Category: chatbots


12 of the Best AI Chatbots for 2021

Whether it’s on Facebook Messenger, their website, or even text messaging, more and more brands are leveraging chatbots to service their customers, market their brand, and even sell their products.

But even though most chatbots can handle moderately sophisticated conversations, like welcome conversations and product discovery interactions, the if/then logic that powers their conversational capabilities can be limiting. For instance, if a customer asks a unique yet pressing question that you didn’t account for when designing your chatbot’s logic, there’s no way it can answer their question, which hangs your customer out to dry and ultimately leaves them dissatisfied with your customer service.

Fortunately, the next advancement in chatbot technology that can solve this problem is gaining steam — AI-powered chatbots.

By leveraging machine learning and NLP, AI-powered chatbots can understand the intent behind your customers’ requests, account for each customer’s entire conversation history when it interacts with them, and respond to their questions in a natural, human way.

If you’re currently using a standard chatbot, but want to upgrade to an AI-powered one, we’ve put together a list of the best AI chatbots for 2021. Read on to find the right one for you.

1. HubSpot

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HubSpot has an easy and powerful chat builder software that allows you to automate and scale live chat conversations. Your customers will be able to get answers to frequently asked questions, book meetings, and navigate the site. At the same time, their answers are saved in your CRM, allowing you to qualify leads and trigger automation. Keep in mind that HubSpot’s chat builder software doesn’t quite fall under the category of “AI chatbot” because it uses a rule-based system. However, HubSpot does have code snippets, allowing you to leverage the powerful AI of third-party NLP-driven bots such as Dialogflow.

Because HubSpot is a CRM platform, using the HubSpot chatbot in conjunction with code snippets gives you the advantage of easy integration across your marketing, sales, and service tools.

2. Intercom

AI Chatbot - Intercom

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Intercom is software that supports live chat, chat bots, and more to provide messenger-based experiences for prospects. Using machine learning and behavioral data, Intercom can answer up to 33% of queries and provide a personalized experience along the way.

3. Watson Assistant

AI Chatbot - Watson Assistant

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Developed by one of the leaders in the AI space, IBM, Watson Assistant is one of the most advanced AI-powered chatbots on the market. Pre-trained with content from your specific industry, Watson Assistant can understand your historical chat or call logs, search for an answer in your knowledge base, ask customers for more clarity, direct them to human representatives, and even give you training recommendations to hone its conversational abilities.

Watson Assistant can run on your website, messaging channels, customer service tools, and mobile app. The chatbot also comes with a visual dialog editor, so you don’t need any coding experience to develop it.

4. Drift

AI Chatbot - Drift

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Drift provides conversational marketing and sales software powered by both automation (rule-based) and artificial intelligence (NLP). According to their website, “Drift’s conversational AI is trained on over 6 billion conversations to identify the patterns that engage and convert visitors into qualified pipeline.” This means the machine learning that the chatbot comes with is already pre-trained and ready to go.

5. Bold360

AI Chatbot - Bold360

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Trusted by customers like Intuit, Edible Arrangements, and Vodafone, Bold360 patented its own natural language processing technology to help brands build chatbots that can understand your customers’ intent without the need of keyword matching and learn how to deliver the most accurate answers to them.

Bold360’s conversational AI can interpret complex language, remember the context of an entire conversation, and reply to customers with natural responses. Customers can even buy your products through the chatbot. You can also give your chatbot its own personality and run it on most messaging channels.

6. Zendesk Chat

AI Chatbot - Zendesk Chat

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Zendesk offers live chat and chatbots as part of their Zendesk Chat service. Built with powerful automation combined with the technology of Answer Bot and Flow Builder for creating AI-powered conversation flows, it allows you to configure your chatbot to answer common customer questions without writing code.

7. Salesforce Einstein

AI Chatbot - Salesforce Einstein

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Salesforce Einstein is AI technology that uses predictive intelligence and machine learning to power many Salesforce features, including Salesforce’s Service Cloud and chatbot offerings. It is capable of solving customer queries with its intelligent conversational features, and you can count on it for triage and routing and data-driven insights.

