How Much Does It Cost To Build A Chatbot In 2019?

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We are often asked this by clients looking to start their first chatbot project. Like most software projects the price really depends on the scale and complexity of the project. This will govern the effort involved to build the bot and define whether it needs to be a custom chatbot or off the shelf solution.

So, let’s take a look at the key drivers impacting the price for custom chatbot development.

Channel

The first one is the channel in which the bot should function. By this, I mean where the bot will be used. It could be as a website widget implemented as a popup interface or webpage or deployed into existing messaging platforms. Facebook Messenger, Slack, Telegram, Viber, Google Assitant are just a few examples with some providing more complex UI elements which can be utilised in your bot.

There are a number of really good bot building platforms for creating UI chatbot interfaces such as Botstar, Chatfuel and Manychat; these offer some free templates and the ability to create chatbots which can be deployed to websites and Facebook Messenger. These Bot building platforms offer some good features: Visual Flow Editors, APIs & Webhook Integrations, Templates, Broadcasting etc. In our experience, we have found that even with free templates there are some costs due to setup and minor customisation. So our minimum price is around £500.

Natural Language Ability

If a chatbot is required to support more complex natural language processing features and not just UI elements such as buttons then this will mean that additional effort is needed to train the bot and design and implement a more complex conversational flow. These sort of bots start at around £1500. We utilise Dialogflow Natural Language Processing to offer these types of solutions.

The complexity, scope and volume of the required conversational ability effects cost. This relates to specifics such as:
Number of branches in the conversation tree.
Quantity of questions that have to be handled by the chatbot.
Complexity of conversational ability ie. support for complex user enquires.
So chatbots which combine richer elements with complex conversational ability can be in the region of £1500 – £3000

Integration

The other area which will impact cost is dependent: what the chatbot will need to do carry out its role? Will the chatbot need to integrate with current systems to provide its responses? Will it need to hand over to live agents? Connect with CRM and ticketing solutions? Some chatbots may need to carry out complex interactions to provide answers to customer queries. Bots can even call systems utilising Artificial intelligence to provide relevant information based on historical chat data, for example using, https://www.tensorflow.org.  With so many possibilities for bot features It’s hard to estimate the price here, but these types of chatbots cost from £4000.  For each integration, we would suggest a cost of £1000-2000 it really depends on the amount of development effort required for each one.

Languages and Features

Chatbots are capable of supporting different languages, as long as these are supported by the NLP engine it’s possible to add different language permutations fairly easily. However, each language will need its own testing so costs can be in the region of £500-1000 for each language.

Finally, depending on which channel the bot will work in there is also scope to provide other functionality such as voice capability for web chatbots or enhanced chatbot interface features. Again costs depend on the amount of complexity and effort involved in building each feature. As an example adding voice interaction to a Web chatbot would be £500.

Flexibility

As you can see, the cost of a chatbot project can vary dependent on the features required. However, the cost of a capable chatbot does not have to be prohibitive and it’s often a good idea to start small and add features as business needs require them.

At The Bot Forge, whatever the cost we propose for your chatbot project our aim is to create value for your business and hopefully form a long-lasting relationship.

Developing a Chatbot? 6 Common Mistakes to Avoid

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If you are looking to streamline certain operations of your business, implementing a chatbot is a great way to go about it. After all, you can use technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) so that it can follow different types of conversations with users and provide relevant responses where necessary.

Chatbots are no longer a gimmicky tool available on the internet, as they have gained popularity and sophistication many users are incorporating them into their digital strategy. For example, a large number of businesses now use bots as part of their customer service. As these chatbots never go offline, they are always available to assist users, at any given time of day.

It is a lot cheaper for a business to implement a bot as part of its customer service than hire employees. If you employ an individual, you have to train the person and provide a salary and vacation time. One example is one of our clients https://amicable.io who replaced call centre resource with a chatbot to book client meetings.

Chatbots have a lot of advantages, which explains why businesses want to make the most of them. However, while creating these bots, it is natural to make errors, which hampers the user experience. As this might be the first or nth time you are developing a chatbot, you want to make sure it functions as expected. Here are six common mistakes to avoid along with how you can overcome them:

Assuming every user wants to talk

You tend to believe that everyone who visits your page or installs the chatbot on Slack, or other popular messaging platforms wish to start talking to it immediately. However, most of the people on the internet don’t want to communicate with the bot, unless it is necessary.

