Entrepreneurs are increasingly relying on chatbots in their customer communications. Repetitive dialogs can therefore be automated. Artificial intelligence of the bots creates further opportunities to save costs and time. In our comprehensive market overview, we have compared 18 solutions. The comparison is primarily intended to illustrate the potential and application options of chatbots. The providers range from small specialists to mature companies with 1,500 employees. The comparison is based on more than 160 different attributes, which we have assigned to 13 different categories. You can download the complete market overview as a PDF version.
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In recent years, more and more virtual assistants and especially chatbot systems have found their way into corporate communications. Marketing automation solutions are experiencing increasing demand. And why not? The advantages are obvious: personal dialog with customers is time-consuming and resource-intensive. Chatbots reduce these efforts considerably. Chatbots are particularly useful in providing standardized information or pre-qualifying customer concerns.
Communication and customer support are more direct today than ever before. Barriers or restraints have de facto disappeared due to social media. Anyone can reach out to any business directly and address them (in some cases, with publicity). This is great from an organization’s point of view, because first of all, direct contact and direct feedback from the customer is a valuable commodity, something for which a lot of money used to be spent. Today, the market is much easier to observe with the help of monitoring. Secondly, the company is more visibly discoverable in the everyday life of customers through its communication channels. Posts appear in subscribers’ timelines, and customers have the opportunity to ask companies their questions in real time. Real interaction is already a reality today. That’s the big opportunity for businesses. But part of the truth is that instant communication is very time and resource intensive. Return and effort often drift far apart. Chatbots can help companies use resources wisely. They can independently resolve a wide range of customer concerns without the need for in-house customer service or the social media team to intervene at all.
One-third of B2B companies will rely on artificial intelligence in the sales process in 2020.GARTNER
The renowned research and consulting firm Gartner predicts that a good third of B2B companies will use artificial intelligence to automate at least one of their primary sales funnels or processes by 2020. Some industries are already well advanced, while others are still in the early stages. But it is unlikely that this will remain the case. Our market comparison is designed to help you get an overview of which solutions might be right for you.
Choosing a chatbot software: These are the criteria that matter
The requirements for a chatbot depend very much on the purpose you have in mind for it. Therefore, you should think about what you want to use the software for in advance of the selection. Is it to be used as in customer service or in recruiting? Or should it function as a virtual help desk and knowledge base? The software environment into which the chatbot should fit is also crucial. In addition, the approximate number of requests you expect plays an important role for the pricing model. This for example is likely to vary significantly between a creative agency and a food company. There are various categories of criteria that play a role in the selection. We have compared the solutions in these categories for you.
The customer landscape of chatbot providers is spread across all sectors of the economy. No industry can be identified that is still untapped. Only the medical industry seems to be somewhat hesitant in the use of chatbots. One explanation could be the sensitivity and individuality of the inquiries.
Language diversity of chatbots
Many companies use chatbot software centrally for all markets in which they are active. A key criteria here is in which languages information can be processed and output by the software. With the exception of one provider, which has a solution designed purely for the German market, all chatbots can process English as a language. For all but three providers, this also applies to German as a language. Check which markets you want to cover with a solution and also think about the future perspective of your strategy.
All providers in this overview have a wide range of functions and features. First of all, it can be said that all solutions are on a very good level when it comes to the basic features of the tools. There are hardly any serious gaps where providers differ significantly. Only in the use of AI and deep learning are there a few white spots on the provider map.
Use of voice services
Voice is just as much in the spotlight as the topic of chatbots. The systems are getting better, and the solutions are slowly evolving from a nice gimmick to real added value in everyday life. Of course, it makes sense to link chatbots with voice channels and digital assistants. However, not all providers can do this with their solutions: for example, only 13 of the 18 providers have an interface to Amazon’s Alexa.
Analytics and reporting
The use of chatbots is intended to automate communication (in part). However, for all the advantages, it is also obvious that this can create a closed machine room and transparency about communication and customer feedback can be lost. It is therefore important to be able to analyze the communication and cast it into reports. Here, the providers offer a very good range of functions. KPI dashboards and the measurement of abandonment rates as well as conversion rates are standard in almost all solutions, and many chatbots also offer features tailored to agencies such as whitelabel reports or the connection of mandates to the analytics area.
The usability and added value of a chatbot for a company depends heavily on its ability to interface with different channels and fit into the overall software setup. This is where you see significant differences in alignment among chatbot solutions. For example, while almost all of them are capable of interfacing with Facebook’s Messenger, only seven chatbots can be linked to Twitter. It is also worth mentioning that seven solutions also offer an OCR interface for uploading documents.