8. Rulai

AI Chatbot - Rulai

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Armed with deep-learning based natural language understanding and adaptive multi-taking capabilities, Ruali, an AI-powered chatbot for enterprise brands, can understand the context of a conversation, predict user behavior, grasp customer preferences, take actions, switch to different tasks, and ask customers for more clarification.

Rulai also integrates with most messaging channels, customer service software, enterprise business software, and cloud storage platforms. You can either build a Ruali chatbot from scratch with its drag-and-drop design console and let its AI adapt to your customers or you can implement a pre-trained chatbot that has been fed data from your specific industry.

9. LivePerson

AI Chatbot - LivePerson

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By collecting over 20 years of messaging transcript data and feeding it to their AI-powered chatbot, LivePerson can automate almost every industry’s messaging and integrate with most messaging channels like your website, mobile app, Apple Business Chat, text messaging, Google Rich Business messaging, Line, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Google AdLingo.

LivePerson’s BotStudio also lets you build chatbots from scratch, without any coding knowledge, and its analytics dashboard can track metrics like real-time sentiment, bot containment rate, bot conversation time, total conversation time, average order value, and bot contained sales, allowing you to grasp the impact your chatbot has had on your business’ bottom line.

10. Inbenta

AI Chatbot - Inbenta

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Designed specifically for enterprise brands, Inbenta’s chatbot leverages machine learning and its own natural language processing engine to detect the context of each customer conversation and accurately answer their questions. Inbenta also offers a dialog manager, which allows you to craft custom conversation flows and paths.

Additionally, when Inbenta’s chatbot realizes that one of your customers needs to talk to a human, it’ll escalate the conversation to the appropriate support agent. To make your chatbot seem more human, you create a custom avatar for it, too.

11. Ada

AI Chatbot - Ada

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Trusted by customers like Medium, Shopify, and MailChimp, Ada is an AI-powered chatbot that features a drag-and-drop builder that you can use to train it, add GIFs to certain messages, and store customer data.

Ada can also integrate with most messaging channels and customer service software, send personalized content to your customers, ask for customer feedback, and report on your bots’ time, effort, and cost savings. According to their website, Ada has saved their customers over $100 million in savings and 1 billion minutes of customer service effort.

12. Vergic

AI Chatbot - Vergic

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Vergic offers an AI-powered chatbot that can serve as your businesses’ first line of customer support, handle transactional chats, and transfer more complicated problems to your actual customer service agents. It’s like a hybrid chatbot that can boost your employees’ productivity.

By leveraging natural language processing and natural language understanding, Vergic can also perform sentiment analysis, share documents, highlight pages, manage conversational workflows, and report on chatbot analytics.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in March 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.


Choose Your Chatbot Wisely

Just about every business website has some form of chatbot now, though their level of usefulness does vary. The right chatbot can give your customers a great experience and improve your operational efficiency. But the wrong ones may frustrate customers and cost you business.

The key? Make sure you’re aware of your options and the user experience before committing to any solution.

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The origins of the chatbot

The proliferation of chatbots over the last decade may give the impression that they are only a product of the internet. In truth, though, the roots go all the way back to 1966 when Joseph Weizenbaum a German computer scientist and Professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology developed a program, he called ELIZA.

The all caps make it look like an acronym, but ELIZA doesn’t stand for anything. Instead, as explained in the original Stanford article about it: “Its name was chosen to emphasize that it may be incrementally improved by its users, since its language abilities may be continually improved by a ‘teacher.’”

The reference there was to the character of Eliza in George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion (more likely recognized by people today as the character in the musical version My Fair Lady).

Eliza was hoping to convince others that she was something she was not – a well-bred lady. Likewise, the program was designed to come across as a human therapist and convince users “that they were having a conversation with a real human being.”

While ELIZA definitely counts as the first chatterbot, the term was only born decades later. In 1994 Michael Maudlin invented a program he named Julia and called the function of a chattering robot “ChatterBot,” and the term soon got shortened to chatbot.

