The ability of technology to not only make our lives easier but also help us improve and expand business is truly incredible. One of the most useful things we at ProCoders want to talk about today is a chatbot.\n\n\n74% of consumers choose such bots to get access to simple information. Also, according to CVS Health PM and AI project expert Adhar Walia states that around 128 million people, on a monthly basis, use artificial intelligence-infused voice assistants.\n\n\nSo, if you plan to develop a chat bot to support and enhance the capabilities of your business, you’re on the right track. But how to approach development? You have to do it right to succeed.\n\n\n\n\n\nLet ProCoders shed the light on this topic.\n\n\nKey takeaways:\n\n\n\nBasically, chatbots aren’t a new technology, but with the addition of emergent tech like artificial intelligence, it becomes one of the most useful features for almost any company.\n\n\nThere are several types of chatbots, including pattern-based and learning-based. These two classifications also consist of open- and closed-domain bots, chat- and task-based ones, etc.\n\n\nThe business benefits of building a programmed chatbot into your website or app include improved backend operations, higher customer satisfaction, and an opportunity to get to know clients’ needs and expectations better.\n\n\nThere are also pitfalls to creating a personal chatbot. For example, lack of context in messages or a swift change of topic, as well as other confusing behavior normal for humans but not for the algorithms they talk to.\n\n\nSome other challenges you may encounter while setting the chatbot up are implementing too many features at once and putting the bot in places where it’s irrelevant and not necessary, among others.\n\n\nVarious platforms are used for developing chatbots, including ones by IBM, Microsoft, and Amazon. As to the programming languages, you’ll need engineers fluent in Java, C# and C++, Ruby, NodeJS, and other tech, depending on the platform you use.\n\n\nTo launch a bot, you have to consider time, money, and existing resources, find a proper technical partner for the job, take testing seriously, and connect the tech requirements to your business ones.\n\n\n\nWhat Is a Chatbot: Emergent Technology or Customer’s Assistance?\n\n\nWhy not both?\n\n\nA chatbot per se isn’t an emergent technology as the concept was introduced back in the 1960s. However, nowadays, setting up a chatbot means connecting it to AI that processes human language.\n\n\nBesides, almost ¾ of surveyed consumers said they picked chatbot communication to find out answers to easy questions.\n\n\nBefore creating a chatbot, you have to realize what type you need for the project. While the request-response algorithm seems the same, the purposes of such bots are vast and diverse.\n\n\nTypes of Chatbots\n\n\nAs the technology itself has been around for about 60 years, different types of bots emerged over the years. There are two large groups:\n\n\nPattern-based\n\n\nThese are the earlier versions that used certain patterns in speech to recreate answers. They had a tree-like database of questions and answers. As a result, you would get repetitive answers if a keyword was detected in the query. \n\n\nIt didn’t feel like a human conversation, as whenever there was no keyword, the user wouldn’t get an answer or it would look something like “There are no matches for your query. Please, try again”.\n\n\n\n\n\nLearning-based\n\n\nThese are modern AI chatbots. They use machine learning and training to mimic human conversation in real time, understand the context of the chat, and predict the following lines by users. These bots use histories of people’s questions and responses to try and understand how to build natural speech.\n\n\nOf course, progress has gone further than creating two types of personal chatbots. Here’s a more detailed classification:\n\n\n\nTask- and chat-based – the first type helps consumers do a task in an app, on the website, etc. The second one talks to them, answering questions, clarifying concerns, and providing information.\n\n\nOpen- and closed-domain – chatbots programmed to keep a coherent conversation on general topics and those that focus on a certain knowledge database or domain.\n\n\nOpen-source and proprietary – bots set up using open-source or proprietary code. Both have their perks and drawbacks, you should choose after consulting professionals.\n\n\nAlgorithm: generative, rule-, or retrieval-based – 1) machine learning and deep learning-infused bots that generate conversations considering the whole previous chat; 2) the same pattern-based bot that uses certain rules to create automatic answers; 3) the algorithm gets information from various sources via APIs.\n\n\n\nPrior to looking for web developers for hire, consider the type of bot your business requires. And if it’s difficult to do at the moment, you can trust it to ProCoders.\n\n\nWe already hear questions about the business benefits of making a chat bot. How will you gain an advantage by investing in such an algorithm? Will it pay off? ProCoders, based on our experience, has prepared some real perks of the tech for you.