Chatbots are used by 1.4 billion people today. Companies are launching their best AI chatbots to carry on 1:1 conversations with customers and employees. AI powered chatbots are also capable of automating various tasks, including sales and marketing, customer service, and administrative and operational tasks.
As the demand for chatbots has skyrocketed, the marketplace of companies that provide chatbot technology has become harder to navigate as competition increases with many companies promising to do the same thing. However, not all AI chatbots are the same. To help companies of all sizes find the best of the best, we’ve rounded up the best 11 AI chatbots for specific business use cases. We’ll also cover the 5 best chatbot examples in the real world, but more on that later.
What is an AI chatbot?
Before we jump into the 11 best AI chatbots, it’s important to differentiate between AI chatbots and rules-based bots. The first-generation bots that many companies adopted were very rigid and provided poor user experiences. Rules-based chatbots are limited to very basic scenarios. On the other hand, AI-powered chatbots provide a more human-like experience, are capable of carrying on natural conversation, and continuously improve over time.
Basic chatbot technology moves the conversation forward via bot-prompted keywords or UX features like Facebook Messenger’s suggested responses. AI-powered chatbots use natural language processing and leverage semantics to understand the context of what a person is saying.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the best AI chatbots for 2021 and beyond.
The 11 Best AI Chatbots for Business
- Best AI Chatbot for Customer Service: Netomi
What makes Netomi one of the best AI chatbots of 2021?
Netomi’s AI customer experience platform helps companies automatically resolve customer service tickets on email, chat, messaging and voice. It has the highest accuracy of any customer service chatbot due to it’s advanced Natural Language Understanding (NLU) engine and can automatically resolve over 70% of customer queries without human intervention. Netomi’s AI is incredibly easy to adopt and has out-of-the-box integrations with all of the leading agent desk platforms. The company works with companies across a variety of industries, including WestJet, Brex, Zinus, Singtel, Circles Life, WB Games and HP.
- Natural Language Understanding for human-like conversation
- Reinforcement learning and ongoing optimization
- Sentiment analysis for contextual next best action
- Back-end systems integrations (CRM, OMS, etc.) for meaningful and personalized resolutions
- Human escalation via agent desk integration (Zendesk, Freshworks, Salesforce, Khoros, Zoho, Sprinklr, Shopify)
- Knowledge-base integration
- Omni-channel (email, chat, voice, social)
- Analytics and real-time reporting
- Dedicated customer success team
Best AI Chatbot for IT, HR and Business Ops: atSpoke
What makes atSpoke one of the best AI chatbots of 2021?
atSpoke makes it easy for employees to get the knowledge they need. It’s an internal ticketing system that has built-in AI. It allows internal teams (IT help desk, HR and other business operations teams) to enjoy 5x faster resolutions by immediately answering 40% of requests automatically. The AI responds to a range of employee questions by surfacing knowledge base content. Employees can get updates directly within the channels they are using every day, including Slack, Google Drive, Confluence and Microsoft Teams.
- Multi-channel (chat, email, SMS)
- Alerts / Escalation
- Automated Routing
- Knowledge Base Management
- Workflow Configuration
Best AI Chatbot for WordPress: WP-Chatbot
What makes WP-Chatbot one of the best AI chatbots of 2021?
WP-Chatbot is the most popular chatbot in the WordPress ecosystem, giving tens of thousands of websites live chat and Web chat capabilities. WP-Chatbot integrates with a Facebook Business page and powers live and automated interactions on a WordPress site via a native Messenger chat widget. There’s an easy one-click installation process and is one of the fastest ways to add live chat to a WordPress site. Users have a single inbox for all messages – whether taking place on Messenger or on webchat – which provides a really efficient way to manage cross-platform customer interactions.
- One-click-install for WordPress
- Custom greeting
- Facebook page branding
- Single inbox for all incoming messages
- Integration with your Facebook Business Page
- Compatible with all versions of WordPress
Best Open Source AI Chatbot: Microsoft Bot Framework
What makes Microsoft Bot Framework one of the best AI chatbots of 2021?
