Dialogflow is the natural language understanding platform of Google that you can use to create omnichannel chatbots.
But should you use Dialogflow to create your chatbots?
Let’s dive in!
What is Dialogflow?
Dialogflow is the natural language understanding platform of Google that allows you to understand language with your chatbot.
What Dialogflow tries to, is understand the intent of the user based on training sentences that you give.
Based on those training sentences, Dialogflow knows how to automatically respond to questions of your users.
Before we dive into the rest of this review, I wanted to let you know that it is also possible to integrate other chatbot builders with Dialogflow, so you can use Dialogflow for understanding the intent of the user and the other chatbot builder to handle the rest of the conversation.
Dialogflow has two types of editions: Dialogflow Essentials (ES) and a Dialogflow Customer Experience (CX).
Both types of editions come with different interfaces and can be used for different purposes.
Dialogflow Essentials (ES)
Dialogflow Essentials is the standard edition of Dialogflow and most people are familiar with this one.
Within Dialogflow ES, you can understand the intent of the user by providing training sentences to your agent. The agent is then trained to understand these sentences:
And create a reply for it:
Also, you can use Entities with Dialogflow. With Entities, your chatbot can understand the difference between a “veggie pizza” and a “pizza”. In this example, the entity part is “veggie” that relate to a topping of a pizza:
Moreover, you can test your chatbot in the Dialogflow interface:
Dialogflow Customer Experience (CX)
Dialogflow CX is a relatively new version of Dialogflow and is not yet used by many people.
In general, Dialogflow CX is not recommended for many use cases, unless you have a very sophisticated chatbot.
The benefit of Dialogflow CX is that you have a visual flow builder that provides a better overview of the conversation:
But at the same time, I wouldn’t recommend using Dialogflow CX if you are a beginner with chatbots. The interface is much harder to use than the simple interface of Dialogflow ES.
In general, I think the interface of Dialogflow ES is easy to use and it is easy to set up your chatbot. Dialogflow CX provides a better overview, but also has a steeper learning curve (and you probably don’t need to use it).
- Visual Flow Builder
- Test chatbot
- Interface easy to use?
- Easy to setup a chatbot?
Dialogflow provides enough elements to build a good chatbot.
They also lack some important elements, such as Delays, Video and Attachments.
Also, some chatbot elements are not built-in, but you can code these yourself using the Custom Payload feature.
- Gallery (Horizontal list)
- Vertical list
- Persistent Menu
- Quick Replies
- Free text input
- Location sharing
- Email validation
- Phone number validation
- Date validation
In Dialogflow, you cannot see a complete user overview of all the people that talked with your chatbot.
In fact, if you want to store user information, you need to create a custom integration with a Google Datastore or other kind of database.
- Custom fields
- User segments
With Dialogflow, you cannot send broadcasts and sequences. In essence, Dialogflow is user-triggered, which means that it responds when the user asks something, but the chatbot cannot initiate the conversation (or you need to code this yourself).
Also, with Dialogflow you cannot use conditions in your chatbot flows. It is possible to have different branches in your conversation by using Context, but this is kind of a workaround. If you want to use conditions based on user information, you probably need to code this yourself.
Furthermore, with Dialogflow it is possible to have a chatbot that can understand multiple languages at the same time. Unfortunately, it is not easy to translate these messages, because you need to manually add the same intents and same training phrases (but then in a different language).
- Multiple languages
- Easy to translate
AI & NLP
One of the reasons so many people use Dialogflow, is because of their AI & NLP, which is really good.
As described above, you can train your Dialogflow agent to understand the intent of the user by providing training phrases.
Also, you can use Entities so your chatbot can understand useful information that your users say.
- Dialogflow integration
With Dialogflow, you can put your chatbot on 14 channels:
- Your website
- Facebook Messenger
- WhatsApp (using Twilio)
- SMS (using Twilio)
- Workplace from Facebook
And you can even use Dialogflow to handle one-click telephony:
Next to the AI of Dialogflow, this is one of the greatest benefits. You can create a chatbot on almost any channel.
