How to choose the best chatbot software: The Ultimate Guide

The Ultimate Guide How to choose the best chatbot software

Before you are going to build a chatbot, it is really important to consider with what software to make this chatbot. There is a lot of chatbot software out there and it seems like more chatbot software is coming out everyday. With a lot of alternatives, it is hard to make a good choice.

Choosing the right software for your chatbot is extremely important. That is because you want to deliver certain value to your customers. But in order to deliver the value to your customers, you need to have software that is capable of that. Here is an example:

An e-commerce company specialized in wine starts their own chatbot so that their customers can buy the wine directly from the chatbot. After building this chatbot, customers get satisfied and their sales go up.

But after a while, customers do not only want to buy certain wines, but also want to get personal advice. The company decides it is a good idea to integrate a livechat with their chatbot. However, that is not possible, because the chatbot software does not have that capability. As a consequence, the company needs to switch from chatbot software, ending up copying all their clients, their conversations and all the orders, which takes a lot of time and costs a lot of money.

To prevent this from happening, I made the ultimate guide for choosing the best chatbot software for your needs.

Let’s get started.

1. Interface

Is the interface focused on the user? It is clean? Is it easy to understand? How the interface looks, determines (partly) how fast you will build your chatbot. When looking at the interface, there are a few important things to consider:

  • Is there a visual drag and drop interface?
  • Is there a possibility to test your chatbot in the interface itself?
  • Is the interface easy to use?
  • Is it easy to setup a chatbot?
  • Does the interface have a low learning curve?

2. Chatbot Elements

What kind of things can you send to the person interacting with your chatbot? With chatbot elements, you need to consider the following:

  • Delays
    Let the chatbot wait for a certain amount of time before going further. This gives the user the feeling of having a real conversation.
  • Images
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Attachments
  • Gallery
  • List
  • Emoji’s
    A lot of chatbots are using emoji’s nowadays to make the conversation more entertaining, fun and real.
  • Persistent Menu
    This is a menu that is available to the user at all times. It is often located in the bottom left corner of the interface and if you click on it, it provides the user with several menu options.
  • Quick Replies
    Quick Replies are a number of buttons organized horizontally, which are smaller than a normal button.
  • Button
  • Free text input

Validation is also extremely important. Validation is checking whether the information filled in by the user is correct. For example, you can check whether an e-mail is correct. There are multiple types of validation:

  • E-mail validation
  • Phone-number validation
  • Date validation

3. Users

Users are conducting conversations with your chatbot. Therefore, it is useful to get to know your users better. Chatbot software can do that for you, for example by adding attributes for specific users. It is important to pay attention to the following aspects:

  • Attributes (also called Custom Tags)
    Is it possible to add attributes to specific users? For example, when a users clicks on a button to download an e-book, to automatically set the attribute “interested_in_ebook” to “yes”.
  • Location Sharing
    Is it possible for the user to share his location?
  • Tags
    Is it possible to add/remove tags to specific users based on the user behavior? For example, when the attribute “interested_in_ebook” is set to “yes”, automatically tagging the user with the tag “Ebook reader”.
  • User Segments
    Is it possible to divide all your users in groups based on certain tags or attributes?

4. Messages

What kind of messages can you send to your users? When sending messages to your users, you need to think of:

  • Broadcasts
    Does the software allow you to send out a message to all your users (or a part of your users) at once?
  • Campaigns (also called Sequences or Automations)
    Can you automatically send a sequence of messages to any user who opted-in to your campaign?
  • Subscribe/Unsubscribe from campaigns
    Is it possible for the user to subscribe or unsubscribe from your campaign?
  • Logic & Calculation
    Is it possible to show users a different message based on certain logic? Or to perform calculations with certain attributes?
  • Multi-language support
    Is it possible to send messages in multiple languages?

5. Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Natural Language Processing (NLP)

Natural Language Processing is a part of Artificial Intelligence that is focusing on the understanding of human language. Because of NLP, a chatbot can understand an intention of the user. Take the following example:

In the back-end of your chatbot, you set that the chatbot needs to respond to the message “I want to order tickets”. Because of NLP, the chatbot will also understand other messages that are similar like “I want to buy tickets” and “Can I buy tickets?”

This seems really “normal”, but understanding the intention of the user this is difficult for computers. The benefit of NLP is that the chatbot also responds to synonyms of words or variations of sentences, instead of the exact keywords you provided the chatbot with. The result is that you don’t need to give in every possible variation of the same question (e.g. “Can I order?” “Is it possible to place an order?”, “Can I buy?”), which saves a lot of time.

When considering AI and NLP, you need to think about:

  • Keywords
    Can you give in certain keywords the chatbot automatically replies to? For example, when someone types in “Hello”, the chatbot automatically responds with “Hello! What can I do for you today?”
  • Intents
    Can the chatbot understand the intent of the user? So when you only set the keyword “Hello”, does the chatbot also understand that “Hi”, “Hey” and “Howdy” mean the same thing?

6. Platforms

On which platforms can you deploy your chatbot? Only on Facebook Messenger or also on your website? And do these platforms need to be integrated?

It is important to consider the following platforms:

  • Website
  • Facebook Messenger
  • Slack
  • Telegram
  • Email
  • Whatsapp
  • Skype

Note: Many chatbot software are using a Facebook Messenger widget so that users can also communicate with the chatbot on a website. The disadvantage of this, is that there are also many people who don’t like Facebook and therefore will never interact with the chatbot on your website.

