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How to create a custom AI chatbot with Zapier Chatbots

By Elena Alston · April 9, 2024

As a writer, I depend on my editors to give me feedback, help me grow as a writer, and ultimately craft first drafts into decent, publishable content. But even just pumping out that first draft takes time, research, and the occasional headache.

Fortunately, that job is made a lot easier with AI—and more specifically, Zapier Chatbots. With it, you can create AI-powered chatbots for a variety of use cases, from providing customer support to editorial assistants that can give polished feedback—without knowing any code.  

In this blog post, I'll walk you through exactly how to create your own chatbot that can use your data and resources to provide tailored responses—and offer a few ideas on specific use cases.

Table of contents

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Overview: How to create a chatbot

Here's the quick version of how to create a chatbot with Zapier, though we'll go into more detail down below. You'll need a Zapier account and an OpenAI account to get started. 

  • Head over to https://zapier.com/app/chatbots

  • Click +Create in the top-right corner of your screen

  • Give your chatbot a name and click +Create

  • Customize your chatbot's settings

  • Give your chatbot instructions, knowledge, and actions

  • Share your chatbot as a public link, embedded in your site, or within an interface.

Step 1: Set up your chatbot basics

Let's start off with creating a chatbot from scratch. Head over to your chatbot dashboard. On the top-right corner of your screen, click +Create. 

Screenshot of create a chatbot

Once you've done that, you'll be required to give your chatbot a name. In this case, I'm calling mine the Editor Bot, but obviously this will depend on your use case.

Screenshot of editor bot

Once you've named your bot, click +Create. This will set up an empty chatbot for you to edit.

Screenshot of chatbot set up

The panel on the left is where you can set up your chatbot's instructions. The panel on the right is what your bot will look like once it's ready.

Add a greeting

Under Greeting type, select Static or Generated. Static means the bot's greeting will always remain the same at the start of a conversation, whereas generated will change the chatbot's greeting every time it's opened.

Inside the Greeting text field, you can add text—this is what your chatbot will say when your users first interact with it.

Screenshot of static greeting filled out

Next, the User input placeholder field is the instructional copy that will show in the message box for the users so they know where—and what—to ask the bot. 

Screenshot of placeholder in chatbot

Set up your OpenAI authentication and model

Once you've done that, you can set up your OpenAI authentication. The chatbot uses GPT-3.5 by default through Zapier, but if you want to use GPT-4 and other models, you can add your own OpenAI authentication and connect to other models you have available in our OpenAI account through their API.

Select an OpenAI account from the dropdown menu.

A dropdown menu of OpenAI authentication options.

If you haven't connected an OpenAI account to Zapier before, click Manage authentications

An orange arrow pointing to the Manage authentications link.

You'll be taken to the OpenAI app on Zapier. Click Add connection, then connect your account. 

An orange box around the +Add connection purple button.

Once you've added your OpenAI account, you can select your OpenAI model. 

OpenAI GPT-4 has been selected in the Model field.

You can also adjust your creativity levels (default is 0.7). 

Screenshot of creativity levels

The creativity temperature helps adjust the output you're getting. For example, a lower temperature (below 0.7) will churn out more predictable and "generalistic" results than a higher setting. In turn, if you dial up the setting, you could get more creative and "human-sounding" results.  

Remember now to click Save changes

Note: You can also choose to display a disclosure message in your greeting. 

Adjust your advanced options

Under Advanced options, you can customize both the text that will be shown in your browser title and the subdomain of your bot. Here's what mine looks like: 

Screenshot of advanced options in chatbot

Once you've finished setting up your chatbot, click Save changes.

Step 2: Give your chatbot instructions and knowledge

Once you've set up your chatbot basics, it's time to add instructions. On the top-left corner of your screen, click the Instructions tab. 

Screenshot of instructions

Give your chatbot a directive

This is where you can adjust the chatbot's directive. It's the most important part of your chatbot, as this dictates what the chatbot does and how it responds to users. 

Screenshot of directive

Click the pop-out icon in the top-left corner to tweak your instructions. 

Screenshot of pop out directive

You'll see that the chatbot comes with a ready-made prompt that you can fill in and customize. 

