The way companies communicate with their customers—whether it be for support, marketing, or sales—is changing rapidly.
One of the most modern forms of frontline communication comes from the ever-growing and increasingly popular chatbot. In fact, some estimates suggest 80 percent of companies will be using a chatbot by 2020. The growth in chatbot use shouldn’t come as a surprise. Chatbots save on company overhead and provide a quick and effective solution for customers through a comprehensive web of responses based on commonly-asked questions. For companies looking to add a chatbot to their team, choosing which chatbot builder to use is crucial.
A bot is a software program. To chat is to talk, usually in a friendly manner. Combine those two things, and you get a chatbot—a program designed to communicate and interact with users.
What you may consider the best chatbot builder largely depends on what your business requires. No matter what kind of business you run— a startup, SMB, or large enterprise—there are plenty of chatbot builders to choose from.
The 8 best chatbot builders
Chatfuel for its ease of use
Botsify for its "Human Takeover" method
Mobile Monkey for its lead generation
ChatterOn for its quick and simple deployment
Dialogflow for its Google Assistant integration
IBM Watson Assistant for its integration with multiple platforms
RASA for its comprehensive documentation
PandoraBots for its maximal flexibility
What makes a great chatbot builder?
To find the best chatbot builder, we investigated and thoroughly tested 25 chatbot builders to narrow down our list of recommendations to eight based on the following criteria:
They provide pre-built templates to streamline deployment. Not everyone that needs a chatbot is a seasoned developer. While some of our picks require technical know-how to use, we also include those that can be quickly deployed and get the job done with no coding experience required.
They integrate with systems you use. What good is a chatbot builder if the chatbot you build can’t be used on your desired platform? No single chatbot builder will be perfect for everyone. We considered chatbot builders that can be integrated on several (or the most popular) platforms, such as Slack, Messenger, Telegram, or your company's website.
They are flexible to help you achieve varied goals. Chatbots aren’t only used for marketing. They’re also indispensable assets to support teams and sales teams, are used for data collection and convenience, and can help meet almost any other requirement or request imaginable. We didn’t focus on one particular use but rather looked at many different features and functions to find the chatbot builders that stood out.
With all of these things in mind, we narrowed down our list to eight options. Here are the results.
Best chatbot builder for its simple setup
If you’re looking for an easy-to-use chatbot builder with a simple setup process that’s specifically designed for Facebook Messenger, Chatfuel is a great option. Chatfuel provides a large library of pre-made templates, found in the Chatfuel Dashboard. These templates are mostly general-purpose templates that any type of company can use, but they also provide several industry-specific templates, as well.
Another thing that makes Chatfuel stand out? You can have your chatbot up and running in about 30 minutes. The simplicity of this chatbot builder makes it usable by developers and non-developers alike.
Want to see how Chatfuel stacks up against ManyChat? Check out our Facebook Chatbot Showdown. Use Zapier to connect Chatfuel to the other apps you use every day.
Chatfuel price: Free plan available; paid plan from $15/month
Best chatbot builder for bot-to-human transfer
While Chatbots have certainly come a long way, they can’t be expected to always successfully handle what the customer is requesting. Botsify provides a feature called Human Handover and Takeover which, as the name suggests, hands the customer over to a real agent when the chatbot fails to help the customer. As chatbots mature, we may not always need this hybrid concept, but it certainly has a place in the world today.
Another feature worth taking a look at is their Chatbot for Education feature. With Chatbot for Education, Botsify transformed chatbots from a marketing tool to an educational tool by allowing students to chat with the chatbot on specific subjects such as math, coding, first aid, and more.
Use Zapier to connect Botsify to the other apps you use every day, and automate the connections between your chatbot and apps like your email marketing tool, CRM, team chat platform, or calendar.
Botsify price: Free plan available; paid plan from $50/month
Best chatbot builder for marketing
MobileMonkey is praised by millions, mainly for its lead generation features such as drip campaigns, list building, and chat blasts. It also collects leads and exports them into an Excel file from a stored list. Because of these features, it’s one of the most sought-after chatbot builders by marketers.
This chatbot builder is specifically designed for Facebook Messenger, but that’s not an issue since Facebook has grown to become one of the largest marketing platforms in the world. It’s also able to be used by anyone, meaning you don’t need any coding experience at all to get a chatbot up and running.
Use Zapier to connect MobileMonkey to the other apps you use every day, and do things like ensure contacts are on your email list, register contacts for webinars, and send Slack messages to your team when a new contact comes in.