One reason why chatbots are great marketing tools is that they can engage with prospects by answering important questions. As a result, it brings down the sales friction, making it simpler for the user to invest in what you have to offer.

If your bot starts to message the individual as soon as he/she opens it, there is a high chance the person will find it annoying. A better practice would be to wait for the user to respond or you can leave instructions in the description on how to start conversing with the chatbot. Our sports events Facebook Messenger chatbot Carly utilises this kind of functionality enabling users to set push notifications for their any new sports events based on their own criteria.

Failing to track its performance

Since the chatbot makes use of the latest technological advancements in the industry, you might assume that you shouldn’t keep an eye on its performance. After all, you spent a considerable portion of your time training it, so that it can have a continuous conversation with your customers.

However, you will never know the effectiveness of your bot, if you don’t track the key performance indicators (KPI). These metrics provide a deeper insight into how you can continue to improve your chatbot. For example, you can see where most of the users tend to leave the conversation. With this data, you can think of different ways to keep them engaged so that they continue to talk to your bot. We feel that the history and training tools provided by Dialogflow enable us to track chatbot performance effectively.

Forgetting to list in directories

Once the chatbot is up and running on various messaging platforms or your website, you think you completed your job. All your visitors have to do is start talking to the bot, and it will help them in their tasks.

However, not everyone will know about the existence of your chatbot. Several messaging platforms may not have powerful search, which makes it harder to discover your bot. The best practice is to find third-party websites and lists your chatbot in it. As a result, if people look for your bot on Google or other search engines, the chances of it popping up in the first page of results goes up significantly. The best place to market your own new bot is on your website, why not write a blog post about your chatbot journey, you can guarantee other companies will be interested in your journey.

Impersonal conversations

The reason why people don’t like talking to bots is that the conversation tends to be boring and bland. As a result, they prefer to converse with human beings, as the experience is better in every way.

Think about it, would you like talking to a chatbot which sounds like it is speaking in a monotone? Rather than putting your bot in the same position, you should think of different ways to spice up the conversation. For example, you can ask the user what the chatbot should call the individual while talking to one another.

One thing is key here and we have seen this in our experience: to gain better customer satisfaction it’s better to explain to your users that your bot is a chatbot and not try and masquerade as a human. If users are aware they are talking to a chatbot from the off it will gain confidence and improve the customer experience as the user becomes more forgiving.

Not paying attention to its tone

Since the entire conversation between the chatbot and its users is going to take place via text, you need to pay close attention to its tone. Using the right type of communication will determine whether your bot performs well among its intended target audience.

While this tends to be challenging, there are several ways you can overcome this obstacle. For example, you can ask a small number of people from your target audience, what tone they would find appropriate. At the same time, you can also have a beta group, which allows you to experiment and see which one works well. Matching tone to the industry and subject matter is important to build a satisfying experience for your chatbot users.

Help and Live Agents

Since the purpose of the chatbot is to reduce the workload of your employees, you tend to assume that you don’t need a live agent. The problem with testing is that it may not take into account all the variables present in real-world scenarios. As a result, when you deploy your chatbot, it might not know how to handle a specific question.

Due to this reason, it can go on an endless loop, and the only way out of the conversation is to quit or restart the chatbot. An excellent way to overcome this problem is to allow your chatbot to ask a live agent to join the conversation during this situation. Once the employee helps out the user, he/she can provide information to the developers on how to improve the communication skills of the bot.

It’s also important to provide easy help for users to access during the bot conversation. At The Bot Forge we always implement a help feature for our chatbots so users know what they can do and how they get back on track our Facebook Messenger chatbot for the Fred Whitton Challenge is a perfect example.

Chatbots are becoming a great tool for businesses. You can use them to make life easier for your clients, by assisting them in various functions. By knowing what the common mistakes are, you can avoid them entirely and design the best bots in the industry

6 Reasons you need a chatbot to support your sports event

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Lets look at how chatbots can be used for sports events

As chatbots have become more powerful this has enabled them to take on more complex roles. Using chatbots for sports events can provide an effective tool for mass participation events organisers, sports clubs, race promoters and charity event coordinators to handle participant enquiries 24/7, aid in event organisation and provide an effective marketing tool for event promotion.

