Today’s customers are more demanding because they can access and share information faster. This is a reality that forward-looking businesses and organizations are progressively becoming aware of. Such businesses are investing in innovative technologies that can enhance customer support and customer experience through automation, which often includes chatbots for customer service supported by artificial intelligence (AI).
Any business or organization that still believes in human interactions as the only approach to customer relationship management (CRM) probably hasn’t seen the numbers. For instance, it is expected that up to 85% of customer interactions are already being managed without involving human agents.
But what is the best AI chatbot platform on the market today?
As more organizations and businesses embrace self-service approaches that enhance customer satisfaction through answering customer questions in real-time, the technology is also getting more sophisticated. Consequently, in this article, we focus on those tools that automate customer service inquiries by leveraging machine learning (ML) to glean context from text, images, patterns, and customer history.
Even though many customer engagement tools provide customer service agents with several features, this article focuses on the chatbot element. At the end of the article, we answer some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about AI chatbots for customer service.
The Best AI Chatbots for Customer Service List
Here’s a shortlist of the best AI chatbots for customer service:
AI Chatbot for Customer Service Comparison Criteria
What do I look for when I select the best AI chatbot for customer service? Here’s a summary of my evaluation criteria:
User Interface (UI): With chatbots, the UI must be intuitive and modern on both ends—the one that is agent-facing and the customer-facing one. I want chatbot functionality to be immediately obvious based on design context clues.
Usability: Is it easy to learn and master? Does the company offer good tech support, user support, tutorials, and training to the service team? Is the response time fast once queries are generated? How well does the chatbot do in terms of intelligence, management of errors, answering questions, navigation, and onboarding?
Integrations: Is it easy to connect with other tools to deliver valuable metrics? Any pre-built integrations? In this case, I am looking for a chatbot that I can use with popular messaging apps like Slack and Facebook Messenger.
Value for $: How appropriate is the price for the features, capabilities, and use case? Is pricing clear, transparent, and flexible? I always look for a chatbot for customer service software that provides a free trial to test drive the tool before I commit to a paid plan.
Chatbot for Customer Service Key Features
When I select the best chatbot for customer service tools, I focus on the following features:
Natural language processing (NLP): This feature makes it possible for the AI chatbot to understand messages and respond appropriately. NLP helps provide context to the chatbot.
Comprehensive Knowledge Database: Chatbots powered by AI use the aggregate knowledge base of an organization to find solutions that improve user experience. This allows such tools to do most of the work that previously would have been done by customer support teams.
Data collection: Sophisticated AI chatbots should be capable of collecting essential data and learning from it to improve their functionality and, ultimately, the customer service experience.
Compatibility with different mediums: The most useful AI chatbots can be used via different mediums, including live chat, SMS, or social media (e.g., WhatsApp or Facebook messenger).
Wait Times: A chatbot should reduce the customer wait time by providing accurate responses with speed.
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An Overview of the 10 Best Chatbots for Customer Service
Here’s a brief description of each of the best AI chatbots for customer service on my list, showing what it does best, plus screenshots to showcase some of the features.
1. ActiveChat — Best for customer service teams operating on different mediums
ActiveChat is designed to be a virtual assistant that uses machine learning to learn the language of customers for whom it is deployed. The tool does not require a long time for training. It is also a valuable tool for support agents who want to interact with customers using different channels, including Facebook, WhatsApp, Telegram, your company website, and SMS.
ActiveChat costs from $33/user/month and offers a 14-day free trial.
2.Drift — Best for customer support teams that want real-time conversations with website visitors
Drift is designed for teams that want to communicate with potential customers in real-time on the company website. The tool is designed to help customer service teams identify the quality leads that should be transferred to interaction with human agents through chat, phone, or a meeting. It contains questions that assist customer service teams to better understand the needs of such customers.
Drift costs from $40/month + $20/additional seat as needed. They offer a free trial.
3.Netomi — Best for customer service teams that want to reduce wait times
One of the main advantages of using Netomi is that the tool has native integration into other tools such as Zendesk Chat, Salesforce Chat, and LivePerson. It’s also designed to help organizations to serve up highly relevant articles from their knowledge base so bots can quickly find answers to queries. The tool provides immediate resolution to most problems by identifying feedback on social media.
