First, is your budget lower than 500$?
If you are an SMB or a start-up, or you just want to build a quick prototype – basic chatbot building platforms are the right choice for you.
Many platforms like Drift, Chatfuel, Manychat, Tidio, etc., enable you to create chatbots for a few dollars/month or even for free. These platforms are great if you don’t have a budget or want to build a prototype to validate or present the chatbot idea to your management.
If you are looking for a more advanced chatbot solution with different integrations, languages, and features, consider working with the chatbot development company. This will cost you more, but the solution will be more advanced and tailored to all your needs.
Have a look at our recent guide that will help you understand the chatbot development process and how to choose the best chatbot vendor: Chatbot Development: The Complete Guide for Business in 2021
So let’s talk about what factors influence the final chatbot pricing.
1. Do you want to have discovery, POC, and MVP phases?
The discovery phase – is the first phase of product development. It includes the analysis to determine how your business idea will transform into a future software solution. The goal of this stage is to make the product viable.
In terms of money, the discovery phase can cost you around $5,000 – $20,000.
POC (Proof of Concept) – an early model that does not have all the final product’s functionality. It’s good to create POC when you need to pitch the chatbot idea to your client or managers. Also, it’s great if you want to validate some critical elements like chatbot design and functions.
A POC can add from $10,000 to $30,000 to your chatbot pricing.
MVP (Minimum Viable Product) – a product with basic features. It’s like a beta or light version of the final solution. Usually, MVP is used to gather initial feedback from a small group of end-users. It is easier and cheaper to modify the product at this stage than when fully developed.
An MVP prices vary from $15,000 – $100,000
For our clients, we usually advise starting with the discovery phase and POC or MVP.
Well, to prove that their idea is going to be as successful as planned. This way, the client spends a smaller amount of money compared to the entire chatbot development process but can validate his idea and have a working MVP at the end.
If the discovery and MVP phase show that a chatbot was a success and nothing needs to be changed or tuned, we can scale this MVP to a full chatbot. If we see room for improvement, we analyze and make changes based on that.
Yes, the discovery phase can add a little bit to your final chatbot cheque, but it can save you much more money and time in the future.
2. What type of bot do you want?
There are a few types of chatbots. But the main types we are talking about now are simple button-based chatbot or advanced AI-powered chatbot.
The difference between them is that button-based chatbots are much simpler. The user communicates with this bot by clicking on the buttons in the chat. This bot doesn’t understand natural language and gives answers only based on buttons that a user clicks. It has a pre-defined flow, and the users go by a pre-determined journey.
The AI-powered chatbots are more intelligent. They understand the natural human language, and they can learn as more and more users communicate with it.
AI-powered chatbots use NLP (natural language processing) to understand the human language. They can “remember” some user preferences or perform actions that are a little bit more complex.
For example, our AI-powered legal chatbot provides information on legal topics using plain language and generates legal documents like wills and real estate docs.
So, naturally, the button-based bot would cost less. Usually, simple button-based chatbots cost 2-3 times less than AI-powered chatbots with NLP. So, if we say that an AI-powered chatbot with NLP abilities would cost in a range between $10,000- 150,000, the button-based bot would cost from $5,000-75,000.
Again, this is a rough estimate, as different companies have different pricing and the type of the bot is just a small part of the price tag.
3. Platform + custom development? Or only one of those?
This question is also very important.
Using simpler builders that we mentioned earlier, you don’t need developers. These builders usually work in drag ‘n’ drop mode and allow to build simple bots without coding.
Building a more complex solution, you need custom development. But, you also need to think about how you are going to maintain the chatbot.
Do you have your IT department inside the company that can help you train and update the chatbot? Do you want your chatbot vendors to update the chatbot? Or maybe you want a chatbot platform that will allow you to make changes yourself?
For our clients, we advise sticking to the custom development + platform approach. We created a chatbot platform that allows our clients to make small changes instantly on the go. With a few clicks, clients can train the chatbot, change the wordings, access analytics, etc.
So, this approach is more flexible. You don’t need to contact the chatbot company every time you want to make small changes, but it will cost additional money.
Our platform’s monthly subscription starts from $600/month and more, depending on your needs. However, investing in the platform allows you to save future money when you need to make some changes or improvements to the bot.
4. How many integrations?
You need to consider the integrations that you want for your chatbot.
For example, payment systems, maps, scheduling, CRM, etc.
The formula here is quite simple: the more integrations you need – the more the chatbot will cost for you.
Estimated prices for integrations can vary from $1,000 to $10,000 per integration. The price depends on the complexity of logic that needs to be built to integrate this tool or system with the chatbot.
5. Choose languages for your chatbot
The pricing here is similar to integrations.
The more languages you need, the more you’ll have to pay.
Some platforms have many languages supported from the start, so it will cost you less to add additional languages to the bot. However, there are platforms and companies that don’t have built-in support for all languages.
For platforms that already have these languages, prices can start from $1,000/language and more.
6. What messaging channels do you want to cover?
Most of the messaging channels are free to use.
However, with WhatsApp and SMS, there are a few nuances.
If you consider a WhatsApp chatbot, you need to know that WhatsApp has to approve your business to access their API. You can apply for this API yourself, ask your chatbot company or find a third-party vendor.
If you are applying yourself – this won’t cost you anything but will take a lot of time, and you’ll have to wait longer for the approval. If you decide to apply for the WhatsApp API through your chatbot company or third-party vendor, you will probably need to pay additional money. However, the chances of getting approval faster with the company are much bigger.
Also, for both SMS and WhatsApp Messages, you have to pay. This is not included in the chatbot pricing, but keep this in mind because you’ll have to pay for these messages when users start to use your chatbot.
7. Do you want any team training or workshops?
Some companies like us provide additional training and workshops for your team to teach them how to use the chatbot. We provide this training for free after we created the chatbot. However, keep in mind that some companies might include training costs in the chatbot pricing.
As mentioned before, chatbot pricing varies on your needs and goals.
For a simpler bot without NLP and many additional integrations and languages, you can expect to pay from $10,000 to 75,000.
For a more advanced solution, it can be from $50,000-150,000 or even more if you need a lot of integrations, languages, NLP, and training for your team.