Advancements in conversational UIs and AI in sports events management may not be as fast and impactful yet as in some other sectors, but these technologies have the potential to redefine participant experiences and enable smarter event management for the organisers.

Whether you organise Triathlons, Cycling, Swimming, Running or Motorsports events, we are going to cover 6 of the reasons why you should be employing chatbots to support your event.

Chatbots for sports events- Chatbot to support your triathlono

1Familiar Technology

These days sportive, triathlon, marathon participants and entrants are savvier and demand an intuitive and seamless customer experience, using technology to fit in with their communication habits.

Every day 1.4 billion people around the world send over 50 billion messages to communicate with each other. Many prefer social media and mobile platforms for communication and expect organisers to be on-line when they are.

If users are having a conversation with a chatbot in Facebook Messenger, they are using a conversation channel they are familiar with and they are already using the technology and don’t need to install a new app. The numbers of messenger app users have been steadily rising. 2 billion messages are sent on Messenger every month (Facebook data, January 2018).

 

 

Chatbots for sports events-Chatbot to support your sporting event, improve participant conversation

 

2Improve Participant Communication

Event organisers can struggle to provide easy contact points to participants, event attendees are often dogged by problems with contacting anyone running the event.  Traditional channels such as email and organic posts on websites and social media are not performing well enough to rely on completely.  Using chatbots for sports events provides the perfect tool for organisers to send and receive information to/from their entrants.

A chatbot can enter into personalized and automated communication with entrants pre and post event. Using push notifications to send new event information or gaining valuable entrant feedback for post-event evaluation.
Using these techniques a chatbot is able to reach participants wherever they are, regardless of where the chat session was initiated, whether on a mobile app, a website and even from social platforms such as Facebook Messenger.

As a result of using this, a chatbot can be an ideal tool for last-minute event notifications to be broadcast to participants, ensuring that entrants receive the information on time and when it’s relevant. Your event chatbot can also be programmed to respond to users requests to speak to event organisers so that users are always able to converse with real people if needed, ensuring the optimal customer experience.

Chatbots for sports events-Chatbot to support your running event

3Provide Fast Event Information

From an event participants point of view, as we all know, the morning of an event can be stressful and this is often the time when participants need to get to event information as quickly as possible.
Participants spend months training, meticulously buying the correct gear and hours pouring over their training stats and their training routine but it’s surprising how often they forget about the more simple things:

  • “What time is the event parking open?”
  • “what do I need to bring for registration tomorrow?”
  • “does the shop at the event start sell inner tubes?”

A chatbot gives them an easy way to get the right event information fast.
Entrants may still have questions that an event website itself does not answer or does not answer quickly enough. Entrants often find it easier to ask than to search a website. In that case, the chatbot acts as a super navigation assistant to the current information. With AI working in the background the ability to train a chatbot means that the information it provides is always relevant and up to date:

  • what food is available at the feed stations do you know if they provide gels, I’ve forgotten mine?
  • “I’m in Wave 2 what time do I set off?”
  • “whats the water temperature like, do I need to wear a wetsuit today?”
  • “At what distance is the first feed station?”
  • “you won’t believe this but I’ve forgotten my spds can I buy any at the event start?” Sounds far-fetched but it does happen!

For organisers, this gives them peace of mind that entrants have all the required information as well as reducing the costs involved in dealing with each individual enquiry.

The real challenge is building natural language technology that supports the range of questions that entrants ask — for example, all the different ways that people might ask whether they can use tri-bars: The Aktivebot smart automated events assistant can help here.

Chatbots for sports events-Chatbot to support your triathlon event

4Multi Language Customer Support 24/7

For event organisers, the biggest challenge to serving your customers in several communication channels is responding quickly on the run-up to an event and on the event day itself. Although a chatbot cannot handle all customer queries, it can be used to deal with many of the routine event queries that typically make up most enquiries.
One of the great benefits of a chatbot is the constant availability. Customer expectations are high and event participants are no different in expecting a quick response to enquiries. Particularly when it’s race or event day it becomes vital to provide the relevant information at any time of the day.
With a chatbot, you can offer your entrants a customer service which is available 24 hours a day even when there are no employees in the office. You can rely on your bot no matter what time of the day or day of the week or timezone the enquiry is coming from.