Cost information is not provided. You can request a free demo on the site.
Jitbit Helpdesk’s automation engine improves workflows for customer service teams. This software can be used for various tasks: sending auto-responders, assigning tickets to help desk agents, helping managers identify tickets that have not been dealt with for a certain number of days so that they can escalate these overdue tickets. Jitbit Helpdesk provides a great reporting feature that allows you to sort tickets based on date, ticket status, or assigned agent.
Jitbit Helpdesk costs from $29/user/month and offers a 21-day free trial.
5.Zoho Desk’s Zia — Best for service teams looking for a tool that learns fast from the knowledge base
Apart from accomplishing everyday chatbot tasks, Zoho’s Zia AI-powered assistant is also trained to do other tasks like placing or editing an order based on the customer’s instructions. The software turns all the information it collects into graphics and lists so that the details are easier to understand and analyze. The tool also has a very intuitive development interface.
Zoho’s Zia costs from $14/user/month and offers a 15-day free trial.
6.Kommunicate — Best for teams that want seamless flow between the AI chatbot and human agents
Kommunicate’s automation features are extremely useful for lead generation, especially the lead collection forms that help customer service teams gather all the necessary customer details. Kommunicate also allows for seamless customer movement between the chatbot and the human agent so that resources are used where they are needed most. The software has an intuitive and clear dashboard.
Kommunicate costs from $24/month for up to 2 agents and offers a 30-day free trial.
7.Conversica — Best for customer support teams working across the entire customer journey
Conversica is designed mainly to assist marketing and sales teams to engage potential customers as they enter the customer journey. The software integrates with Salesforce. One of the tool’s most useful features is its ability to conduct A/B testing. This feature makes it possible to message different lead segments based on specific details collected by the bot.
Conversica costs from $2999/month and offers a free demo.
8.Ushur — Best AI chatbot for customer care in high-contact industries
Ushur is a tool specifically designed to assist customer service teams in high-contact industries like finance, logistics, and insurance. The chatbot is enhanced with the capability to extract data, from which it learns new skills. It can also be integrated with some of the leading backend systems like Salesforce and HubSpot.
Ushur offers customized pricing upon request and a free demo.
IBM’s Watson Assistant streamlines the customer service process by providing accurate answers to queries across different devices, applications, and channels. This tool works well for teams that don’t have a lot of experience working with chatbot for customer service tools because no specialized knowledge is required to manage the software.
Watson Assistant is free to use for up to 10K messages/month. Paid plans cost from $140/month and come with a 30-day free trial.
10. Intercom — Best for teams that want to create targeted messages for different customer segments
Intercom provides services under three broad categories: conversational support, conversational engagement, and conversational marketing. The tool comes with iOS and Android apps, making it easy to access information on the go. Intercom also has an in-app feature that provides cross-platform support for Ionic React and Native React.
Intercom costs from $59/month and offers a 14-day free trial and a free demo.
What Are the Advantages of Using AI Chatbots for Customer Service?
The modern customer has no time to wait so that they can get answers to their inquiries. When they hit a blockade, customers simply move on to the next business. This is the main advantage of having AI customer service chatbots ready and able to answer basic questions or escalate issues 24/7.
Chatbots can help a company save time and money because human representatives are called on to deal with complex problems only. AI chatbots also help the business to generate and follow up on leads by collecting customer contact information on the spot. The data collected by chatbots can be used as learning material for both the chatbot and the company.
How Do AI- and Machine-Learning-based Chatbots Differ From Rule-based Chatbots?
Rule-based chatbots listen to keywords in a query and then search through available answers to respond to the query. Therefore, they will always answer queries with the keywords they understand, using the same predefined responses. On the other hand, machine-learning- and AI-based chatbots use human NLP and machine learning to constantly learn new ways of responding to queries.
What Do You Think About These AI Chatbots for Customer Service?
Have you tried out any of the AI chatbots for customer service tools above? Did the tool meet your expectations or make it easier to help customers? Sound off in the comments. Please sign up for the newsletter for the latest insights from top thinkers in the niche.