While Dialogflow provides many channels, often you need to use some code to connect your chatbot to a channel. This is is good to know when considering Dialogflow as your chatbot builder.
Unfortunately, Dialogflow doesn’t provide a live chat integration, which is the most important integration of any chatbot builder.
Gladly, there are some companies that provide a combination of live chat and Dialogflow, such as Botcopy.
Moreover, if you want to integrate Dialogflow with other systems, you need to use Fulfillment. With Fulfillment, you can code your own webhooks so you can integrate Dialogflow with other systems.
- Google Sheets
The marketing possibilities of Dialogflow are really limited.
In essence, you can only use Dialogflow Messenger to create a native widget and put it on your website.
With this native widget, you can change the appearance (such as the title and colors) by editing some CSS (mark up language for websites). Also, you can trigger different intents.
- Facebook website widget
- Native website widget
- Landing pages
- Facebook Ads
- Facebook comments auto-reply
- Button creator
- Custom URLs for your chatbot
Dialogflow ES is free if you stay under 180 text requests per minute. This means that you can send 324,000 text messages per month and don’t have to pay anything.
If you go above the 180 requests per minute, you need to pay $0.002 per request. Also, if you want audio input or output, you need to pay extra:
If you have a more advanced chatbot and want to use Dialogflow CX, you pay $20 per 100 chat sessions. Also, if you wanto to use audio input or output, you pay $45 per 100 voice sessions:
In my opinion, Dialogflow is really cheap. For most chatbots, you don’t have to pay anything, you can just use Dialogflow ES for free. Only when your chatbot is really advanced or when you handle a large amount of messages, you need to pay anything.
- Free trial
- Free plan
- Price per month0
- Monthly pricing available?
- Money back guarantee
In Dialogflow ES, you have a dashboard that shows the number of sessions and the number of interactions:
Moreover, Dialogflow has a “Training” feature that shows the messages your chatbot did (not) understand, so you can easily improve the answers of your chatbot:
If you want more advanced analytics, you can use Dialogflow CX, which also provides analytics on Engagement and the different conversation paths users follow:
In general, Dialogflow provides enough analytics to improve the answers of your chatbot.
- User input
- User retention
- Sent messages
- Open rate
- Click rate
- Conversion rate
- Fall back rate
- Volunteer users
- Custom dashboards/reports
Dialogflow doesn’t provide any direct eCommerce integrations.
- Buy directly within the chatbot
- Cart abandonment
Templates & Cloning
Dialogflow provides 45 pre-built agents that you can use to get started with your chatbot.
Also, you can export each agent and share the ZIP with others (which is basically the same as using templates).
Moreover, you can copy your chatbot flows and chatbot elements so you can easily reuse them.
- Make template
- Share template
- Duplicate chatbot flows
- Duplicate chatbot elements
Dialogflow doesn’t provide any optimization, such as A/B Testing.
- A/B Testing
Dialogflow has extensive documentation on how you can use their platform.
NOTE: I also have some Dialogflow tutorial videos on my Youtube channel, which I definitely recommend you to check out!
Moreover, Dialogflow provides support via email.
- Customer support
So, should you use Dialogflow to create your chatbots?
Yes, you should.
But in most cases, I wouldn’t recommend using Dialogflow as a stand-alone builder for your chatbots. I would use Dialogflow in combination with another chatbot builder.
Dialogflow is really good at one thing: understanding the user with Google’s AI. But the hard part of Dialogflow is creating chatbot flows, making a personalized conversation and storing user information (you need a developer to do that).
On the other hand, with other chatbot builders (such as ManyChat) it is really easy to create chatbot flows and store user information. So you need to have the best of both worlds. Use another chatbot builder to create your chatbot flows and integrate it with Dialogflow, so you can understand the intent of the user with Google’s AI.
By the way, here is a post on how you can integrate ManyChat with Dialogflow. And here is a video on how you can connect ActiveChat to Dialogflow.