free plan (fair enough)
- You cannot choose to hide/show the chat widget in specific countries
- Built for basic interactions, not as advanced as the AI chatbots on this list
The free plan includes unlimited users and the ability to store up to 1 million contacts. Once you surpass this limit you can move up to one of the paid plans.
As chatbots go, HubSpot’s is more basic than the others on this list. However, it can be a good option if you’re also in need of a CRM and other marketing tools for free.
If, on the other hand, you’re looking for an advanced AI chatbot, then you’ll be better off opting for ActiveChat or ChatBot.
HelloTars is a chatbot creator with plenty of pre-built templates for a variety of industries. Of course, you can always build your own from scratch if you can’t find what you’re looking for.
As each chatbot conversation lives on its own URL, instead of using a typical landing page, you can use the chatbot to collect leads. Tars calls these ‘conversational landing pages’, and claims to increase conversion rates two-fold.
What I liked about HelloTars:
- Offers tons of templates. The designs aren’t particularly thrilling but they look like they’d do the job
- Easy-to-use drag and drop chatbot builder. You can see what you build/edit in a visual editor (see screenshot below)
- A free trial is available
- Setup is very simple
What could be improved:
- HelloTars is really pricey compared to other chatbots
- Integrations such as Google Calendar, Analytics and Zapier are reserved for the expensive Business plan
- The “entry” plan doesn’t allow you to use your own domain
Professional: $99/month (5 chatbots, 100 chats/month)
Business: $499/month (10 chatbots, 5000 chats/month)
Custom: Get in touch for a quote (20+ chatbots, 50,000+ chats/month)
Considering the price, I’d find it difficult to recommend HelloTars over other solutions on this list.
Our final contender is Drift, who, as well as chatbots, offers live chat and video messaging. It has a limited free plan but be advised that the cheapest paid plan starts at $500/month! An interesting feature they offer is the automated appointment booking through the chatbot. It also integrates with all major helpdesk solutions and pulls out answers from there so your visitors can get direct answers.
Unfortunately, we weren’t able to test Drift’s AI chatbot ourselves as, for all its enterprise clients, an NLP engineer is assigned to train your bot specifically for your website. Compared to other chatbots, Drift seems like a much more complete solution but it comes at a cost.
Conclusion: What’s the Best AI Chatbot?
So which of the tools help accelerate communication without compromising the accuracy of your responses? And which offer the best value for money?
As you’ve probably gathered, ActiveChat is a clear favorite due to its reasonable prices, good design and range of chatbot templates.
It’s an interesting one as, though the learning curve is slightly steeper, the software does offer the user much more freedom when it comes to building complex AI chatbots.
ChatBot has a fairly decent offering, I just wish it wasn’t quite so expensive.
Have you tried any of the chatbots listed in this article? Let us know how you get on in the comments below!
18 Sep 2020 – Drift added
23 Apr 2020 – Rocketbots have rebranded and are now called Respond.io