MobileMonkey price: Free plan available; paid plan from $4/month
Best chatbot builder for instant production
ChatterOn stands out because it is the simplest and quickest chatbot builder on the market. You can, quite literally, have a chatbot up and running within five minutes. It achieves this by supplying you with over 20 pre-built chatbots. And even though it’s able to be deployed at lightning speed, ChatterOn didn’t hold back on its features.
ChatterOn can be used with Radbots, which monetizes your bot through contextual advertisements. You can also customize your chatbot communication beyond text by using videos, gifs, photos, and other popular media.
ChatterOn provides all of its features to users for free. That is, as long as users don’t exceed 15,000 messages per month. That’s still quite generous as many startups won’t be hitting that number for quite some time, ultimately providing them a free service until their business grows. Once you go over 15,000 messages, ChatterOn charges $0.0010 per message.
ChatterOn price: Free plan available; paid plan: $0.0010/message after 15,000 messages
Best chatbot builder for Google Assistant
Dialogflow is owned by Google, meaning it’s built off of Google’s mature technology. Why this is important can be summed up in one word—scalability. Dialogflow is hosted on Google’s Cloud Platform and, as a result, provides one of the most flexible platforms for scalability. This means that Dialogflow can be used with any sized business--from startups to large enterprises.
Dialogflow is a versatile software that, while optimized for Google Assistant, supports a large number of platforms, including Messenger, Slack, LINE, Telegram, and several others. Its ease-of-use is not to be understated, either. Most everything you need to accomplish can be done directly in the UI, making it a good choice for newbies or seasoned pros wanting to build voice and/or text-based bots..
If all of that weren’t enough, it supports over 30 languages, breaking the barrier for your potential customers.
Dialogflow price: Free plan available; complex pricing for paid plans
Best chatbot builder for multiple hardware and software integrations
IBM Watson Assistant (Web)
IBM Watson Assistant, a chatbot builder designed for app developers and hardware developers that want to connect their chatbot to Internet of Things devices, definitely earned its place on the board. What’s really cool about IBM Watson Assistant is its ability to integrate with nearly anything. In addition to the popular platforms such as Messenger and Slack, Watson Assistant can also integrate with mobile apps, cars, kitchens, bathrooms, and a slew of other connected objects.
IBM Watson Assistant, while not the easiest chatbot builder to use on the market, does come with a pretty easy-to-use user interface that lets non-developers get started without much of a learning curve. It also comes with a handy analytics tool so you can pay attention to important data trends.
IBM Watson Assistant has five different pricing plans. This covers a large range of companies looking to deploy a chatbot within their respective budget. They also provide a free version that lets you dip your toes in the water before jumping in.
IBM Watson Assistant price: Free plan available; paid plan from $0.0025/message
Best chatbot builder providing supportive community
RASA isn’t your simple plug-and-play chatbot builder, nor does it provide an out-of-the-box, single-click integration. What RASA does have is one of the most comprehensive documentation sets and online support community in the chatbot builder niche. This is important because RASA requires a lot of technical know-how to use.
RASA is an open-source application with code available on its Github repositories. Any bot deployed must be hosted locally on your own server, as RASA doesn’t provide hosting. Most seasoned developers love RASA due to the customization possibilities, allowing them to create completely unique AI-based text or voice assistants.
RASA provides a free Community Edition package, and an enterprise edition for companies looking for additional support and analytics.
RASA price: Free plan available; paid plans are priced ase-by-case
Best chatbot builder for creating human-like interaction
PandoraBots is one of the more mature chatbot builders in the game, which comes with being one of the oldest on the markets. PandoraBots is open-source, uses AIML (Artificial Intelligence Markup Language), and allows users to build basically anything they want. There is definitely a steeper learning curve with this chatbot builder compared to several others, and some programming knowledge is required, but the possibilities are literally endless.
We’re not saying this lightly. Mitsuka, the best chatbot in the world, was built using PandoraBots. Mitsuka has bested the Loebner Prize Turing Test five times now. It’s said that this chatbot is the best chatbot for having human-like conversations. We chatted with it a bit ourselves, and we agree. That said, this chatbot builder can be used to create anything.
You can deploy your chatbot on most popular messaging applications, as well as mobile apps and your own website. PandoraBots also uses a Priced to Scale model, letting you scale as your needs grow.
PandoraBots price: Free plan available; paid plan from $19/month