How Much Does it Cost to Build a Chatbot?
Posted: Nov 18, 2016
Chatbots, chatbots, and one more time – chatbots! Everybody talks about them. They’re increasingly part of our daily lives, and many businesses are getting on board.
We recently argued for 6 reasons to use chatbots over applications. Most significant among these reasons is that people are sick of apps. Chatbots can help you grow your business because with them your business can easily scale and they are able to deal with sales and marketing. And they’re easier to develop than apps, requiring far less development time and fewer funds.
Small startups and large enterprises alike may be interested in knowing how much it costs to develop a chatbot. That’s why we’ve written this article to try to give you an idea and also provide you with a list of solutions. But first, let’s talk in general about what kinds of bots are out there and what differentiates them.How to Choose the Right Chatbot for Your Business
Before we offer an overview of options for building a chatbot, let’s consider a list of questions you should answer:
There are already a lot of easy-to-use and cost effective options to create chatbots. Here’s what you can do if you need a chatbot for your business:
Let’s consider further these three options for how to build a chatbot, and figure out what makes the most sense for your business.Use Ready Solutions
There already exist dozens of ready solutions on the market that solve specific business needs. Just as there’s an App Store for iOS and the Google Play Store for Android, there are also marketplaces for chatbots. Currently, you can find chatbots on the Telegram and Kik Bot Stores. Slack doesn’t have a so-called ‘Bot Store,’ but they do list all their chatbots in their App Directory together with all other tools.
Facebook, Viber, and Line don’t have chatbot marketplaces yet, but we expect they will in the near future. And you can search for chatbots across all current platforms and categories using Botlist, a catalog of chatbots. Some chatbots listed on Botlist serve multiple purposes and run on multiple platforms. So you can try this way to look for a bot that will fit your business needs.
Now let us tell you about the pros and cons of using a ready chatbot solution:
With self-service platforms, you can easily build a chatbot by yourself. Some platforms require a degree of technical knowledge, while others let you craft a chatbot without writing a line of code. We’ll take a look at the second type.
Designing a chatbot is actually pretty simple. On Chatfuel, for example, all you need to do is write use cases and user stories, follow tutorials, and run some testing. Chatfuel lets you build chatbots for Facebook Messenger and Telegram, set up AI algorithms, and integrate your chatbot with a number of third-party services. And all of this is free up to 100,000 messages per month.
One more platform we’d like to mention is Motion.ai. Just like with Chatfuel, even non-programmers can create bots with Motion.ai. Creating a chatbot with Motion.ai is simple – they claim that ‘if you can draw a flowchart, you can create a chatbot.’ You can then integrate your chatbot(s) with various messenger platforms: SMS, FB Messenger, Slack, and Smooch. This platform also lets you create web-based chatbots and chatbots for mailing. Motion.ai offers a free trial, but it’s limited to only 2 chatbots with 1,000 messages per month. There are three monthly packages if you decide you like their service:
Perhaps you’ve heard about the Pandorabots platform that allows you to create chatbots for customer support, advertising, marketing, and many other business needs. You can run these chatbots on popular messaging platforms including WhatsApp, Telegram, FB Messenger, Twilio, Kik, and Line. Pandorabots has a set of features for building chatbots, including many integrations – and they provide AIaaS (AI as a Service).
Nevertheless this platform is mostly for the developers, Pandorabots also provides a free playground for beginners and tutorials with Gifs for learning how to program their chatbots. While it’s more difficult to create chatbots on Pandorabots that on Chatfuel or Motion.ai, you might consider this option if you like but cannot code, or you’re just interested in how it works, and of course have time for this.
Here are the pros and cons of self-service platforms:
If none of the previous options sounds good to you, you can always craft a chatbot from scratch! And if programming isn’t your strong suit, you can hire a software development team. When we say ‘software development team’, we mean a company that offers web and mobile application development services.
A chatbot for an existing chat service is simply a server-side app that implements chat through an API interface. To implement this server-side app, software development teams can use various technologies. Here at RubyGarage, we use the Ruby programming language.
When you’re looking for a development team, you should also consider their ability to integrate Natural Language Processing (NLP) to your chatbot. There are existing tools for NLP such as Opennlp and Nltk. Note that NLP can also be integrated as a separate independent service.
Let’s take a look at what the estimate of chatbot development usually includes:
The approximate cost of developing a chatbot from scratch can be anywhere from $6000 to $12240.
Before you pick a software development team for your chatbot, you should weigh the pros and cons of this option:
In short, if you just need a simple chatbot for your business, you may want to look for a ready solution or use a self-service platform. On the other hand, if you require a custom solution with unique or complex functionality, then it’s best to go with a full-service software development team.
We recently developed a chatbot for our client Betwixt.us that helps employees build strong professional relationships, even when colleagues are separated by geography, time zones, or cultures.
Originally published here https://rubygarage.org/blog/how-much-does-it-cost-to-build-a-chatbot
Sviatoslav Andrushko is a content manager at RubyGarage. Sviat adores writing about web development, web design, testing, and other IT-related topics.