How Much Is a Chatbot?

How much should a chatbot cost? We dive into the average price but give a guide on how to get the bot you can afford and still love.

Kate Neuer
August 25, 2022

This article is about chatbot pricing in general. If you’re looking for the cost of bots from TruVISIBILITY.com specifically, you can jump here

Now you want to know how much you should expect to spend on this technology. Or maybe you already had a browse around, but the cost of chatbots is too confusing. Chatbot pricing can range from $0 to $10,000/mo. Sounds insane, but this depends on several factors.

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A chatbot is an interface through which the user can obtain information automatically from a software program. The UI is usually in written form (chat, messaging) and often the chatbot presents the user information with a simple multiple choice selector.

Advanced AI chatbots (also known as Intelligent Virtual Assistants, which we'll discuss later) are capable of providing intent detection and resolving customer inquiries through natural language understanding. Chatbots are used in multilingual customer support, lead generation and sales automation across a variety of channels (websites, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, SMS, etc.). 

Table of Contents

Types of Chatbots

There are many different types of chatbots on the market. Some can be created by an agency while others you can build yourself from scratch or from a template, which is naturally the cheaper way to go. But how do you choose the best chatbot (that services your needs) and fits your budget?

Most kinds of chatbots fall into one of two categories, simple chatbots and Intelligent Virtual Assistant, which is also referred to as IVA. It's a big decision when deploying a chatbot on your page, and most businesses want the best digital customer experience available.

But if you want more than that, such as customer data platforms to collect info from your audience, the price will increase. 

Let's start with understanding the chatbots you'll come across when shopping for that ideal customer experience. Digital platforms will come in a wide variety, so try to keep an open mind, write down what you want a chatbot to accomplish for your business, and set a realistic budget based on your desired ROI.

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Simple Chatbot

As suggested in the name, this chatbot development process is not as complex, meaning the chatbot cost is often lower than that of an Intelligent Virtual Assistant. Yes, these simple chatbots still accomplish much that an IVA can do, but he pricing is different for various reasons.

Price

  • Free. Software providers offer the free tier that usually has a maximum number of users (e.g. 50 to 1,000 contacts) that can chat with your bot. For more users the chatbot platforms charge anywhere between $20-$500 / month.

Your time commitment

  • Usually 1 hour to get to know the platform and build a first bot. 
  • Fine tuning and adding more content can take another few hours. The more content you add, the more of your time it takes.

What you get

  • Clickable chatbot. The bot offers the users a multiple choice and the users get answers by pressing buttons. 
  • Most chatbots are connected to Facebook Messenger.

Pros

  • Does not cost you anything but your own time.
  • You get to build it and have control.

Cons

  • Very simple bot with often limited use case.
  • Chatbot has no intent detection.
  • No handover to human agents.
  • Little insight into bot performance.

Agency

You can also get a simple chatbot from an agency that develops the chatbot for your business. This is a one-time setup where professional development is included in the pricing. This chatbot development can be for any marketing channel just like a simple chatbot, such as for Facebook Messenger or SMS.

Price

  • Chatbot agency pricing is composed of a one-time setup fee for developing the bot. Range is typically $500 - $3,000.
  • Sometimes the agency also charges a monthly fee for maintenance, changing content, improving the bot. This monthly fee is typically $100 - $2,000. 
  • The higher the setup fee, the lower the monthly fee. And vice versa. 

Your time commitment

  • 4 hours to put together a specification of what you want your chatbot to do. 
  • Then 2 days for going through lists of chatbot agencies, contacting the agency, getting bids and making your final choice.
  • Then 1-5 days of back-and-forth with the agency before work starts on contracts, pricing negotiations, spec alignment.
  • Then 1-5 days with the agency during the setup to provide feedback and assess their work.  

What you get

  • Most often a clickable chatbot. The bot offers the users a multiple choice and the users choose by pressing buttons. 
  • Most chatbots are connected to Facebook Messenger (there are platforms that connect also to Telegram, WhatsApp). 
  • Handover to your CRM via email can be possible or connection to a live chat system. However, in those cases, setup or monthly price will be higher.
  • If you want intent detection in the chatbot, the price will be higher (see Level 3 for more details).

Pros

  • An experienced agency has a process and can get you results quicker than developing on your own.
  • The agency can offer ideas and feedback from experience to improve your bot.

Cons

  • You can spend a considerable amount of time finding a suitable agency.
  • Monthly fees can pile up for work that you later find you could do on your own.
  • Chatbot usually has no intent detection.
  • Usually no integration to human agents and your backend systems.

IVA

An Intelligent Virtual Assistant (IVA) is a machine learning based system capable of understanding human language and answering questions that people ask. These intelligent AI assistants are not only capable of presenting a multiple choice selection of answers to the user but also understand user intent from free text. 

