11 Best AI Chatbots for Sales and Support in 2021
People expect helpful, responsive customer service online. And 40% of consumers don’t care whether it’s a chatbot or a person providing customer service. So why not delegate some of your customer service tasks to chatbots and free up valuable time for your live agents?
Chatbots can be programmed with canned answers to common questions, but if a customer has a complex question, a chatbot might not be able to provide a resolution. In that instance, a customer might become frustrated with the chatbot’s limitations, or the chatbot might automatically transfer a conversation to a live agent. But there’s another option: Chatbots with artificial intelligence (AI).
AI chatbots "learn" every time they interact with customers, and they become better at what they do. In this post, we’ll cover what to look for in chatbot software and how to find the best chatbot tool for your business. Then we’ll share our list of the 11 best AI chatbot options for 2021.
An AI chatbot is a customer-facing chat feature that learns from conversations. AI chatbots may be powered by a single software application, or they may be built with a simple chatbot app and a third-party AI app integration.
Chatbot AI includes natural language processing (NLP) that helps chatbots understand tone and context. The best AI chatbots also use NLP to change their own communication style — they become more conversational and seem more "human," as their language knowledge evolves. Some AI chatbots even learn how to use emojis.
For customers, AI chatbots provide a better overall experience. When chatbots can solve problems on the spot, customers may not need to speak to a live agent. AI chatbots can keep customers happy and minimize inquiries for your live agents.
In addition to helping customers and minimizing interruptions for agents, chatbot software collects data on your website visitors. As users move through your site, chatbots record page visits, clicks, time on page, and other metrics that can help you offer a better user experience and increase conversions.
Here are some of the other benefits of AI chatbots:
A smart chatbot can field customer inquiries at any time, day or night. For companies with international customers, the ability to offer 24/7 service is a must. And even if your customers are local, they might be looking at your products outside of your usual business hours. If they have questions, they won’t want to wait until the next business day to get answers to any questions they might have.
If your business experiences seasonal fluctuations, AI chatbots can help you respond to increased website traffic and customer inquiries. And when AI chatbots are engaging in more conversations, they’re learning even faster.
Chatbots have the ability to handle 90 percent of customer inquiries. By 2022, they could cut operational costs by $8 billion, as they continue providing the first line of customer support and giving agents time for other tasks.
Because chatbot software collects data on site visitors and records transcripts of chats, you have access to a wealth of information that can help you personalize your marketing and messaging. AI chatbots also use this information to personalize interactions — they can refer back to previous purchases while chatting with a customer, share a relevant product listing in the chat window, or just welcome a returning customer.
Automated, rules-based chatbots can increase conversion rates by 50%, so AI chatbots may be even more successful at moving website visitors through your sales funnel. AI chatbots can be your virtual sales assistants, helping prospects and customers find products, suggesting alternatives if the item they want is out of stock, and tapping into past purchase behavior to make personalized recommendations.
You’ll always need live agents, but AI chatbots can help them be more effective. With the data AI chatbots collect, agents get an in-depth profile for every customer. You’ll know the best way to engage customers — whether that’s through SMS messaging or in a WhatsApp message — and your chatbot dashboard will keep track of all interactions.
So what is the best chatbot feature? The answer to that question depends on several factors, such as your industry, the size of your client base, and your customer characteristics.
Enterprise-level companies with tech-savvy customers around the world might be most interested in a chatbot’s omnichannel messaging capabilities. Online banking and investment companies would probably put privacy and data security at the top of their "must-have" features.
Let’s take a look at some features that are important to consider when looking for an AI chatbot platform:
An AI chatbot can improve your customer service, but only if it’s where your customers are. Chatbot software with omnichannel capabilities lets you connect with customers in a variety of ways — on your website, via SMS, or through social channels like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.
When looking at AI chatbot pricing, note whether multiple channels are included, or if there’s a premium for using chatbots on certain channels.
The top chatbots include features that make them accessible to all users — automatic language translation, for example.