Chatbots now

While users enjoyed their conversations with those early chatbots, most of us would not mistake them for actual people. But today’s chatbots are a different story.

They’re able to carry on much more natural-sounding conversations thanks to the application of machine learning, artificial intelligence, and natural language processing. Adding in ML and AI enables them to learn by identifying data patterns and then to apply their knowledge to answer questions and carry out tasks without any human intervention.

Their greater functionality translates into far more use by businesses and their customers. Today businesses use bots for a range of communication needs, ranging from customer service to product suggestion, scheduling, and various forms of marketing designed to engage the audience.

But the biggest area of growth for chatbots may be in sales. In Chatbots: Vendor Opportunities & Market Forecasts 2020-2024, Juniper Research anticipates that consumer retail spend over chatbots will hit $142 billion by 2024, quite a jump  from the $2.8 billion we had in 2019.

Juniper also predicts that by 2024, more than half of retail chatbot interactions will go through automatically and that “80% of global consumer spend over chatbots will be attributable to discrete chatbots” that are used  through a mobile app rather than a browser. On that basis, the report “urges retailers to implement chatbots as part of a wider omnichannel retail strategy in order to maximize their presence on a number of key retail channels.”

How to build your customer model

Examples of chatbot successes

For businesses who are looking for inspiration of great applications of chatbots in 2020, there are six standout examples assembled by

  • WHO – Understandably, 2020 created a great demand for information on COVID-19. That prompted the WHO to put out a chatbot on WhatsApp to provide “fast, reliable information related to the pandemic and combat the spread of misinformation.”
  • National Geographic Genius – This was a Facebook Messenger chatbot to promote its Genius series. The bot’s interactions varied according to the featured figure.

For example, when it was up to the Einstein episode, they got the experience of interacting with the quirky personality of the scientist.  “The result was six-to-eight minute average conversations, 11 turns per conversation, 50% user re-engagement, and an engaged community of followers,” reports

  • Duolingo – It’s a native chatbot built with the freemium language learning app to encourage users to practice through a gamified experience. It’s not one-size-fits-all but offers different style tutoring bots to appeal to different types of learning styles.
  • Erica – Back to female names with Erica from Bank of America, a financial assistant who goes beyond just offering account information. She is equipped to not just carry out basic transactions like paying bills but to offer budgeting advice.

The numbers tell the story of the success. It boasts over 7 million users who have completed over 50 million transactions with it. Users appreciate the ease of discovering the bank’s services with her and the helpful reminders to do things like cancel subscriptions.

  •  Madi – That a cool and apt name for Madison Reed’s hair color bot. For those who need help visualizing what color will work for them, this is the perfect solution.

All they need to do is upload a photo. Madi does the analysis of the hair through image recognition and also asks the right questions about what they would like.

As notes, it removes the pain of waiting to get a colorist appointment (something that may not have even been possible for months during 2020-2021). The payoff was huge: “the bot has boosted engagement by 400% with a 21% click-through rate to the company’s website.”

  • Julie – She’s the friendly and capable voice of Amtrak’s customer service. In truth, Julie is older than she looks. The voice is named for the voice talent lent by Julie Stinneford since April 2001. Read up on that in For a machine, Amtrak’s Julie is really sweet.

That means Julie has a successful track record of nearly two complete decades, which is quite an accomplishment for a chatbot. She also saved Amtrak $1 million in customer service cost and boosted revenue by 30%  automated bookings.

More reasons to get on board lists a full dozen types of functions for chatbots and shares the statistics on their ROI for businesses:

  • Consumers are 63% more likely to return to a website that has a chatbot.
  • 71% of people are willing to use messaging apps to get customer assistance. People want their problems solved, fast.
  • Web page engagement rates increase by 3x on average after adding a chatbot.
  • Chatbots increase conversions on your website by 45%.
  • 53% of consumers are more likely to shop with businesses that they can message.

The site also offers information about the various chatbots in the market with rankings, so businesses can find the ones that fit their needs and budget. With the right chatbot, your business can scale up marketing and sales with great efficiency and deliver real value for your investment.

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