General information about the providers
When choosing a provider, you first need to answer a few basic questions: Do you want an established player in the market or are you going for a fresh face? Is it important to you to choose a local provider for easy support channels?
That’s why in each market overview we also put together some general information about the providers: Where are they based? How long has the company or product been on the market? How many customers are already using the product?
Possible areas of application for chatbots
Chatbots are very versatile in their application. We asked each provider whether the following areas of application could be mapped with their solution:
- Article databases
- FAQ knowledge
- Search and navigation functions
- HR and employee recruitment
- Internal communication
- Lead generation
- Legal criteria
At the latest since the Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force, server location and data processing have been under special surveillance. What sensitive data does a company or private individual have to disclose? These factors sometimes tip the scales when selecting a provider.
The project starts with the decision for a software solution. But it’s usually not quite that simple. In order to be able to use the chatbot quickly and easily, we at marketingandtech.com asked the providers about their services during the implementation and training phase.
Price approach of the tool
We don’t talk about money. At marketingandtech.com we do. Now that all basic requirements (features and services) have been clarified, the obligatory look at the providers’ cost structures follows. Experience as well as the overview show that software vendors follow quite different cost models and price ranges. This can sometimes be the most difficult decision in the argumentation for or against a tool.
These chatbot solutions are represented in the comparison
Our information refers to the self-reporting of the companies. The order has no significance whatsoever and was created in alphabetical order for simplicity.
Activechat Inc. is based in Wilmington (USA). The company employs 12 people, has only been on the market with its product since 2019, and already enjoys around 15,000 customers.
USP (according to their own statement): “One-stop solution for all your customer communication needs (chatbots, live chat, conversational intelligence).”
The company behind the Amelie solution is IPsoft, based in New York, USA. The company is silent on customer numbers, but employs nearly 1,500 people and has offered the product since 2014.
USP (according to its own statement): “Amelia, a talking AI, understands natural language. As a digital worker, she provides services at scale to a variety of industries and resolves user queries through integration with back-end systems.”
assono AI chatbot
The team at assono GmbH, based in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, has 15 years of project experience in IT and has been successfully providing intelligent chatbot solutions for companies in a variety of industries since 2018. Customers include the city of Norderstedt, Kühne Logistics University and the Duale Hochschule Schleswig-Holstein.
USP (according to their own statement): “The assono chatbot is particularly flexible: customer systems can be directly integrated and the chatbot can be individually adapted to customer needs in all respects. Other advantages: Informative dashboard (through which the bot can also be trained), effective chatbot workshops, and a conversation design service for target group-oriented and persuasive chatbot texts.”
The company, called Dr. Schengber & Friends GmbH, is based in Münster and operates the chatbot BotCamp.ai. Its customers include IHK, Boniversum and Aesthetico.
USP (according to their own statement): “TOOL & TEAM. The training makes the difference. In BotCamp, we merge AI/NLU and real service professionals into smart and efficient bots for outstanding CX.”
BOTfriends are from Würzburg and employ 25 people. The product has been around since 2019 and is already in use at 40 customers.
USP (according to their own statement): “With the help of BOTfriendsX, our customers can choose between solutions from different technology providers such as. Google, Microsoft and IBM flexibly and are not tied to one manufacturer.”
BOTNATION AI is the software solution from Paris. The (almost) same-named company behind it employs 10 people and has been on the market since 2016, but can already boast 15,000 customers.
USP (according to their own statement): “Ergonomic interface, without a single line of code.”
Botsify Inc. is a Pakistani company based in Karachi. 50 employees continue to develop the company’s solution there…. 300 customers are already using the chatbot, which has been on the market since 2016.
USP (according to their own statement): “Content Aware Chatbot with Fully Managed Services.”
Cognigy GmbH operates offices in San Francisco, Sydney and Tokyo. The headquarters, however, is in Germany, in Duesseldorf to be exact. The company’s customers include companies such as Henkel, Dr. Oetker, Salzburg AG, Bosch and Daimler.
USP (according to their own statement): “Comprehensive graphical editor, open architecture, on-premises, NLU/NLP agnostic and state-of-the-art integration system.”
Munich-based e-bot7 GmbH employs 60 people.Notable references include companies such as Siemens, Telefonica, ADAC, HDI, Audi, Deutsche Bahn and several more.
