The 11 Best Chatbot Platforms in 2021 (Comprehensive Review)

Did you know that about 69% of customers prefer chatbots due to their ability to provide instant replies to simple queries?

And why wouldn’t they? Everyone is pressed for time and wants quick answers.

Consider this scenario:

You head to an ecommerce store. Browse their products and see something you like. But at the last moment, you have a simple doubt regarding the shipment time.

Now what?

You’ll either scythe through the website to check out their shipment details. And if you don’t find them soon enough, you’ll probably give up and head to another site to find a similar product.

The first website just lost a potential customer. Even thinking of all these lost potential customers and opportunities gives me jitters.

And that’s where chatbots come into the picture.

Things could have been so simple if the site had a built-in chatbot, where you could input your query and receive a quick answer.

To help you avoid losing potential customers, I’m listing some of the best chatbot platforms to engage, track, and convert your leads.

Editorial note: some of the links that follow may be affiliate links, meaning I’ll get a kickback if you purchase the product. However, that doesn’t change my editorial policy, which is to speak the truth. If a product sucks, I’ll say it. These reviews are as honest as possible.

What is a Chatbot?

A chatbot is an AI (Artificial Intelligence) program within a website that replicates your sales representatives. Chatbot tools leverage NLP (natural language processing) to automate conversations and engage people through different platforms.

Chatbots are convenient when it comes to answering commonly asked questions, capturing leads, helping customers find something on your site, scheduling meetings, among other simple tasks.

AI-powered chatbots can even emulate your conversations, identify specific keywords, and resolve queries. When something requires human intervention, they smartly hand over the control to your sales representatives.

What Features Do the Best Chatbot Software Have?

It’s difficult to find chatbot software that is one size fits all. There are numerous things to consider, including your business goals, budget, customer requirement, among others.

Nonetheless, there are some standard features you should consider before choosing a chatbot platform.

  1. User-Friendly – It goes without saying that your chatbot should be easy to use – for your users as well as for your team. It should also be distributed across different social media channels for a broader user base.
  2. Customizable – You should be able to customize the way your bot interacts with your leads, along with its appearance. There should be options to control your entire flow, right from the time the visitor appears on your site till you pass the lead to sales reps.
  3. Intelligence – Your AI bot shouldn’t be entirely dependent on the context you enter. Instead, it should be able to identify and respond to different jargon, slang, and idioms.
  4. Lead Capturing – Your chatbot platform should provide lead capturing options so that the sales reps are already armed with customer data by the time they come into the picture. Furthermore, the bot should be able to segment information and identify high-value leads.
  5. Data Analytics – Choose a chatbot tool that offers in-depth statistics and is able to detect your performance and lead data.

The Best Chatbot Software for 2021

Here are my recommendations for the best chatbot platforms:

1. Drift.

Best For: Large Businesses and Enterprises

G2 Score: 4.3/5

Drift is one of the most well-known chatbots on this list. It helps you deliver personalized customer support to your website visitors in real-time, helping you increase your revenue and shorten the sales cycle.

The AI chatbot lets you replicate your best SDRs (sales development reps) to engage your site visitors and steer them towards the outcome you want.

Drift’s chatbot works like your very own virtual assistant. For starters, it gets trained by observing the conversation your sales reps are having with their potential customers every day.

Integration with most of your sales and marketing tools also makes Drift privy to all the important data and key metrics. This allows them to have human-like conversations and provide an answer to almost every customer query.

And in case something requires human intervention, the AI bot would prompt the visitor to submit a ticket so that the support agent can follow up.

The best part? Since it’s an automated bot (no matter how human-like and conversational it appears), it functions 24/7 and in multiple languages.

Another great thing about Drift is its Analytics & Insights feature that helps you identify which conversational approach, on which web page, helps generate the highest conversion rate.

Other key features include:

  • AI-powered email bots to manage email conversations.
  • Built-in calendars to schedule meetings.
  • Conversation personalization based on marketing automation data.
  • Measures website engagement metrics, insights, and analytics.
  • Leverages Clearbit, 6sense, ZoomInfo, and Crunchbase to enrich existing data.
  • Integration with your existing marketing automation, CRM, sales, and ABM tools like Slack, Google Analytics, Salesforce, Marketo, etc.

Getting started with Drift is also pretty easy.

You’ll be prompted to enter “Your Greeting.” This is the message that Drift will display every time a person visits your site.

Next, they’ll ask you to enter your company’s name, avatar, and website so that your visitors know who they’re talking to. You’ll also get options to choose the color of the chatbot to match your brand’s theme.

All in all, from the appearance to the customer experience, Drift’s AI chatbot technology personalizes every step in the sales cycle.