Screenshot of directive

Because this is like the "prompt" you'd give ChatGPT as a user, it's important to remember that the more detailed and clear your instructions are, the better the chatbot will respond. 

For best results, you should specify the following information, which we've included inside the directive as inspiration:

  • The chatbot's role

  • Its objective

  • The rules and steps it should always follow

  • The audience who will engage with the chatbot

  • Any context it needs to properly answer

  • Any additional resources it should pull answers from

  • The style of how you want it to respond

  • Any other rules the chatbot needs to follow

For our editor bot, I've included additional directions on style, tone, grammar preferences, word count, and Zapier's blog voice. 

As you go, you can test the conversation in the right-hand panel to see how the chatbot engages. Tweak or add to the directive as needed to further customize the chatbot.

Here's my directive:

Screenshot of directive

Once you've finished customizing your directive, click Done to exit the pop-out window, and remember to click Save changes

Give your chatbot a knowledge source

One of the best things about using Zapier to build a chatbot is that you can use your own supplemental knowledge sources to limit your chatbot's answers to pre-approved or specific content. 

You can upload up to five personal or internal company files (or Zapier tables) to your chatbot so it only generates answers from that specific source or database.  It's a bit like feeding the AI your own knowledge to tailor its responses. 

For example, if you're building a customer support bot, you can tailor its responses with any approved FAQs you've uploaded. Or, you could build a bot that can answer employee questions about a company-specific event, like a webinar or a retreat. 

You can add a knowledge source within your Instructions tab beneath your directive box.

Screenshot of knowledge sources

To add a file or table, click File or Table

Screenshot of files and tables in chatbots

Next, click Browse files and upload your specific source. 

Screenshot of files

In my instance, I'll be uploading a copy of the Zapier blog and style guide so my bot understands the dynamics of writing for the blog—and can provide editorial feedback accordingly. Once you've uploaded your file, you can also include a description to help your chatbot know how to use that information. 

Screenshot of blog style guide

Tip: To make sure your AI chatbot can easily process the information within your uploaded file, try to keep related information together in paragraphs, rather than using bullet points.

Once you're done, click Add source

To add a table, click Table

Screenshot of tables

You'll be able to select an existing table you've created previously. 

Once it's finished uploading, you can then customize your AI bot's responses. For example, if someone asks the bot a question that doesn't appear in your data source, you can choose for the AI to either respond without that source or show a custom message. 

Screenshot of custom message

If you choose to show a custom message, you can edit the copy to say what you want, like so: 

Screenshot of knowledge sources custom message

If you choose to generate a response, the chatbot will respond only using the public data it already has available in the AI model.

Once you've finished customizing your chatbot's responses, click Save changes

Here's an example of how our bot responds now that it has a data source to pull answers from: 

Screenshot of chatbot message output

Step 3: Add actions to your chatbot

If you want to set up actions for your chatbot, you can do this in the Actions tab. 

Screenshot of actions in chatbot

Actions refer to the automatic workflows (Zaps) you can set up, adding a button to copy chatbot responses, and the ability to collect contact information from you chatbot users (like names and email addresses). 

Create a Zap

Because our chatbots connect to Zapier's ecosystem of 6,000+ apps, you can set up automatic workflows that trigger whenever your chatbot generates a response. 

For example, you could create a Zap that sends your chatbot's responses to a specific Slack channel. That way, your fellow team members can review a piece of copy your editor bot has suggested. Or, if you've created a bot to help you write social media posts, you could set up a Zap to send those posts straight to LinkedIn. 

To set up a Zap, click Zap button

Screenshot of Zap button

The event Every time a user gets a response will be pre-selected for you. (This is what determines when the action runs or becomes available to the user.)

Screenshot of show this action button

In the Button text field, add the button text the user will see once the chatbot has generated a response. 