\n\n\nBenefits of Chatbots for Business\n\n\nWe’ve decided to focus primarily on business benefits, leaving deep tech stuff to your tech staff (pun intended).\n\n\nCost-efficiency\n\n\nMake your own chatbot and you’ll harness conversational marketing, which is now one of the best ways to shorten the time of the customer journey and save money while obtaining new clients.\n\n\nWe’re not talking about automating sales and customer support completely. A human hand is still needed for a lot of decision-making conversations. However, partial automation during the first stages of the journey will save you hefty sums of money and amounts of time.\n\n\nSurely, to gain the benefits, you first have to hire someone who knows in detail how to program a chatbot and tailor it to the needs of your business. This will cost money, but in a year, you’ll see a considerable difference.\n\n\nHigher customer understanding\n\n\nDepending on how chatbot is created, you can actually understand customers better. Upon their consent, you can gather and analyze data that the chatbot you build requires about the users.\n\n\nYou can also review and study conversations, detect patterns, and finally realize what exactly your direct target audience needs. Do what they want, and you’ll get benefits much bigger than a good reputation. Sales will spike, and word-of-mouth marketing will do its thing.\n\n\n\n\n\nHigher customer satisfaction\n\n\nBeing able to help current and potential buyers 24\/7 without delays makes your brand much more appealing. Instead of waiting for the morning to get a consultation on the right clothing size and eventually choosing a competitor who has targeted their ad at the right time, users will take interest in your company and potentially purchase from it.\n\n\nOftentimes, the speed of your reaction to a query becomes a deciding point whether or not to buy from you.\n\n\nBesides, the conversations are usually recorded, which allows for future personalization and even higher satisfaction (and more purchases!).\n\n\nImproved back end\n\n\nAside from improving support on the customers’ side, programming an AI chatbot will improve back end operations. Automating client support, you achieve better information organization and shorter wait times.\n\n\nBesides, in this way, you automate lead acquisition and actually make it faster. AI can understand your target audience and gather new potential buyers by asking for contact information as a part of feedback, for example.\n\n\nYou will get all these benefits only if you find engineers who know how to create a chatbot for a business of your scale, industry, and requirements. Take this seriously, and you won’t experience any of the potential chatbot usage pitfalls ProCoders will show you in a moment.\n\n\nChatbots Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them\n\n\nAlthough the technology is very much advanced even in 2023, it still lacks some qualities and capabilities, which may make it difficult to keep a conversation going with a bot. Here are some examples of such pitfalls:\n\n\n\nWord choice – using negative words like “no” and “not” may be confusing for bots. Also, sarcasm and jokes, especially non-standard ones, may be perceived literally, which may result in funny yet not useful responses.\n\n\nLarge, complicated sentences – if you want to order two burgers with different ingredients, it may be difficult for the algorithm to differentiate the two. Encouraging users to write in short, concise sentences, may help you avoid such errors. Human confirmation after the order (if this is the case) will also minimize errors.\n\n\nNo context – changing the topic of conversation too swiftly may be quite confusing for the algorithm. It’s better to ask the users to restart the conversation to get specific results.\n\n\n\n\n\n\nYou can avoid them by hiring a specialist with extensive experience with AI technologies and chatbots. While errors may still happen in unpredictable conversations, using certain frameworks and APIs may minimize mishaps and ensure a convo with your bot seems like a stroll in the park.\n\n\nPossible Challenges You May Face When Making a Chatbot\n\n\nKnowing how to make a chatbot isn’t enough for 100% success. When business owners want to implement something new as soon as possible without proper planning and strategic decisions, challenges occur that may be difficult and expensive to overcome.\n\n\nPutting bots where they aren’t necessary\n\n\nWithout proper analysis, it may be easy to deploy a chat where it isn’t needed. Yes, this shows how innovative your brand is, but if the chatbot is irrelevant, users won’t use it, and the whole approach of “gathering information, personalizing, analyzing patterns” won’t work.\n\n\nNo connection with other systems\n\n\nA chatbot you set up has to be connected to other systems of the website or app. For example, if the customer is logged in with their name, login, or email, it makes sense to connect this data to the bot so that the conversation becomes natural and personalized from the start.