Keep in mind that website visitors with visual impairments may need some help finding the chatbot, which is normally positioned in the bottom right corner of the screen. Assistive reading technology would need to review the entire page before detecting the chatbot, but you can include a skip link at the top of the page that lets visually impaired visitors quickly find and jump to the chatbot feature.
Customers may be sharing their billing address or other sensitive information in chat conversations, so you want to be sure that information is secure. Look for chatbot software that includes Transport Layer Security (TLS) that encrypts data during transfer, and a Web Application Firewall.
To get the most out of your AI chatbot, make sure it can integrate with the platforms you use every day — your content management system, your e-commerce store, and, of course, Google Analytics.
Unlike rules-based chatbots that offer canned responses, AI chatbots use autonomous reasoning to help customers. Their ability to do that, though, depends on whether you’ve given them enough information to work with.
Before implementing your AI chatbot, make sure your knowledge library is up to date and contains ample information that a chatbot can access. In conversations with customers, a chatbot can scan knowledge base content for relevant information or even send the customer a link to a relevant knowledge base resource.
The best AI chatbot software will come with analytics and reporting features that enable you to review conversations, analyze outcomes, and identify any trends. For example, you might find that conversions are higher when the chatbot is proactive rather than reactive.
We won’t keep you in suspense any longer — following is our list of top chatbots for 2021:
JivoChat is a multifaceted chat platform that includes live chat, rules-based chatbots, and AI chatbots that are powered by third-party integrations. With API for both the server side and client side, developers can create custom chatbots. The JivoChat app is a true omnichannel messaging platform that enables 24/7 customer support and sales optimization. The chatbot collects data from every client interaction and protects it with TLS and a Web Application Firewall.
- 14+ CMS platform integrations
- Upselling functionality
- AI customer intent-learning in any language
- AI chatbot-to-live agent transfer
- WhatsApp integration
- Automatic translation
- Chatbot conversations push to JivoChat app upon conclusion
JivoChat offers a free Basic version with limited features and a 14-day free trial for its Professional version, which is $13/user/month.
Acquire’s platform offers cobrowsing, live chat, video chat, and chatbots. It’s not clear whether AI chatbots are a main selling point for this software — it seems to be more focused on improving live agent-customer interactions.
- Rules-based chatbot actions
- Seamless handoff to live agents
- Video chat for live agents
- Business analytics
Pricing begins at $90/user/month and includes basic chat. The Professional version includes AI functionality and is $120/user/month. Enterprise pricing is available upon request.
Source: Flow XO
Flow XO is a chatbot-building platform. Its main selling point is that it offers a highly customizable chatbot that integrates well with numerous platforms; however, it doesn’t offer AI as a chatbot feature. This is one of the best chatbot platforms for people who want an easy solution — Flow XO refers to its product as a "no code" chatbot builder.
- Payment acceptance
- Integration with FLG, Flow XO’s lead management system
- Lead filtering
- Workflow-based actions
- Incomplete conversations are saved to resume later
- Market-specific update messages
Flow XO offers a free trial. Pricing starts at $19 per month and includes 15 bots or active flows, and 5,000 interactions. For an additional $10 per month, users can add 5 bots or active flows; for an additional $25 per month, users can add 25,000 interactions.
Botsify is a chatbot-building platform that includes templates for different types of businesses and use cases (B2B services, pizza delivery, insurance, and legal services, to name a few). Botsify offers an AI chatbot for Facebook Messenger, but it’s not clear whether its other products include AI. Users must create a Twilio account to use Botsify’s SMS feature.
- Unlimited conversations, forms, and media
- Facebook, SMS, and website chatbots
- WordPress and Zapier integration
- Chat translation
- Customizable chatbot icons
Botsify offers a 14-day free trial. Monthly pricing is $40 for 2 chatbots and 5,000 users; $125 for 5 chatbots and 15,000 users; and $415 for 20 chatbots and unlimited users. Optional add-ons include custom chatbot development ($165 per month) and WhatsApp business automation ($200 per month). Enterprise pricing is available upon request.
