If you run a business with a website or social media presence, a chatbot is a fun and innovative way to improve your customer experience. Users can hop onto your website or their social media account and get answers to questions without requiring a human worker to reply.
The chatbot experience helps your customers get answers from your company without the added expense of a new customer service team member. With a chatbot app, you can build a responsive set of answers to common questions without any knowledge of code or the expense of hiring a developer. Follow along to learn more about how to choose the best AI chatbot app and some of the best apps to get you started.
01 Best Overall: ManyChat
ManyChat is popular with bot enthusiasts for its fast and simple Facebook Messenger bots. It is ideal for someone starting out, as it includes a free account that offers unlimited broadcasts, two sequences, and some layers of customization. Paid accounts start at $10 per month for interactions with 500 subscribers and go up to $145 per month for up to 25,000 users.
The biggest downside of ManyChat is that it is limited to the Facebook platform. However, Facebook Messenger is one of the most popular destinations for bots. Facebook has more than 2.25 billion monthly active users, so odds are your customers are already there.
You can get started and build a bot in as little as two minutes with no code. Using a drag and drop builder, you can create conversations, responses, and get your most important settings setup in a few minutes. Connect to Facebook and you can get up and running quickly with an automated sales funnel and list builder.
02 Best for Developers: PandoraBots
PandoraBots offers users an API (application programming interface) that gives you or your developers the power to deploy your bot nearly anywhere. That takes your chat experience beyond Facebook to nearly any social platform or use case.
The AI platform claims over a quarter million developers, 300,000 bots, and 60 billion messages sent. You can start for free with up to 1,000 messages per month. The developer platform charges $0.0025 cents per message with up to 10 bots and 100,000 messages per month. Beyond that, you’ll need custom enterprise pricing.
There are some user-friendly features, but due to the nature of APIs and integrations, PandoraBots skews better for experienced computer users and developers. It may be harder to turn this into a DIY solution for your business depending on your needs. However, it can do a lot more than most others.
03 Best for Facebook Messenger: Chatfuel
Chatfuel supports both Facebook Messenger and Telegram, making it a bit more flexible in some aspects. However, the most popular use will still most likely be on Facebook, as Messenger’s more than 1 billion users far outnumber the 200 million at Telegram.
Chatfuel uses templates to get your bot up and running quickly. Those include publishing, real estate agent, influencer, and Shopify bots, for example. A basic account is free for up to 1,000 subscribers and includes basic features and Chatfuel branding. Paid accounts start at $15 per month with a Pro plan and $300 per month for the Premium plan, which offers more subscribers, white labeled branding, and improved support.
The simplicity in getting started can’t be overstated. Just click to link your Facebook account, choose a page, and a blank template will show up on the screen. Create your sequences and you’ll be off and running in no time.
04 Best Flowchart-Style Setup: HubSpot Chatbot Builder (formerly Motion.ai)
Formerly known as Motion.ai, HubSpot Chatbot Builder integrates with Facebook Messenger, Slack, SMS, Email, and the web, making it a versatile and flexible AI chatbot platform. It is geared toward visual workers, as the backend platform is built on a flowchart style setup.
If you are a project manager, you will find this platform easy and familiar from the start. HubSpot is a content marketing company, and it is optimized to help you do things like qualify leads, book client meetings, and respond to a growing customer base without hiring more customer service representatives to respond manually.
HubSpot offers the chatbot builder as one tool in a larger Marketing Hub package that includes many other features. Basic features are free, and plans include a $50/month start package, $800/month professional package, and $3,200+ enterprise package. If you want all of your marketing, including your chatbot, on one integrated platform, you should look at HubSpot.
05 Best for Multiple Platforms: Sequel
To most coders, “sequel” is a name for a database platform. This Sequel is far different from SQL, however. Focused on storytelling and editorial features, common needs for online marketers, this application supports a wide range of platforms. Those include Facebook, WhatsApp, Slack, Viber, Telegram, SMS, Kik, and LINE.
New users can start with pre-built bot templates. These are useful for a wide range of cases, including publishers, influencers, and even building your own interactive game or quiz. You can utilize the platform for free, but do have to pay for some value-adding services and features via the Sequel Store.
This is a very low-risk place to start, as you can do much of what you need for free. However, pricing isn’t very transparent in regard to what you may have to spend to access additional features from the store.
06 Best Features: ChatBot
A site with arguably the best name for a chatbot tool, ChatBot helps you build bots to automate your customer service needs. It integrates with a range of tools including Facebook, Skype, Twitter, Slack, YouTube, Twitter, Kik, and LiveChat. Accounts are free for a 14-day trial and then start at $50 per month for 1,000 conversations. Additional conversations are 1 cent each.
Integrating with Chat.io gives your bot superpowers. Those include 24/7 customer service, spam filters, and automatic responses for programmable use cases. If someone gets stuck, you can transfer a chat to a human on the fly. This requires an external account.
If you want help getting started, Chatbot.com offers an expert marketplace with partners you can hire to help you build and optimize your chatbot. Many apps make a do-it-yourself chatbot easy enough. However, knowing you can bring in an expert gives you a backup plan if all doesn’t go as well as expected.
07 Best for Enterprise Users: SAP Conversational AI (formerly Recast.AI)
Recast.AI was scooped up by SAP, one of the largest enterprise software companies in the world, and it morphed into SAP Conversational AI with the change. This bot is all about enterprise-level reporting and analytics on top of the platform to build and integrate your bot.
SAP’s bot builder gives you connections to just about every chat platform you would want. Those include Facebook, Skype, Slack, Telegram, Kik, and others. It offers extensive developer resources and flexibility to meet virtually any use case.
You can build unlimited bots for free with up to three requests per second. If your company needs more than that, you’ll have to work with SAP sales for a custom price quote.
08 Best Hybrid (Bot and Human Support): Botsify
Botsify is built to help you start your customer service with a bot and transition to a human support agent if the bot gets stuck. This helps you avoid bot horror stories and mistakes in your automated replies.
This app charges $50 per month for the Pro Plan after a 14-day free trial. You get a discounted rate of $520 per year when you pay for the full 12-month Pro Plan in advance. The subscription includes unlimited bots, 30,000 unique users, and unlimited response variables with 24/7 support available.
Botsify gives you a wide range of options with integrations for Facebook, Slack, and your company’s website. It also offers an educational platform ideal for teachers and schools to work with students in a unique way. Check out some templates if you want an easy route to getting started.