\n\n\nA chat that seems out of place is not as easy to trust. Therefore, users may choose to skip it whatsoever.\n\n\nToo much functionality\n\n\nIt’s easy to go overboard with functionality when you want to address every possible small concern your customers may have. With personalization, in the future, more features may open to certain users, which is great.\n\n\nHowever, coding a bot that works perfectly with a limited set of questions is much better than offering a million potential issues and, eventually, no conclusive answers.\n\n\nNo adequate take-over algorithm for human operators\n\n\nThere aren’t many bots that have a smooth protocol for changing AI to human conversation. Such a transition offers a fuller user experience and makes landing a customer or a lead easier.\n\n\nWhen your chatbot can’t provide any more information or the concern is too specific, there has to be a human taking over the talk. If this happens outside of working hours, there still can be a transition like “I’ve passed your concern to our Support Center. You’ll get a response first thing in the morning!”.\n\n\nNow, it’s time to talk about the tech stuff a little bit. We’ll cover the tech stack needed to get an excellent bot.\n\n\nTech Stack You Need to Build a Chatbot and What Kind of Developers You Need to Hire\n\n\nLet’s see some of the most popular platforms for building a chatbot according to your requirements:\n\n\n\nIBM Watson – an AI-infused solution that supports natural language processing. It uses a powerful machine learning system and offers secured cloud storage. Besides, it supports 10+ languages and can be integrated with Facebook Messenger, lack, and WordPress websites.\n\n\nAmazon Lex – the platform offers creating chatbots that use both text and voice. ML and NLP capabilities are included, as well as AWS integration. You can scale your chat easily using available SDKs and add it to FB Messenger, Twilio, Slack, and even SMS.\n\n\nMicrosoft Bot Framework – a set of tools and services enabling you to make your own AI-infused bot or even bots that can communicate with each other. There’s no NLP support, but the framework supports ML and multiple languages. Integrations are available for Skype, FB Messenger, Slack, websites, Cortana, etc.\n\n\nWit AI – an open-space platform you can see how to get a perfect chatbot on. It supports NLP and its AI is one of the closest to the human level. The framework offers great ability to integrate with mobile apps and websites, wearable devices, and even IoT technologies. A large and active community also means full support of the framework.\n\n\n\n\n\n\nDepending on the platform you choose, the programming languages needed are:\n\n\n\nJava\n\n\nC++\n\n\nNodeJS\n\n\nC#\n\n\n.Net\n\n\nRuby\n\n\nPython\n\n\n\nYou don’t have to do all the work yourself. A much better way is to hire a staff augmentation company like ProCoders and let professionals do everything connected to technology. You, on the other hand, will have a lot on your plate already with all the core business tasks. So why not ask for help?\n\n\nHow to Develop a Chatbot: Non-Tech Guide\n\n\nTo sum up all the knowledge we’ve shared, let’s see what a non-tech founder can do to get an amazing chatbot for their website or application.\n\n\nStep 1. Choose the type of AI bot to use\n\n\nFor this, consider your customers’ pain points and what requests you get most often. As a result, you may choose a versatile customer support bot, a FAQ bot, a size-choosing bot (for retail), or another kind.\n\n\nYou can even choose a pattern-based bot as your first experience if consumer needs are limited to standard Q&As about the website’s navigation, contact data, and payment options.\n\n\nTo know for sure, it won’t hurt to talk to specialists. ProCoders’ analysts are always ready to help you make the right decision on the first try.\n\n\nStep 2. Define features\n\n\nClearly defining the functionality of your bot will impact the final price, time to market, and the results you’ll achieve with the tech. It can be a simple bot with “prices, delivery, item returning” sections or it can be a whole human-like AI with complex abilities.\n\n\nStep 3. Consider the time, budget, and existing resources\n\n\nAssess your current situation. Do you have a development team? If not, do you need to hire an in-house one? Or maybe it’s better to use staff augmentation services to save time, money, and effort.\n\n\nConsider how much money you can spend on the bot without limiting your businesses regular spendings. Make up a minimum and maximum number for two bot configurations – the standard one and the sophisticated one.\n\n\nStep 4. Find and hire a development partner\n\n\nChoose a company that:\n\n\n\nHas the right developers ready for chatbot-connected projects\n\n\nValues honesty, transparency, and communication\n\n\nHas a great track record and isn’t against you contacting their former clients for consultations\n\n\nProvides full technical support even post-launch\n\n\nLoves long-term commitment and studying customers’ business goals\n\n\n\nProCoders is one such company. We expand existing teams and create new ones for clients all around the world!