Because my Zap will send the response to a Slack channel, I'll write: Send to Slack. You can also do the same for your notification text, so you or the chatbot user knows the message gets sent, like so: 

Screenshot of button text

Next, click Create action and Zap

Screenshot of Zap set up

You'll be taken to the Zap editor, where you can finish setting up your Zap. Your trigger step will be preselected for you, so all you have to do is add an action step that involves sending the response to Slack as a channel message. You can click on the + icon to add an action step, like so: 

Screenshot of Zap set up

Once you've published your Zap, you can navigate back to your chatbots page and to your Actions tab, where you can see your Zap set up: 

Screenshot of setting up button

Now, whenever your chatbot issues a response, a button will appear, like so: 

Screenshot of editor bot new button

Copy responses

Because my chatbot provides editorial feedback, I want to add a different action that lets me easily copy the chatbot's responses. 

This will be in the form of a copy button, which will come in handy if my editorial bot has provided a revised version of my copy, and I want to copy and paste it into a Google Doc, for example. 

To set this up, click Add action inside your Actions tab. 

Screenshot of add action button

Next, click Copy response. 

Screenshot of copy response button

You can follow the same instructions for setting up your Zap. You can either keep or change the button text and notification text for your copy response button: 

Screenshot of textual buttons

Once you've finished customizing your button text, remember to click Create action. You'll see your new action listed underneath your Zap, like so: 

Screenshot of actions

Now, whenever your chatbot generates a response, you'll be able to copy it directly and add it to your Google Doc or wherever else you like: 

Screenshot of copy button

Collect lead information

If you're building a chatbot to help support your customers or manage your leads, adding the ability to collect contact information is a no-brainer. Not only does it give your chatbot a personalized touch, but it's an easy way to follow up with leads who engage with your chatbot. 

To add this action, click +Add action in your Actions tab, like we outlined above. Select Collect info

Screenshot of collect info button

You'll see that you can add this action at the beginning of every conversation. 

Screenshot of collect info tab

Next, select the fields to capture within the conversation. Options include Name, Email, and Company:

Screenshot of information details

Once you click Save changes, Zapier will automatically create a new table for you (and link it to your chatbot) so you can access it later. 

Screenshot of tables link

To view your table, just click the link and it will open for you. You'll see the contact fields automatically added: 

Screenshot of table

This is how your chatbot will collect that information: 

Screenshot of editor bot questions

Step 4: Adjust your chatbot's style 

Now it's time to adjust your chatbot's style. You can change your chatbot's appearance by clicking on the Style tab. 

Screenshot of style

This allows you to adjust the color on your page background, your button and chatbot message background, the disclosure message text, and the user message background. 

For example, you might want to change this so that it fits in with your company's brand colors. 

Step 5: Test and share your chatbot

Next, it's time to test your chatbot to make sure everything is running smoothly. You can do this directly in the builder on the right-hand side of the page, or you can click the public link in the top-right corner of your chatbot's setup page: 

Screenshot of chatbot URL

That will take you to the full chatbot experience. For my editor chatbot, I added a blog topic and asked for specific editorial guidance.

Screenshot of chatbot's output

The chatbot uses the knowledge source I added, sticks to the specific instructions I gave it, and provides clear instructions. 

You should also double-check that any Zaps you set up are working properly by clicking on the appropriate buttons. For example, when I clicked Send to Slack for review, the chatbot's response was immediately sent to the Slack channel I directed: 

Screenshot of editor bot slack zap

If everything's working correctly, you can now share your chatbot with your team. To do this, you can just send them the public URL to your chatbot that appears in the top-right corner of your chatbot's setup page.

If you want to adjust who can access your chatbot, click Share in the top-right corner of your screen: 

Screenshot of share button

You can provide access to anyone with the link or disable the public URL: 

Screenshot of editor bot access

Step 6: Embed your chatbot and view user conversations

To embed your chatbot in your site, click Embed next to the Share button. 

Screenshot of embed button

You'll have two options. You can choose the Standard option, which lets you embed your chatbot directly into a web page, or the Pop up option, which lets you overlay the chatbot and fix it to the bottom-right of a webpage.

Screenshot of standard bot embed button

In this instance, I'll select Standard.  

Next, you can copy either a script link or iframe. To embed this directly into your site, click Copy embed

Screenshot of copy embed button

Next, you can add that embed link into your site. In my case, I'll be adding an editorial bot into my WordPress site with the code I've copied.

Screenshot of embed script

The end result will look something like this: 

Screenshot of editorial bot embedded

And, once folks start using your chatbot, you'll be able to see the full conversation history your users are having in your Zapier account. 