Chatbots can be enabled to understand multiple languages. This can be very useful if you are organising global sporting events and want to be able to answer all your entrants without the costs of employing multilingual customer support.

Chatbots are scalable and capable of handling multiple enquiries at any one time, ready to step up when event day enquiry demands are at their peak.
A chatbot can give organisers the ability to have more conversations and help more people at once than other alternatives, for example, live chat applications on websites.

This ability to handle the frequent enquires where the responses are often similar facilitates organisers in freeing up event staff to deal with the more complex issues

Chatbots for sports events- Chatbot to support your cycling event

5Results and Entrant Data Integration

Event registration, deferment and results processes can still be a headache for many events organisers. Difficulties for entrants contacting organisers about their places can often cause them to look elsewhere and this is a sure fire way to create a loss of confidence in your sports event.

With the correct integration development, a chatbot is able to answer complex enquiries by integrating with existing event registration and participant management solutions to immediately look up the correct information. For example, a participant enquiry asking to defer their place due to injury can be actioned and a refund provided easily.
A chatbot can also provide information about event availability and direct entrants to alternative options if there are no places.
Event results are an important part of sporting events. Chatbots can integrate with your results data systems to provide participants with an easy way to look up their results. Chatbots can also be used to notify participants when their results are available via opt-in notifications.
Using chatbots for sports events enables you to connect your chatbot seamlessly with your entire event ecosystem- CRM, ERP, CMS, and other key events applications.

chatbots for sports events - Messenger Marketing, using a Chatbot to promote your event

 

6Events Promotion Using Facebook Messenger Marketing

There is a lot of competition for events companies these days. Sporting events happen on a daily basis meaning the choice for triathlons, sportives and marathons almost seem endless.
With all the noise and excitement competing for attendees, it’s imperative that your event stands out. Your event needs to ensure it’s the one that people repeatedly flock to ensuring a good turn out of entrants and supporters.

Using a chatbot for messenger marketing can help to achieve this.

Traditional ways of promoting events are becoming less effective. Email marketing rates have 5-10% open rates, FB news feeds 0-1% visibility and mobile conversion rates flagging at 1-2%.
In contract through a chatbot opt-in targeted messages or push notifications in Facebook Messenger have up to 90% read rates and a 40% click-through rate.

Event organisers can leverage messenger marketing  to:

  • Promote new events
  • Create noise for your sponsors
  • Request valuable participant feedback
  • Provide training suggestions
  • Drive fundraising

Creating a Buzz For Entrants and Supporters

One of the reasons we love sports events is the anticipation, in the run-up to the event itself, waking up on the day of an event with a spring in our step, and then the palpable rush when we reach the start itself,  checking our gear and attaching our rider/runner number. As an outdoor events promoter, building the hype is an important task ahead of mass participation events; this is not just to build entrants excitement, but to sell places and secure a healthy return on investment.

Maximise Sponsorship Exposure At Your Event

Sponsors are a vital part of an event.  Using Messenger marketing to provide exposure to your sponsors ensures they get max ROI and helps to gain new sponsors in the future. If you’re in it for the long-haul, and plan on running your event many more times in the future, then it’s worth keeping all of your current and potential sponsors engaged.

Conclusion

These are just 6 reasons we’ve covered

Chatbots for sports events-Support your mountain bike eventIt’s clear that using chatbots for sports events is an ideal tool to add to your event management toolbox. Chatbots can significantly improve entrant satisfaction and provides the ideal promotional tool to grow and ensure your events run smoothly at maximum attendance.

Feel free to comment if can think of any other reasons to use a chatbot to support your sports event.

Read More: Learn How AI Powered Sports Software Helped Event Organisers

 

Learn how AI powered sports software helped event organisers

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A Sports Software Chatbot Case Study: The Fred Whitton Challenge Sportive automated assistant, advanced

We report on our AI chatbot sports software project to aid the organisers of one of the UK’s most well-known cycling events.

 

Leverageing ai powered sports software with our core Aktivebot chatbot the goal was to create an automated assistant available 24/7 to reduce time and effort needed by event organisers to respond to event enquiries whilst still providing an easy way to contact the events team if necessary.