Pros:

  • The AI bot gives you 24/7/365 coverage.
  • The process of booking meetings in a sales rep’s calendar is automated.
  • Easy to set up and understand.
  • They store a history of each conversation.
  • A freemium plan that allows unlimited contacts.

Cons:

  • A bit on the expensive side.
  • Email automation isn’t on par with its chatbot.
  • Chat support is only available with the paid plans.

Pricing:

Quote-based pricing plans along with a free plan.

2. Intercom.

Best For: Midsize and large businesses.

G2 Score: 4.4/5

Intercom is a conversational customer engagement and marketing platform that helps you increase conversions and revenue with chatbots. It helps you target your visitors, automatically greet them with personalized messages, and steer the conversation in the right direction.

The bots will do everything for you, including:

  • Chat with visitors and engaging them
  • Route conversation towards conversion
  • Schedule meetings between leads and sales reps

What I liked the most about Intercom is its ability to customize the workflow based on customer tier. For instance, the bots will try to deduce customer details like business goals, requirements, budget, company size – and provide suitable answers and assign a sales rep based on those answers.

Intercom also works as a customer data platform that segments and stores the data acquired by chatbots. Your customer support team can leverage the stored data to close more deals.

Additionally, it integrates with apps like Salesforce, Marketo, Stripe, Shopify, and more to sync data.

Pros:

  • Easy to use and set up.
  • Helps you connect with website visitors in real-time.
  • Nurtures leads without human intervention.
  • Gathers insightful customer data.
  • Provides a free demo.
  • Engages with only qualified leads.
  • Acquires important customer data and works as web forms.

Cons:

  • Chatbots are only available with pricier plans.

Pricing:

Payment plans with chatbots start at $119 per month.

3. Zendesk Chat.

Best For: Small and mid-sized businesses

G2 Score: 4.2/5

Zendesk is one of the most prominent names in the customer support market. They have built-in bots to help and connect with customers – without using a support agent.

While Zendesk bots aren’t sufficient to handle high-value leads, they can easily handle low-priority tickets. The bot transfers customer details and context to support agents if required.

With an answer bot that collects customer details like name, email, issue type, and more, sales reps can jump right into resolving issues right away. The agents can see a full picture, including potential customers’ history and profile.

Customers don’t need to repeat themselves, and your support agents don’t have to waste their time seeking basic details.

A win-win situation!

Here’s a brief overview of how it works from the user end:

Not just this, bots can also map and enter important information acquired from leads into correct ticket fields.

Pros:

  • Helps you eliminate wait time.
  • Numerous self-service options.
  • Stores full conversation history.
  • Integration with major social media channels.
  • Suggests useful self-help articles to visitors.
  • Omnichannel user experience with email, phone, social, and chat support.
  • Used by huge names in the industry, including Uber, Slack, Venmo, etc.

Cons:

  • Not sufficient for larger businesses.
  • The chat tool doesn’t have advanced reporting features.

Pricing:

Zendesk offers four plans:

  • Suite Team – $49 per month (allows 50 AI-powered automated answers)
  • Suite Growth – $79 per month (allows 100 automated answers)
  • Suite Professional – $99 per month (allows 500 automated answers)
  • Suite Enterprise – $150 per month (allows 1000 automated answers)

You get a 14-day free trial with all paid plans.

4. ChatBot.com.

Best For: All types and enterprises, sales and marketing, omnichannel customer experience

G2 Score: 4.6/5

ChatBot brands itself as an all-in-one platform to create and launch conversational chatbots – without any technical know-how. And not without reason.

To start with, you get a visual drag-and-drop builder to build your chatbot and set up an automated workflow.

There are multiple response formats and actions to choose from, allowing you to create engaging customer experiences. You can even customize the look and feel of the bot.

ChatBot is also one of the few chatbot software that provides pre-designed templates for different business needs. They have templates for just about everything – customer service, customer satisfaction, university, recruitment, package tracking, sales, real estate, and more.

Here’s an overview of the customer satisfaction template:

Their chatbot testing tool also helps you ensure your bots and workflow are functioning as intended before making it live.

If you get stuck somewhere or don’t know how to start, they have a ChatBot Academy with numerous self-help guides.

Other key features include:

  • The ability to add your team members
  • Dynamic responses and intuitive navigation
  • Interprets human speech and delivers tailored responses using Natural language processing (NLP)
  • ChatBot uses the matching system and machine learning algorithms to provide the right answers to user queries.
  • The ability to measure chatbots’ performance in real-time
  • Tailored offering and recommended purchases
  • Transfers high-value leads to sales reps in real-time
  • Allow customers to purchase, order, or schedule meetings
  • Integrates with LiveChat, Facebook Messenger, and Slack
  • Integrates with your existing CRM and email marketing software

The list of ChatBot’s features is endless, and it helps that it’s primarily a chatbot software and focuses solely on chatbot solutions.