\n\n\n\nStep 5. Keep control over the process\n\n\nNo matter how much you trust your tech partner, it’s important to receive and review regular reports and communicate with your or the outstaffed project manager on the progress of the development.\n\n\nThis will allow you to adjust processes, update requirements, and troubleshoot quickly.\n\n\nStep 6. Don’t underestimate thorough testing\n\n\nMany businesspeople, in order to save money on development, trust programmers with testing the things they create. It seems they have to know the architecture and potential mistakes best.\n\n\nHowever, this isn’t true. For testing, you need quality assurance professionals. They run several different tests, both manual and automated, to identify bugs the developers may have not been ready for. Mistakes are common, that’s why there’s a separate occupation for testing specialists.\n\n\nThis stage is as important as the creation of the project, so take it seriously.\n\n\nStep 7. Launch and gather feedback\n\n\nLaunch the bot and let your marketing team encourage users to try and talk to the new helper. Start gathering, organizing, and analyzing data early on to start understanding customers’ needs better and make immediate improvements.\n\n\nStep 8. Update, upgrade, and improve when needed\n\n\nAfter getting the first wave of feedback, you may see requests you haven’t planned for or other points of improvement. Maybe there are so many people who visit your site and need help that the bot’s capacity doesn’t match the demand. Or maybe there are some questions in your FAQ bot that aren’t answered fully.\n\n\nUse this information to up\/down-scale and improve your bot for a more wholesome experience in the future.\n\n\nAnd that’s it!\n\n\nAnother very popular topic when talking about how to set up a chatbot is the investment you have to make first. It’s popular for a reason since you have to know how much money to allocate and if it’s worth it depending on your budget.\n\n\nWe at ProCoders have looked back at our experience and here’s what we found out.\n\n\nHow Much Does It Cost to Develop a Chatbot?\n\n\nIt may cost somewhere between $30K and $80K to make your own AI chatbot.\n\n\nOf course, this isn’t the absolute final number. You have to understand that the amount of money you’ll have to allocate depends on:\n\n\n\nThe type of chatbot you build\n\n\nWhat is required to build a chatbot in your case\n\n\nWhether you need a custom or ready-to-use bot\n\n\nWhat the capacity and functionality of your bot should be\n\n\nHow much time you have on hand, and more.\n\n\n\nWe can provide you with a more specific estimate within our Discovery Phase services. Our analysis will research your business requirements, align them with the technical ones, and come back with a plan on what to do next, money and time estimates, and cost-saving options for the project.\n\n\n\nHow ProCoders Can Help to Develop a Chatbot for Your Business Purpose?\n\n\nProCoders is an IT staff augmentation company with over 7 years of experience in international projects. From Sports to eLearning, our skilled professionals have experience in many areas and are resilient enough to meet the requirements of any business.\n\n\nTo build a chatbot, you will need someone who has expertise in this technology and can create and integrate a perfect specimen for your goals. For that, we study your company and its needs, predicting the questions the bot will have to answer and the additional functionality it will need.\n\n\nThrough our Discovery Phase, we learn about your business and come back with time, money, and other estimates, open for discussion. We never start the work before agreeing on all the points, be it the colors of your bot or monthly payments.\n\n\nCustomers choose ProCoders because:\n\n\n\nWe believe that communication is one of the most important things in our service.\n\n\nWe hire top-notch talent, people who know perfectly how to get a chatbot up and running.\n\n\nSome of our developers have been working with ProCoders for almost 7 years.\n\n\nYou can start the project in 2 days if we have the right staff available.\n\n\nProCoders’ engineers are from Central Europe, which means fair pricing for high-quality skills.\n\n\n\nOur Clutch reviews say it all about the relationships we build with our clients. ProCoders is aimed at long-term commitments, so some projects stick with us for years as we develop, monitor, and update them.\n\n\nYours can become our next TOP project!\n\n\n\nConclusion\n\n\nAdding an AI-powered chatbot will transform your business by enhancing customer experience and satisfaction. There are challenges and pitfalls like poor understanding of complicated words and too much functionality from the start, but you can avoid all of these.\n\n\nThe best way to do so is to trust the development to professionals. An outstaffing agency will help you find the right engineers with fair rates and exceptional skills. ProCoders will gladly assist you with this.