The Saddleback Fred Whitton Challenge is a charity event in honour of the late Fred Whitton consisting of a 112-mile charity sportive around the Lake District and is arguably one of the UK’s most well known and hardest sportives with over 2000 riders and 5000 applications this year.

 

 

The chatbot sports software was used by organisers to cover the event

The Fred Whitton Challenge has been running since 1999 and as a result is extremely popular with over 4000 followers on their Facebook page where a large number of ride questions were being asked via the message me button there. We wanted the AI chatbot to assist the event organisers in answering ride and registration queries and reduce the amount of time spent answering routine questions. We also wanted to provide the ability for users to look up their time for this year and previous years.

The chatbot we created is integrated within the “Facebook Messenger app” of the Fred Whitton page and users can contact it through the private “Messages” feature of their page, or directly through the Messenger App.

The sports software project

The project brief was for The Bot Forge to create an AI powered chatbot capable of handling event enquiries 24/7 which could be deployed into the Facebook Messenger framework and utilise rich ui elements. Future deployments could be aimed at website integration.

For such a long-running event, Human Race and the Fred Whitton organisers wanted to provide the optimum user experience and still make it easy for participants to message organisers directly through the chatbot if they wanted to contact a real person by messaging them directly.

The chatbot understands human language, leveraging advanced Natural Language Processing and answers questions such as “what is the fred whitton?”, “ I’ve injured myself at the weekend I need to defer till next year”,“ when can I get my race pack?”, “ help I need the GPS files for the route”, “ Is there any way to buy a jersey post-event?”,”I want to contact an organiser”, and “when will the results be available?” The chatbot replies to a question based on it’s own programmed data or points to the specific information on the Fred Whitton Website so that it works in tandem with the website itself.

Press the play button to watch a real conversation with The Fred Whitton Chatbot

The technology

We used Google Dialogflow to provide the NLP engine and Google Firebase for the fulfilment hosting. The fulfilment or web-hook is where we were able to compute more complex answers for the AI chatbot to give to users and create the correct responses for. For example when looking up users past ride times, the web-hook was able to look up past results for users from a results database. Facebook ui elements added rich content, particularly useful when asked about merchandise details and availability; linking directly through to the official shop.

The conversations

The real challenge in creating the chatbot was leveraging natural language technology that can support the range of questions that event participants might ask: for example, all the different ways that people might ask about the route. We are helped in this process by our own Aktivebot pre-created sports events intents.

Small talk

The chatbot includes the ability to provide small talk, which is used to provide responses to casual conversation. This feature greatly improved user experience when talking to the agent.

Initial question data

Initially, we imported the pre-created sports events intents (an intent represents a mapping between what a user says and what action should be taken by the chatbot).

We then looked at FAQ data provided by the Fred Whitton steering committee and historical questions to their facebook page which gave us some invaluable insight. Using this information we were able to create the conversational scripts and then implement the conversation ability with each question matching an intent

This was an iterative process. Matching user intents to core functionality and features and training the natural language processor to understand users and handle conversation failure scenarios gracefully.

The conversational UI was then fine-tuned, with rich elements implemented where necessary.

What were the questions?

Most asked questions by participants match the questions that the event chatbot is able to answer, i.e.:

  • Questions about registration: deferring places, available places, waiting list enquiries.
  • Questions regarding merchandise: jerseys for sale on the day.
  • Questions about the ride: route details, information about closed roads, clothing enquiries.
  • Questions after the event: results, photos availability, the next ride date.
Sports Software Chatbot- Top Intents handled by conversational agent

Top Intents handled by the conversational agent

The training

The questions were often related to ride specific information. This meant that for an optimal intent matching rate, it was necessary to work closely with the event organisers to provide answers to specific questions. The capabilities of an ai sports software chatbot will improve over time, the more messaging transcript data the better so the more it’s used the better and more accurate it will get. Hence the training logs were checked multiple times a day and improvements made where necessary. By focusing on all questions answered it is possible to greatly improve the intent matching rate of the chatbot over time.

The training data was invaluable for perfecting the bot conversations. The process highlights any need for new responses as a continuous cycle of continuous learning.

The “training” of the chatbot can then be used from one year to the next. Any event detail changes can be carried out easily.