Pros:

  • Generates and qualifies leads automatically.
  • Allows you to engage with leads across multiple channels.
  • Smart filters to guide chats.
  • Primarily an AI-based chatbot tool
  • Immense ease of use
  • Integrate with just about any third-party app you want using API, Zapier, and Webhooks

Cons:

  • The bot may find it difficult to understand some phrases.

Pricing:

ChatBot has the following pricing plans:

  • Starter – $50 per month (1000 chats)
  • Team – $50 per month (5000 chats)
  • Business – $50 per month (25,000 chats)
  • Enterprise – Quote-based

There’s a 14-day free trial with all paid plans.

5. ManyChat.

Best For: Engaging customers on your Facebook page and Shopify store

G2 Score: 4.6/5

ManyChat is a Facebook messenger chatbot that helps you automate and combine Facebook and SMS. It helps you drive sales by offering personalized experiences, generate more leads, and engage prospects through tailored content.

The software helps you grow your business on Facebook by:

  • Welcoming new customers
  • Selling products
  • Booking appointments
  • Nurturing leads
  • Capturing contact info and other customer details
  • Building relationships via a messenger bot

It’s basically your personal Facebook assistant!

Ready-to-go templates and a drag-and-drop interface make it simple to design the bots. What’s more, it integrates with other business tools you may use, such as Shopify, Google Sheets, MailChimp, HubSpot, ConvertKit, or Zapier.

Pros:

  • Built-in SMS and email tools allow you to create fully automated sequences
  • Facebook advertising features
  • They claim to provide 80% open rates
  • Connects with Shopify
  • Provides video tutorials and how-to guides
  • Integrates with 1500+ apps using Zapier and Integromat

Cons:

  • Doesn’t integrate with your website

Pricing:

ManyChat has three plans:

  • Free – $0
  • Pro – $10 per month
  • Business – Quote-based

6. Chatfuel.

Best For: Small and midsize businesses with Facebook and Instagram stores

G2 Score: 4.5/5

Chatfuel is another no-code chatbot software for Messenger, Facebook, and Instagram. It helps you automate support on Facebook, increase sales, and reduce cost.

It not only engages with prospects 24/7 but also connects warm leads with your sales reps. Other functions include automated drip campaigns & broadcasts and automated FAQs. These are the features that you get even with the free plan.

The paid plans offer more advanced features like administrative control for collaboration, A/B testing, white-labeled dashboard, Shopify cart reminders, Facebook ads targeting, etc.

Pros:

  • You can get started for free
  • Offers a free demo
  • 30-day refund policy
  • Extensive integration options using an API

Cons:

  • No automatic backups
  • Some may find the builder and the UI a bit clunky

Pricing:

It has a free plan that allows up to 50 users and provides a full-featured bot. The Pro plan starts from $15/month and has no user limit.

7. Tidio.

Best For: Individuals, small and midsize businesses

G2 Score: 4.6/5

Tidio is a live chat platform that provides a better customer experience with automated chatbots. Built-in live chat, messenger, and email tools also help you provide multi-channel support to your customers.

Start by picking one conversion bot template, active the AI chatbot, and leave the rest to Tidio. There are different templates for different scenarios and industries – for generating leads, scheduling a call, boosting online sales, for restaurants, and more.

Here are some chatbot template examples by Tidio:

You can even customize the templates to further suit your requirements using the drag-and-drop builder.

Tidio uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology to identify frequently used keywords and their common responses. This helps the bot divert the customer, resolve simple queries, gauge customer intentions, or capture lead details (email, name, phone number).

What I liked the most about Tidio is its ability to ask for customer feedback without being too promotional. It lets you set up surveys, short question-answers, and ratings to simultaneously engage visitors and gather feedback.

Other than that, you can monitor results and get a clear picture of how leads navigate your website in real-time. This helps you follow up with them, identify their goals, and segment users based on their value.

Pros:

  • User-friendly UI
  • Learn who browses your website and get in touch with them
  • Live chat, email marketing, automated chatbots – all in one place
  • Integration with third-party tools like Shopify, Mailchimp, Wix, WordPress, HubSpot
  • Impressive design and animation in the chat widget

Cons:

  • The server API isn’t sufficient
  • You can’t access messages from multiple websites on the same Tidio page.

Pricing:

The starter plan costs $18 per month, which provides unlimited chatbots, chatbot templates, and a visual chatbot editor. They also have a free plan, but it doesn’t come with chatbot functionality.

8. Flow XO.

Best For: Individuals and small businesses

G2 Score: 4.1/5

Flow XO is another platform that lets you create chatbots easily – no coding required.

