How Much Does It Cost To Build A Chatbot In 2020?

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How much does it cost to build a chatbot

We are often asked this question 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 in building a chatbot.

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 (You can learn more about webpage chatbots here) or deployed into existing messaging platforms. Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp (read more about WhatsApp chatbots here), Microsoft Teams, Slack, Telegram, Viber are just a few examples with some providing more complex UI elements which can be utilised in your bot. Other obvious channels to deploy a chatbot are voice; Google Assistant, Alexa or even IVR systems can often use the same conversational engine as your text-based chatbots.

For our custom chatbot integrations, we normally provide one channel with the project and then charge per extra channels as required. We’ve found that our clients will often want a web-based chatbot first and role out the chatbot onto different channels. It really does depend on the type of project. Extra channel costs can be in the region of £1000-2500.

There are a number of really good chatbot building platforms for creating simple 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 specific channels, for example, Facebook Messenger (our Carly chatbot is a great example of a Chatfuel bot). These Bot building platforms offer some good features: Visual Flow Editors, APIs & Webhook Integrations, Templates, Broadcasting etc. However, in our experience, we have found that even with free templates there is always some costs due to setup and minor customisation to attain the maximum chatbot behaviour. Our minimum price is around £1500 with some monthly costs for hosting and chatbot management and training.

Features

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 capability to a Web chatbot would be £1000. Human-agent handover or WhatsApp integration is also a popular feature.

Natural Language Ability

If a chatbot is required to support more complex natural language processing(NLP- you can read more about some of the tech terms here) 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 £2500. We utilise the best of breed cloud NLP solutions for these types of projects. In particular, we use Google Dialogflow as we are Google Tech partners and experts in Dialogflow.

Conversation skills

The complexity, scope and volume of the required conversational ability effects cost. This relates to specifics such as:

  • The number of branches in the conversation tree.
  • Quantity of questions that have to be handled by the chatbot which can often be in the 1000s.
  • The numbers of training phrases needed; this can improve the accuracy of the chatbot, (you can read more about training data here)
  • The 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 £2500 – £5000

Languages

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 £1500-3500 for each language depending on the size and complexity of the conversational ability.

Integration

Connect to existing systems, APIs, RPA, and knowledge bases

The other area which will impact cost is dependent on the planned role of the chatbot: 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. Chatbots can leverage other AI systems to provide relevant information to govern conversational flow. For example, sentiment analysis.

With so many possibilities for chat bot features It’s hard to estimate the price here, but as a rule, these types of chatbots cost from £4000.  For each integration, we would suggest a cost of £1000-2500 it really depends on the amount of development effort required for each one.

Deployment

Security

Often security demands for a chatbot project need specific features, for example, Hippa compliance. In these cases SSO, RBAC, and on-prem or private cloud deployment can be used to ensure compliance with company security policies. These can have an impact on overall project costs and again, costs are based on the demands of a specific project.

Maintenance

We offer our chatbot solutions based on a SAAS model. Costs incurred tend to be based on a yearly subscription and again depend a lot on the scale and complexity of the chatbot. These monthly costs will cover some of the following:

  • Daily supervised learning and improvements.
  • Monitoring conversations and confirming qualified intents as well as checking for unmatched intents and fixing them as needed.
  • Post-development support.
  • Third-party and integration maintenance. Making sure your bot is performing well and healthy!
  • NLP costs(if applicable).
  • Hosting and data storage.
  • Chatbot reporting interface.

As a rule, maintenance subscription costs tend to be in the region of 10-15% of initial implementation costs per month.

Flexibility

As you can see, the cost of a chatbot project can vary widely depending on the features required. Each chatbot project is different.

It’s worth keeping in mind that 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.

The Bot Forge are always available to discuss further improvements and functionality to add to your chatbot or just to talk to us about your next great idea.

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