ManyChat is a bot-building platform for rules-based chatbots. It’s not a true AI platform, so it contains no NLP functionality. Primary use cases for ManyChat include social media monitoring/responses, basic customer service, and Facebook Messenger conversations. (Instagram automation is a new feature coming to the ManyChat platform soon).
- MailChimp integration
- Webhooks API
- User-friendly setup
- CRM integration
- Conversation templates
ManyChat has a free version for Facebook Messenger only. The Pro plan starts at $10 a month and includes Messenger, with "pay-as-you-go" pricing for email and SMS conversations. Enterprise pricing is available upon request.
HubSpot offers a free chatbot builder, with a disclaimer that it’s not a true AI chatbot, as it functions based on rules. It does allow for third-party integration of AI technology, thanks to code snippets. Existing HubSpot customers may find this chatbot appealing, simply because of its seamless integration with HubSpot’s sales and marketing platforms.
- Visual editor
- Conversation templates
- Personalized greetings, based on HubSpot contacts
- Meeting scheduling
- Conversations inbox
HubSpot’s chatbot builder is free, but it’s most effective when used in conjunction with HubSpot’s paid CRM and sales platforms.
Drift’s AI chatbot integrates with contacts or a CRM to serve up personalized greetings for existing customers. The chatbot can quickly access stored information such as customer name, and company size, location, or number of employees.
- Meeting scheduling
- A/B testing for bot messaging
- Personalized messaging
- Salesforce integration
- Multilingual conversations
Pricing information is not listed on the Drift website.
Bold360’s AI chatbots are designed to manage customer acquisition and initial lead qualification and assist with conversion. These bots collect data that helps live agents understand the customer journey across all channels. Bold360’s AI chatbots can also assist new agents during the onboarding process.
- Visitor monitoring
- Multiple APis
- Automatic translation
- AI-powered self service
- AI cross-selling
Pricing information is not listed on the Bold360 website.
Chatbots from Tars include features that help sales and marketing teams see how customers are moving through the conversion funnel. Tars offers 950+ chatbot templates and a drag-and-drop chatbot builder for WhatsApp.
- Lead qualification
- Conversion tracking
- Google Analytics integration
- Rich media integration
- Call scheduling
Tars offers a free trial for its Business and Premium versions. Pricing for Tars might be out of range for small businesses, although Tars does offer a $99/month plan for early stage start-ups (with fewer than 10 employees and less than $500,000 in funding). Otherwise, pricing is $499 to $899 per month, or $4,999 to $8,999 per year — a 20% discount. Enterprise pricing is available upon request.
Tidio offers individual bots for different scenarios, such as cart abandonment, first time site visitor, or returning visitor. The free version of this software limits chatbot functionality to 100 unique visits.
- Unlimited chats
- Chatbot templates
- Live typing
- Contact segmentation (premium version)
- MailChimp and Zapier integrations
Tidio offers a 7-day trial, and a Free Forever version. Pricing for the three other plans — Email Marketing, Chatbots, and Communicator — ranges from $10 to $18/user/month (billed annually).
Ada has three different AI chatbot platforms: Ada Support (for customer service teams), Ada Engage (for marketers), and the full-featured Ada CX. The Ada chatbot uses conditional logic to determine how best to serve customers — for example, it can identify high-value inquiries and route them to live agents, and it can suggest upsells or cross-sells for existing customers.
- Rich media functionality
- Personalized greetings/interactions
- Real-time analytics
- Chatbot-to-chatbot handoff
- Meeting scheduling
Pricing information is not listed on the Ada website.
Have you decided which AI chatbot features are most important for your business? If you’re still not sure how to pick the best chatbot, we’ve got a suggestion: JivoChat.
JivoChat’s AI integration helps you respond to customer inquiries, qualify leads, and collect the data you need to improve the customer journey and create personalized experiences. Engage with your prospects and customers anytime, on the channels they prefer, with JivoChat’s intelligent chatbots.
Ready to learn more about how JivoChat can improve your customer service and boost conversions? Take a look at our chatbot features — and sign up to try JivoChat for free!
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