You can use these bots to communicate with your leads on multiple platforms, including different websites, applications, and social media channels.

Here’s a quick overview of everything Flow XO’s bot does:

  • Welcome visitors, guide them through your site and help them find the information they need
  • Provide answers to common questions
  • Gather information
  • Request and receive payments
  • Hand over conversations to user agents
  • Clarify and pre-filter customer data and identify warm leads
  • Provide light-hearted commentary and funny tips
  • Allows you to ‘what if’ conditions to your workflow

Pros:

  • Simple and straightforward chatbot
  • Omnichannel customer experience
  • Integration with 100+ cloud-based apps

Cons:

  • The workflow is a bit tedious and may get slower after 30 blocks.

Pricing:

You can start for free and get access to 2 weeks of logs, 5 bots, and 500 interactions. The standard plan costs $19/month and allows 5000 interactions, 15 bots, and 3 months of logs.

9. MobileMonkey.

Best For: Small businesses with a Facebook store

G2 Score: 4.9/5

MobileMonkey has a chatbot builder that lets you create Facebook Messenger chatbots, website bots, and even text messaging. You don’t have to create multiple bots either – just create a single bot and use it on multiple platforms using its OmniChat technology.

Sales reps can monitor everything and respond to all messages from a single desktop or mobile app. Integration with other business apps like CRM tools, email marketing services, webinar platforms, and more also unifies all marketing functions and data in one place.

Pros:

  • Routes urgent chats to sales reps
  • It helps you manage Facebook ads
  • Leverages AI for user intent
  • Auto-respond to Facebook comments
  • Helps segment your audience based on their interest
  • Integration with WordPress with the WP-Chatbot plugin
  • Provides chatbot building tutorials

Cons:

  • Not sufficient for large businesses
  • No email marketing functions

Pricing:

Plans start from $14.25/month/billed annually. There’s also a free plan with limited features.

10. Botsify.

Best For: Midsize and large businesses

G2 Score: 4.5/5

Botsify provides chatbot support for your website, SMS, Messenger, and WhatsApp – from a single dashboard.

You can create different types of chatbots and use them for different scenarios, which is convenient for multitasking. And when there’s something urgent or when faced with a high-value lead, the bot can quickly switch to human support.

Built-in, customizable conversational forms come in handy for lead generation. You can even store the information acquired through these forms in spreadsheets or in your CRM tool.

Pros:

  • Can converse in 190+ languages
  • Integration with WordPress and Zapier
  • Dedicated account manager for chatbot development
  • Weekly reports of chatbot stats
  • You can integrate with Chatbase to track your chatbot analytics

Cons:

  • Not an acclaimed product
  • Somewhat expensive
  • No freemium plan

Pricing:

Botsify has four plans, starting from $40/month. The start plan allows 2 chatbots and up to 5000 users. There’s also a 14-day free trial.

11. HubSpot Service Hub.

Best For: Businesses that are already using a HubSpot service

G2 Score: 4.4/5

HubSpot is a smart choice if you want all-in-all marketing automation, CRM, and live chat software.

The best part? You get a free plan with the entire service suite, which is convenient for beginners and small businesses.

The live chat tool comes powered with a free chatbot builder that helps you quality leads, provide answers to common questions, book meetings, guide customers, etc.

And since it’s synced with HubSpot’s CRM, your bots can deliver a more personalized experience based on existing customer data.

The only downside is that the chatbot isn’t its primary tool, so don’t expect all the bells and whistles you’d get in a core chatbot platform.

Pros:

  • Ready-to-use chatbot platforms based on your business goals
  • One of the most acclaimed tools on the list
  • Chatbot function is free and a part of HubSpot Service Hub

Cons:

  • You might find advanced features in the Service Hub a bit confusing.

Pricing:

Plans start from $45/per month. There’s also a free plan that provides conversational bots with limited features. Both the starter plan and the free plan provide limited features like ticket creation, lead qualification, booking meetings, etc.

That’s a Wrap.

Good customer support can do wonders for your business. And the chatbot tools recommended on this list are specially designed to engage, track, and manage your customers for you.

Here’s a quick overview of my recommendations for the best chatbot software:

  • Drift – Best for large businesses
  • Intercom – Best for segmenting automatically customer data
  • Zendesk – Best for midsize businesses
  • ChatBot – Most versatile chatbot features
  • ManyChat – Best for Facebook and Shopify store owners
  • Chatfuel – Affordable chatbot tool
  • Tidio – Affordable and ideal for beginners
  • Flow XO – Best for an omnichannel experience
  • MobileMonkey – Best for users with a Facebook store and WordPress site
  • Botsify – Ideal to engage global customers
  • HubSpot – Best for existing HubSpot users

Deepti Jain

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