As the IVAs are used extensively in customer support automation they are also known as Virtual Customer Assistants. Understanding natural language is a significant leap in the development of smarter machines. The ability to conduct Natural Language Processing gives machines the capability of understanding users in a better fashion and serve more useful and accurate information.

Price

  • Software providers can charge a setup fee from $1,000 (this is for lower end setup). More complex setups can easily be 10x that price.  
  • Monthly fee for using the platform usually in the $1,000 - $5,000 range. Though there are some Conversational AI platforms where the monthly fee is in the $400 range.

Your time commitment

  • 4-8 hours of getting used to the platform. Building the IVA, training it. Most companies provide 1-4 hour training sessions to get you up to speed quickly. With no code AI tools you can get started quicker.
  • Expect spending each month around 8-16 hours on training the IVA. This makes the IVA constantly better.

What you get

  • Natural Language Understanding IVA. This is smarter than your regular chatbot. The IVA can understand free text i.e. users can chat with it like they would chat with their friend
  • Also expect to have a handover from the IVA to your customer service agents in live chat.  
  • IVAs are most often connected to websites through a chat widget. They can also be connected to most messaging apps as well.
  • Handover to your CRM via email can be possible or connection to a live chat system. However, in those cases, setup or monthly price will be more on the higher end.

Pros

  • Intent understanding makes the IVA smarter than a chatbot and provides for a better user experience.
  • Connecting the IVA to human agents enables customers to receive better support.

Cons

  • Training the IVA takes more time than setting up a simple chatbot.
  • Conversational AI platform costs are higher.
  • Handover configuration and API connections to your CRM and third party system can require time and knowledgeable technical staff.

What Is Chatbot Cost Based On?

There are tons of articles claiming they can tell you what you need in an affordable chatbot and what each chatbot cost is based on. The truth is that each chatbot management company and chatbot software will set any price they want. The more advanced the bot, such as a perfectly AI system with Natural Language capabilities, can be put on your website after hours, days, or weeks of developing and cost next to nothing. Or it can cost an arm and a leg depending on the software you choose.

But how do chatbot builders price their bots? They base it on how you will use the chatbot, such as its purpose. They also will determine the type of chatbot you need to do everything on the website you need it to. The complexity of the conversations and understanding will be a huge factor on the price of chatbots. And yes, each chatbot is often a separate cost from each company. 

Application of the Chatbot

Will you be using this chatbot for simple customer service or to take the user to the correct FAQs based on their question. Depending on what you need the bot to do, your cost could fluctuate. Some other things include:

  • Personalization of tracking a customer's order.
  • Directing people to a live agent.
  • Getting people to take surveys.
  • There's much, much more you can have a bot do for you.

Type of Chatbot

What design of conversation will the chatbot have? This can depend on what you need the bot for or simply how you'd like your audience to interact with it.

1) Menu Button

Menu/button-based chatbots are the most basic type of chatbots currently implemented in the market today. In most cases, these chatbots are glorified decision tree hierarchies presented to the user in the form of buttons. Similar to the automated phone menus we all interact with on almost a daily basis, these chatbots require the user to make several selections to dig deeper towards the ultimate answer.

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2) Linguistic or Rule-based

If you can predict the types of questions your customers may ask, a linguistic chatbot might be the solution for you. Linguistic or rules-based chatbots create conversational automation flows using if/then logic. First, you have to define the language conditions of your chatbots. Conditions can be created to assess the words, the order of the words, synonyms, and more. If the incoming query matches the conditions defined by your chatbot, your customers can receive the appropriate help in no time. 

3) Keyword Recognition

Unlike menu-based chatbots, keyword recognition-based chatbots can listen to what users type and respond appropriately. These chatbots utilize customizable keywords and an AI application - Natural Language Processing (NLP) to determine how to serve an appropriate response to the user.

These types of chatbots fall short when they have to answer a lot of similar questions. The NLP chatbots will start to slip up when there are keyword redundancies between several related questions.

4) Voice Chatbots 

To make conversational interfaces even more vernacular, businesses are now beginning to use voice-based chatbots or voice bots. Voice bots have been on the rise for the last couple of years, with virtual assistants like Apple’s Siri, to Amazon’s Alexa, and why? Because of the convenience they bring. It’s much easier for a customer to speak rather than type. A voice-activated chatbot brings frictionless experiences directly to the end customer.

5) Machine Learning

Ever wondered what is a contextual chatbot? A contextual chatbot is far more advanced than the three bots discussed previously. These types of chatbots utilize Machine Learning(ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to remember conversations with specific users to learn and grow over time. Unlike keyword recognition-based bots, chatbots that have contextual awareness are smart enough to self-improve based on what users are asking for and how they are asking it.

Or you can do a hybrid model. Businesses love the sophistication of AI-chatbots, but don’t always have the talents or the large volumes of data to support them. So, they opt for the hybrid model. The hybrid chatbot model offers the best of both worlds- the simplicity of the rules-based chatbots, with the complexity of the AI chatbots. 

