Chatbot Pricing - How Much Does A Chatbot Cost in 2021?

Post by
Indrek Vainu
    Published: 
March 26, 2021
Chatbot Pricing - How Much Does A Chatbot Cost in 2021?

How much does a chatbot cost? We have heard this question a lot. And for those that ask, the most common and also probably the most annoying answer is “... it depends”. With that in mind we have put together a list of ballpark prices for chatbots for you to better understand how chatbot pricing works.

Chatbot pricing can be similar to a car. Take an old minivan and a new sports car. You can drive them both and get from point A to point B. But a sports car costs 10x of a minivan because of the features and comfort it offers. Chatbot cost depends on features and functionality you want. So let’s dig in.


Level 1 - Free.

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.

Software

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.



Level 2 - Agency

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).

Software

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.

Level 3 - Intelligent Virtual Assistants (IVA)

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 Intelligent Virtual Assistant (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.

Software

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.


Level 4 - Deeply Integrated Intelligent Virtual Assistants

Price

  • Expect setup fees from $10,000 upward. Higher end and more complex setups can be around $50,000.   
  • Monthly fee for using the platform usually in the $5,000 - $15,000 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.
  • Expect spending each month around 8-16 hours on training the IVA. This makes the IVA constantly better.
  • Integration costs depend on the complexity of deployment but expect development, testing and deployment to take anywhere from 2-5 months.

What you get

  • Natural Language Understanding Intelligent Virtual Assistant (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. Often in multiple languages.
  • IVA is able to authenticate users through free text interactions and provide them personalized answers automatically based on the data in your database.
  • 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.
  • SLA, SSO, API access, dedicated account manager. 
  • RCS, Apple Business Chat connections.
  • Some platforms also offer your developers the ability to write custom code into intents and connect that to your database through APIs.

Software

Pros

  • Deep integration with a company backend makes IVA’s answers more personalized and specific, which provides customers a better service.
  • Customized IVA-to-agent enables using AI in customer service to increase self-service and resolution rates.

Cons

  • Deeper integrations takes time and development effort for your tech team.
  • Training the IVA takes more time than setting up a simple chatbot.
  • Conversational AI platform costs are higher.

What Is A Chatbot?

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, a subdomain of Conversational AI) 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 (e.g. websites, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, SMS).

What Is An Intelligent Virtual Assistant?

An Intelligent Virtual Assistant (or IVA for short) 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.

Summary

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. 

If you are looking to try this out for your own business or needs, feel free to sign-up for an account with alphachat.ai In just 5 minutes you can get your own natural language understanding Intelligent Virtual Assistant that you can connect with your website. If you have any questions, just reach out or schedule a free 30-minute Zoom call