7. Integrations

Can you send or use data from other tools? Tools to consider are:

  • Livechat Integration
    This is the most important integration for your chatbot. When your chatbot cannot give an answer to the question (which will often happen) the best to say is “Sorry, I do not understand your question. Do you want me to refer you to a real human?”
    When you are not doing this, you will leave the customer unsatisfied, because you cannot provide an answer to his question.
  • Zapier
    Zapier allows you to connect different tools with each other. A lot of tools are connected to Zapier, so if your chatbot can connect with Zapier, you can connect almost with every tool.
  • Integromat
    Integromat is really the same idea as Zapier, but just a different software.
  • DialogFlow
    DialogFlow is the AI heart of Google. For chatbots who cannot understand intents (see the AI&NLP section), this could be an important integration. With connecting your chatbot to DialogFlow, you can let Google do the hard work for you (understanding intents). Moreover, the AI of Google is often better than from the chatbot software itself, because Google has more experience and data.
  • Google Sheets
    An integration with Google Sheets could also be made through Zapier or Integromat, but most chatbot software also provide a stand-alone Google Sheet integration.
  • Webhooks
    With webhooks, you can integrate any service and even push messages to your chatbot. In this way, you could make the chatbot more advanced.

8. Marketing

Is it possible to promote your chatbot on various ways? This is often used for chatbot software focused on Facebook Messenger. Things to think about:

  • Widgets
    You can provide a widget on your website which refers the user to the chatbot?
  • Landing Pages
    Can you create custom landing pages for your chatbot? For example, when someone is going to a certain page, he will automatically get a certain message of the chatbot?
  • Facebook Ads
    Is it possible to connect your chatbot to a Facebook Ad?
  • Facebook Comments Auto-reply
    Is it possible to automatically send anyone a message who commented on your Facebook posts?
  • Button Creator
    Is it possible to create a button which will automatically lead to your chatbot?
  • Specific URL for your chatbot
    Is it possible to make a specific URL which will lead to your chatbot? Or to a certain message of your chatbot?

9. Pricing

Of course, pricing is important. In order to know your return-on-investment (ROI) of your chatbot, you need to know how much it costs. Things to consider:

  • Is there a free trial?
  • Is there a free package?
    With most chatbot software there is a free package, but this often comes with the branding of the software itself, which is not favorable.
  • What is the price per month?
  • Is it monthly pricing available?
  • Is there a money back guarantee?
    Most vendors use a “30 days money back guarantee” if you are not satisfied. This is particularly useful if you want to try it certain software.

10. Analytics & Tracking

This is the most important section of the guide. I spoke to several chatbot experts and Analytics is the most important capability of chatbot software.

How are you going to improve your chatbot if you don’t know what is happening?
You don’t. You need to have the data to improve on your chatbot, and without analytics, that is not possible.

To my opinion, if your chatbot software does not have an Analytics capability, I would never choose that chatbot software.

Aspects to think about:

  • Dashboard
    Is there a dashboard where you can see an overview of all your chatbot stats?
  • User input
    Is there an overview where you can see all the user input? And more specifically, the input where the chatbot could not give an answer to?
  • User Retention
    Do users come back to use the chatbot?
  • Sent messages
    How many messages have your chatbot sent?
  • Open rate
    What percentage of messages gets opened by users?
  • Click rate
    What percentages of messages get clicked on?
  • Conversion rate
    How many users get to the final goal of your chatbot?
  • Fall Back Rate
    How many times need the chatbot to fall back (when he cannot give an answer)? You want that this metric is as low as possible. A high fall back rate means that your chatbot needs a lot of improvement.
  • Volunteer users
    How many users come to your chatbot without getting notified?
  • Custom Dashboards/Reports
    Is it possible to make custom dashboard/reports yourself?

11. E-Commerce

If you are not selling products or services over the Internet, you can skip this part. But if you do, this is really important.

It is really valuable for customers they can directly buy that product through your chatbot. However, this is not always possible.

Things to consider:

  • Shopify
    Does the chatbot software integrate with Shopify (the number one e-commerce platform)?
  • WooCommerce
    Does the chatbot software integrate with WooCommerce?
  • Buy directly within in the chatbot
    Is it possible to buy directly within the chatbot? Or do you get referred to the website?
  • Cart Abandonment
    When you get referred to the cart on a website and you leave, can the chatbot automatically send a message with “You forgot something… Do you want to finish your order?”

12. Support

How is the chatbot software company helping you to make the best chatbots possible? Things like customer support, templates and tutorials can make your life a lot easier. Moreover, it could save you a lot of time.

Things to consider:

  • Templates
    Are there pre-built chatbot templates that you can duplicate with one click?
  • Tutorials
    Does the company provide (video) tutorials on how to make a chatbot with their software?
  • Documentation
    Is there proper documentation which gives you extra information about the platform?
  • Customer support
    Can you contact the company when you get stuck?

Which chatbot software is best for you?

​Unfortunately, I cannot determine for you which is the best chatbot software. You will probably not find the perfect chatbot software that will fulfill all your needs, so you have to consider all the advantages and the disadvantages of the software.

Besides, it is smart to make a list of the most important requirements that you have. It could be possible that you find it really important that the chatbot does integrate with your e-commerce platform, but find it less important if there is documentation.

For each person the requirements are different, and therefore there is not one ultimate solution.

A last note…

While using this guide, I want you to think of two things:

  1. What do you want now in your chatbot?
    For example, now you want to put your chatbot on Facebook Messenger.
  2. What do you want in the future in your chatbot?
    It could be possible that next to Facebook Messenger, you also want your chatbot on Slack. It would be smart to choose chatbot software that already has that capability, because otherwise you can get into trouble in the future.
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