USP (according to their own statement): “We can increase efficiency in customer service by up to 80%. We automate customer service processes and save costs. We can improve customer interactions by making them more exciting, and we can reduce the workload of your agents, reducing fluctuations in customer service. 20+ Awards.”
Flow.ai, with its eponymous chatbot solution, is based in Tilburg, the Netherlands. The chatbot solution has been available since 2017 and is used by over 10,000 customers. The company employs 15 people.
USP (according to their own statement): “Flow.ai is a chatbot platform for larger companies. It offers an unparalleled user interface, a high level of customization, and excellent support for automating messages across multiple channels.”
Kauz Linguistic technologies is the name of the company behind the (almost) identically named chatbot. It was founded in 2016 and sits in Düsseldorf with its 25 employees. Its more than 100 customers include Sparkasse, R+V, LBS, dm, Sovdwaer and German Family Insurance.
USP: “Kauz’s technology is based on artificial intelligence (AI) with a focus on natural language understanding (NLU), resulting in maximum accuracy even in complex situations. This allows Kauz to develop the best German-language chatbots for banks, insurance companies, online stores, companies and public institutions.”
Like almost all the companies in our comparison, Mercury.ai is still comparatively fresh on the market. The company has been offering its chatbot on the market since 2006. Around 150 customers are already using it, including Nestlé, Beiersdorf, Böllhoff, Porsche Bank, Tamaris and Volkswagen Financial Services.
USP (according to their own statement): “Mercury.ai offers dialog automation with ‘best-in-class’ conversational UX. The high dialog quality is achieved by the unique modular dialog intelligence in combination with high-precision speech understanding. Mercury NLP combines advanced AI technology with linguistic models for best performance even in challenging domains and in all project phases. The API-first approach provides deep integration capabilities and enterprise-level interoperability across the platform.”
According to its own statements, the Munich-based agency’s “Messenger Communication Platform” is currently used by around 2,000 well-known customers. The company employs 75 people and can count companies such as Tui, Huawei, BMW, Deutsch Bahn, Womens Best, the SPD, Eurowings and BASF among its customers.
USP (according to its own statement): “Multi-Messenger – one chatbot for the most popular messengers! Certified partner of WhatsApp, Facebook, Telegram, Apple and Viber.”
Hamburg-based novomind AG has a team of 350 employees and has been on the market since 2000. The company currently has 200 customers.
USP (according to its own statement): “Simple administration, no IT knowledge required. Integration of external systems (ERP, CRM), dialog capability, transfer to a real employee possible. 20 years of market experience with artificial intelligence, multi-channel included. WhatsApp as well as plug-in free software.”
OBI Bots Platform
OBI4wan come from the Netherlands, from Zaandam. About 70 customers use the solution of the Untenrhemen with 56 employees. These include IKEA, DHL, Decathlon, RTL Netherlands and HEMA.
USP (according to its own statement): “No programming knowledge required. Intuitive point-and-click chatbot builder, integrates with customer engagement solutions, CRM systems, knowledge base providers. Chatbots can be deployed on social media, messaging apps, live chat, and review platforms, among others. Seamless handoff between bot and human employee.”
The solution from Vienna-based Onlim GmbH has been on the market since 2017. With 30 employees, the company serves 70 customers, including Wien Energie, Eurotours and Netto.
USP (according to its own statement): “The multichannel-capable Onlim platform generates the appropriate response dynamically from the constantly growing knowledge base based on knowledge graphs. Thus, more substantial conversations between humans and machines can be realized. In addition, the platform is geared towards specific requirements such as retail, utilities, tourism, IT services or the financial sector via numerous conversation modules and connections for even faster implementation.”
The Berlin-based company Spectrm has been on the market since 2015 and employs 22 people.
USP (according to its own statement): “Fully-fledged marketing automation tool. Spectrm enables highly personalized direct-to-consumer user experiences.”
Smartly.AI Bot Platform
The company behind this solution is the French company Vocal Apps, which serves about 20 customers with 5 employees, the solution has been on the market since 2016.
The still fairly recent success of the chatbot scene has spawned a whole range of providers who have recognized the great potential that lies in the chatbot concept. Companies should first check what they want to use a chatbot for. Our enumeration of possible applications will help with this. Furthermore, an individual criteria catalog should be created – perhaps based on the present market overview. Which criteria should be prioritized for the planned use and the existing software setup, and which are rather negligible? The question of pricing logic is also likely to be decisive and, depending on the size of the company, may have varying degrees of appeal. Finally, you also need to assess how time-consuming it is to feed the chatbot with information and content.