Time Complexity of the Bot

Time complexity is the amount of time that an algorithm takes to run as a function of the input. It is essentially the computational complexity that describes how much computer time it takes to run an algorithm.

It is generally estimated by counting the number of elementary operations that the algorithm performs, assuming that every elementary operation takes a fixed amount of time to perform. Therefore, the amount of time taken and the number of elementary operations performed by the algorithm is considered to differ by at most a constant factor.

This means the faster you need a bot to respond to a user, the more advanced it needs to be. Therefore, pricier. Essentially, the more demands you put on the bot, the more expensive it will get.

Other Factors

There are also providers that specialize in serving large organizations by offering enterprise-grade chatbots.

What you can expect from them are some great additional features, such as:

  • Booking meetings
  • Paying directly on the chatbot
  • Deep dialogue context technology
  • Multi-language chatbots
  • Video and interactive content 
  • Audit log 
  • A personal key account manager
  • Custom SSO (single sign-on)

But they all come at a price, which will vary depending on how large your audience it, how many chats you expect to have each month, etc.

The Average Chatbot Pricing for Different Chatbots

A few factors determine how much a chatbot will cost. A general rule of thumb is displayed in the table below. 

Standard subscription plan Between $0 and $100/mo
Pro subscription plan Between $15 and $500/mo
Enterprise subscription plan (custom made plans for businesses) Between $600 and $5,000/mo 
In-house chatbot development About $10,000/mo
Hire an agency for chatbot development Between $1,000 and $5,000/mo for development and maintenance of the chatbot
Consumption-based fee Between $0.006 and $1 per text or audio request

Affordable and Reliable Chatbot Platforms

There are a few chatbot software companies that will allow you to accomplish your marketing, give you a digital workplace experience, and ad ads to any channel, like Facebook, on which you deploy your chatbot.

TruVISIBILITY

The real MVP of affordable yet thorough chatbot software is TruVISIBILITY's chatbot platform. Not only can it be integrated in seconds with the rest of the apps from their all-in-one suite (like the website application and email messaging system), it can service SMS usage and Facebook conversations with potential and loyal customers alike.

Through the chatbot build, they promise that:

  • You can personalize the user's journey whether they are a customer or employee wanting to experience digital workplace like never before. This is great for employee onboarding as well as gathering lead and customer info.
  • You can capture vital data from your leads to convert them into customers in a hands-off approach.
  • With the data, you can do more with your marketing strategies, such as sending them to pages on the web that actually help them.
  • Segment your audience into lists any way you like, such as grouping younger audiences and foreign audiences together or separately.

It is always free to build a chatbot from scratch or with a template from TruVISIBILITY. Always. No trial. No hidden fees. You can understand their pricing a bit more clearly here as well.

MobileMonkey

Pricing is tricky, and MobileMonkey doesn't make it confusing with their bot platforms. Customer experience is what they are best known for with their chatbots. The development they've already put into bots is great for growing businesses who need cheaper support for their business from customer support to personal needs of the users, such as tracking an order.

Needless to say, MobileMonkey is primarily built for ecommerce chatbots much like the others in this section. Although their product has an ecommerce focus, all types of businesses can try them out for free. Keep in mind they have agency and chatbot subscription features.

Some cons of downgrading or changing your chatbot plan does require you to email their customer service. This is because you will likely be making a custom plan or project for your business.

AlphaChat

AlphaChat is a Conversational AI platform. It makes customer service more efficient and customers happy. Anyone can build their own Intelligent Virtual Assistant and set it up for customer support automation in less than an hour.

The value the product provides:

  • Increase your customer support efficiency in messaging channels.
  • Measure and increase resolution rate.
  • Reduce agent workload and leave FAQ answering to the AI.
  • Increase deflection rate in chat.
  • Immediate answers to questions 24/7.
  • Bot-to-human handover with built-in live chat.

Set it up in less than an hour. Templates for different industries (SaaS, eCommerce, finance, telecoms). AI suggests improvements into your training data. Add extra intelligence with Enterprise features like AlphaOS custom code into intents, user authentication, SSO, SLA, APIs, multichannel deployment (WhatsApp, Messenger, RCS, Apple Business Chat, voice).

What is the price for all this? You will have to get a quote from AlphaChat, but you will be able to have up to 3,000 chats with the features listed above.

What's Next?

Chatbot cost is anywhere from zero to a few thousands dollars per month. Set up fees can range from your own time to tens of thousands of dollars.

Simple clickable chatbots cost less and intent detecting Intelligent Virtual Assistants built on Conversational AI platforms cost more. Add additional cost if you want your bot to authenticate users and connect to your backend systems. 

What chatbot is right for you based on your budget? You can start with TruVISIBILITY's platform for free forever. Or, if your business and needs grow over time, utilize more features of their chatbots. 

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