With the growing popularity of smart automation and bots, more and more businesses are interested in developing a chatbot of their own. Looking for a reliable software vendor can be challenging, so we've listed the main criteria to take into consideration when choosing a chatbot development company.
What are the different types of chatbot companies?
As with any important project, you need to understand what are the different options, i.e. chatbot companies, available on the market, and assess the suppliers you’ve short-listed to ensure you pick the right fit for your business.
Chatbot development platforms
A chatbot development platform is a platform that allows you to build your own chatbot without the need for developers to be involved. When you subscribe to a chatbot development platform such as Inbenta for example, you can access a back-office that enables you to create the user interface, a knowledge base, dialogs, as well as allowing you to manage integrations with third-party technologies.
Natural Language Understanding platforms
This is the linguistic technology platform that powers a chatbot in order for it to answer users’ queries. It is separate from the development platform and has to be combined with the framework to get a viable product. At Inbenta for example, we use Symbolic AI to power our NLP technology. That piece of technology sits behind every chatbot that we deploy and enables it to understand the intent behind the questions.
To draw a parallel, if a chatbot was a computer, the chatbot development platform would be the operating system, and the NLU platform would be the processor.
Chatbot developers and consulting firms
These companies take care of a project from beginning to end and build chatbots as turn-key solutions using a chatbot development platform and an NLU platform for their customers.
Criteria to select a chatbot company
Now that you know what are the different options available, we recommend you take the following criteria into consideration when selecting chatbot companies.
Criteria to choose a chatbot development platform
Ease of use of the developing tool
This is the first point to consider as it is what you’ll use on a very regular basis when building your chatbot, and even afterward when managing it or developing new capabilities. A tool that is not user-friendly and difficult to use will make your life a living hell and ultimately the difference between maintaining and improving your chatbot or not once it’s been put into production. You also need to think about future developments you’d like to implement and see if the platform can cater for these.
Security, speed and robustness
Although this is quite obvious, it is paramount to use a platform that offers the best security possible to ensure the data collected is safe. Speed is also another important criteria to factor in as you want a platform that is super fast when using it yourself, but also ensures that your users will get their answers in milliseconds, not seconds, regardless of traffic.
Dashboards and actionable statistics
A platform that offers an admin panel with dashboards and statistics will enable you to monitor your chatbot KPIs and make the adjustments needed in order to improve it and make it more efficient over time. In addition to monitoring performance, a good back-office should enable you to administer your bot by managing admin rights, adding or modifying content as well as helping you identify missing content.
Criteria to choose an NLU platform
Natural language efficiency
What we refer to here is how the system matches answers with questions. Some technologies will need to be trained on a huge amount of data, whereas others like Inbenta’s Symbolic AI don’t need any training.
How many languages are supported
This ensures that your chatbot can answer questions in a range of languages and that you can implement it on multilingual websites. Inbenta chatbots can understand 30+ languages and we’re adding more on a regular basis. See the list of languages that we support.
Response time and scalability
Once again, response time is paramount, but scalability is another important criteria to factor in. Indeed your chatbot may only have to manage a couple of hundreds or thousands of users’ requests per month at first, but you want to be sure that the technology that powers it is able to handle much more than that if needed.
Criteria to choose a chatbot developer or a consulting firm
Understanding your specificities
First and foremost, you want your potential chatbot developer or consulting firm to have a clear understanding of your specific use case and vertical. This will ensure that they know what your chatbot will have to do and the developments needed in relation to your users’ expectations and best practices in your industry.
You also obviously want your provider to be reliable, i.e. able to deliver what has been promised and on time.
Documentation and maintenance
And finally, make sure that the chatbot developer or consulting firm you’re thinking of working with has good documentation available and is responsive for maintenance. Clear documentation will help you understand the different functionalities of your chatbot, how they work and how to fix something by yourself. If some kind of maintenance is needed, and it will be needed, you want your provider to be available as quickly as possible to fix a bug or make a change without having to wait for days or weeks for an issue to be fixed.
When you’re clear about what kind of solution you need, you then need to consider a few other things in order to choose your chatbot vendor.
Selecting chatbot companies: other points of consideration
We won’t even talk about keyword-based chatbots here. If you’re after an AI chatbot, you have to be aware that a lot of chatbot companies use machine learning nowadays. At Inbenta, we use Symbolic AI to power our conversational agents, which allows our chatbots to be deployed very quickly and to be effective within a few days, without the need for them to be trained on massive amounts of data.
What kind of integrations are available
As a client, you want a chatbot that can seamlessly integrate with your current tools and software ecosystem rather than having to adapt your existing tools to your new chatbot. So make sure you ask the right questions right from the beginning and check that the chatbot companies you short-list already have existing integrations with your current apps.
Check feedback and testimonials from other clients
Finally, you’ll want to check the reputation of the chatbot companies you pre-select by having a look at who their clients are, what their customers have to say about them, if they have a stable relationship with them throughout the years and if they develop several products for the same client for example. All of these elements will help you make an informed decision and avoid getting bad surprises after the deal is closed.
We hope this article will help you select the right chatbot provider for your business among the myriad of chatbot companies out there. If you’d like to know more about how to build a successful chatbot, then our ebook will be of interest to you.