This is especially useful if you're building a support or lead chatbot, as you can learn about customers, spot trends, and refer back to conversations. 

To see your chatbot's conversation log, click the Conversations tab in your chatbot page. 

Screenshot of access

Step 7: Build a landing page for your chatbots 

Once you've built a few chatbots, you should think about presenting them together in a nice layout for users or coworkers to browse. A great way to do this is by using Zapier Interfaces to build a landing page. Zapier Interfaces gives you the ability to create custom web pages and apps that let you pull in your chatbots via link cards. 

For example, here's a quick library I built so folks could easily access my different bots: 

A landing page with a set of different content team chatbots.

To set this up yourself, head over to the Interfaces dashboard and click +Create

Next, click Start from scratch. From there, scroll down and select Link cards

An orange box around the option to add Link cards to a landing page in Zapier Interfaces.

This will set up your page in Interfaces. 

A dashboard for a Zapier Interface with details for a link card.

Now it's time to customize your page. 

Add a name for your page inside the Header field. In this instance, I'm calling mine "AI for the content team" so my whole team can use any bot. 

A link card named "AI for the content team".

You can also adjust the width and alignment of your header in this section. 

To add new tiles (or link cards) to your landing page, click Add link in the right-hand corner. Do this as many times as you need. 

An orange box around the + Add Link button.

Next, it's time to customize your link cards with copy, chatbot URLs, and emoji. Click on the tile you want to customize. 

Fields to add details to a link card, like the title and description.

A right-hand side panel will appear. It's here you can customize each specific tile. Give your bot a title, a description, and the copy for your CTA. 

Once you've done that, scroll down to add your chatbot's URL in the Link URL field. 

You can also add an emoji and decide whether or not to open the link in a new tab whenever someone clicks on the CTA. Once you've finished customizing these steps, click Done

You'll be brought back to the library layout, where you can keep customizing the tiles for all the bots you've created by repeating the above steps. 

Once you're done, you can preview your new landing page by clicking on the link in the top-left corner of the page: 

An orange box around a URL at the top of the page.

Finally, if you want to share the landing page with the rest of your team, you can click Share in the top-right corner of your page. 

An orange box around the Share button.

You can add collaborators, set up public access, and generate a code snippet to embed your page elsewhere. 

An orange box around the Collaborate, Link, and Embed tabs.

Chatbot inspiration

Not sure how you'd use a chatbot? At Zapier, different teams have already created a ton of bots for different purposes. Here's a bit of inspiration to get you started: 


If you work in PR, you could create a bot that helps you generate a press release, for example. Or, you could set up a sentiment analyzer that can indicate the tone of a press article in seconds:

Screenshot of PR chatbots


The editorial team at Zapier created a bunch of bots to help writers improve specific areas of their writing: 

Screenshot of editor bots

Team communication

Struggle to put positive feedback—or difficult conversations—into words? You could create a series of bots that help you and your team formulate professional feedback:

Screenshot of feedback bots

Social media

From social promotions to finding the right influencers for a campaign, you can create social media bots that take the hassle right out of the hussle: 

Screenshot of social media bots


Have clients or coworkers who tend to speak a lot of corporate jargon? Creating a simple chatbot that can translate lingo can clear up any ambiguity. 

Screenshot of corporate jargon bot

You could also create bots that help you with legalese, cultural context, or specific buzzwords. These are just a few examples of what you could create, though. 

Here's another example of some "personality" bots that can help you with anything from birthday present ideas to work renovation projects: 

Screenshot of different bots

The possibilities are truly endless!

Screenshot of work renovation bot

Use a pre-built template

You can also use a pre-built chatbot template to get started with your custom chatbot:

Bring the power of chatbots to your team

While we're still in the early days of using AI at work, these kinds of chatbots can be a powerful tool to help you improve everything from team communication to career growth. 

With Zapier, you can create your own custom chatbot in a matter of minutes, helping you streamline the way you work. Have an idea for a chatbot that could benefit your team? Get experimenting!

This article was originally published in April 2023. It was most recently updated in April 2024.

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A Zap with the trigger 'When I get a new lead from Facebook,' and the action 'Notify my team in Slack'