Results

The sports software chatbot was launched on 21st March with the scope constrained to Facebook Messenger with no advertising whilst the chatbot was evaluated.

Activity

The high number of participants using the chatbot can be explained by the fact that visitors still have questions that the website itself does not answer or does not answer quickly enough. The chatbot was, therefore, a great place to provide up to the minute event information, such as information about closed roads and the slight route change which resulted in one more hill showing.

The chatbot was not heavily advertised so we envisage activity levels will improve as participants get used to the chatbot as a resource they can use and other strategies to engage users are utilised.

The chatbot was answering questions on the run-up to the event and also during and after.

Success rate

The success rate of the chatbot to answer queries was overall around 60%. With more focused training over a longer period with another event in 2019 we expect this figure to rise until our aim of an 80% success rate is reached.

Sports Software Chatbot Success Rate Over the Past 30 days,

Chatbot Success Rate Over the Past 30 days

Feedback

The chatbot worked well in Facebook Messenger as its one of the preferred channels for chatbots in general. Deploying the chatbot in a chat widget as part of the website itself would undoubtedly result in more engagement and something to consider for the future.

Help intents and the handover protocol were also very successful. If a user did not get a correct response and/or wanted to get help or contact an organiser directly this worked really well. The overall feedback from users was positive. There were always some intents which the bot would struggle to match the first time which would be handled gracefully; however, due to the ability to train the chatbot, leveraging AI the correct response would be prepared for next time.

I’m impressed with the chatbot it seemed to work well. I think it is a good source of help and with it learning as it goes along it would answer lots of questions going forward. If it cannot help it still contacts the organisers where we can answer.

Carolyn Brown: Fred Whitton Challenge Steering Group — Saddleback Fred Whitton Challenge

The Fred Whitton Challenge chatbot still has many areas where it can be developed and improved, particularly by providing more integration with existing systems and utilising push notifications: this will be something carried out in the future.

Overall the success of the chatbot hightlights the benefits of deploying this type of ai sports software in sporting events and is definitely something to consider to give event organisers an advantage in a competitive market

Read about our AI Chatbot in the inBusiness Science and Technology spotlight

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INBUSINESS COVERS OUR AI CHATBOT IN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY SPOTLIGHT

It was great to have our AI Chatbot featured in the inBusiness magazine issue spotlight this month. You can read the feature here 

inbusiness ai chatbot article

Image: https://chambermk.co.uk/profile/inbusiness

Inbusiness is a bi-monthly publication and digital magazine created by distributed to over 3,000 business contacts in and around Milton Keynes. The June/July 2018 issue spotlight was science and technology so it was great that the editors of the magazine wanted to cover our Fred Whitton Challenge ai chatbot, particularly when the ai chatbot was created to assist the organisers of a charity ride.

You can learn more about our chatbot agency here.

We also cover further technical details about the project here.

Facebook has removed its pause on the app review process

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In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal Facebook announced late in March that it was pausing its app review process, which meant developers were no longer able to launch new apps or chatbots on the Facebook ecosystem.
It was an abrupt halt and although temporary was not ideal for any developers planning to unleash a shiny new Facebook Messenger chatbot into the wild. We were lucky ourselves that we had got one of our own bots The Fred Whitton Challenge Chatbot live a few days earlier

True to their word the pause has only been a few weeks so its great news to hear that Facebook has re-enabled the app review process so that new chatbots can now be connected to pages and set live.

App Review is Back

Today we are re-opening our app review process. The process has changed a bit as we now require business verification for apps that need access to specialized APIs or extended Login permissions. Apps that ask for basic public profile or additional permissions, such as birthday or user friends, are not subject to business verification.

 

You can read Facebook’s official statement here.

The point has to be made however that this is a helpful reminder to not be reliant on a single platform. Particularly as Facebook has a habit of changing things. Facebook executives Campbell Brown and Adam Mosseri have also stressed the idea that publishers, at least, should not be too tied to Facebook while speaking at Recode’s Code Media conference. If users find the whole experience too unsettling then Facebooks answer is “If anyone feels that this isn’t the right platform for them, then they should not be on Facebook,” Brown told Recode.

Here at The Bot Forge its good news and we are pleased to be able to get cracking building some fantastic new bots.