The Microsoft Bot Framework is a comprehensive framework for building conversational AI experiences. The Bot Framework Composer is an open-source, visual authoring canvas for developers and multi-disciplinary teams to design and build conversational experiences with Language Understanding, QnA Maker and bot replies. The Microsoft Bot Framework allows users to use a comprehensive open-source SDK and tools to connect a bot to popular channels and devices easily.
- AI and natural language
- Open source SDK and tools to build, test, and connect bots to popular channels and devices
- integrate with existing IT ecosystem
- Omnichannel (website or apps, Microsoft Teams, Skype, Slack, Cortana, and Facebook Messenger)
- Speech capabilities
Best Agent Desk AI Chatbot: Zendesk Answer Bot
What makes Zendesk Answer Bot one of the best AI chatbots of 2021?
Zendesk Answer Bot works alongside your support team within Zendesk to answer incoming customer questions right away. The Answer Bot pulls relevant articles from your Zendesk Knowledge Base to provide customers with the information they need without delay. You can deploy additional technology on top of your Zendesk chatbot or you can let the Zendesk Answer Bot fly solo on your website chat, within mobile apps, or for internal teams on Slack.
- Multi-channel (email, Web forms, chat, in-app)
- Integrates with Zendesk Guide knowledge base
- Integrates within Zendesk agent desk platform for seamless human hand-off
- Deep learning
Interested in learning more about Zendesk for customer service? Check out any of these helpful blog posts from our team:
- Getting Started with Netomi on Zendesk
- Zendesk customers now have access to the Netomi Virtual Agent
- 5 Ways Customer Service Managers Can Create a Better Experience With AI
Best AI Chatbot To Be Your Personal Assistant: x.ai
What makes x.ai one of the best AI chatbots of 2021?
Are you looking for ways to increase productivity and reduce time doing administrative tasks? x.ai is the best personal assistant chatbot that can schedule meetings and follow up to confirm times with attendees. Once you have an account, it’s as simple as CC x.ai on an email, that connects to your calendar and will coordinate with guests to find a time that works.
- Meeting Scheduler
- Meeting Tracker
- Google Calendar Integration
- Outlook.com Calendar Integration
- Office 365 Calendar Integration
- User Access Control
- Analytics & Reporting
Best AI Chatbot for Voice: Alexa for Business
What makes Alexa for Business one of the best AI chatbots of 2021?
Do you want to interact with the 83.1 million people who own a smart speaker? Amazon, which has captured 70% of this market, has the best AI chatbot for voice assistants. With Alexa for Business, IT teams can create custom skills that can answer customer questions. The creation of custom skills is a trend that has exploded: Amazon grew from 130 skills to over 100,000 skills as of September 2019 in just over three years. Creating custom skills on Alexa allows your customers to ask questions, order or re-order products or services, or engage with other content spontaneously by simply speaking out loud. With Alexa for Business, teams can integrate with Salesforce, ServiceNow, or any other custom apps and services.
- Self-service APIs to help you create, manage, test and publish custom skills
- Request APIs receive intents and directives from Alexa in your application logic
- Respond to customers using text-to-speech, images, and streamed audio and video
- Transactions and closed-loop commerce
- SDKs for Node.js, Python and Java
Best AI Chatbot for Sales: Drift
What makes Drift one of the best AI chatbots of 2021?
Drift B2B chatbots are implemented on websites to qualify leads without forms. Drift chatbots ask qualification questions and create leads in your CRM (Salesforce, HubSpot and Marketo). Once a lead is qualified, the chatbot can automatically book meetings for sales teams by connecting to calendars to pull availability. Drift also allows companies to identify the highest-valued and intelligently send personalized welcome messages to VIPs. If other questions arise during the conversation, Drift can integrate with knowledge base tools like Zendesk, Help Scout, HelpDocs and others to surface relevant information.
- A chat widget for mobile and desktop
- Routing that directs leads and conversations to the correct person, group or team
- an API for building apps, customizing the chat widget or integrating with your platform
- Out-of-the-box integrations, including: Slack, Office 365 Calendar, Salesforce and Market
Best AI Chatbot for User or Market Research: SurveySparrow
What makes SurveySparrow one of the best AI chatbots of 2021?
SurveySparrow is a software platform for conversational surveys and forms. The platform bundles Customer Experience surveys (i.e., Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) or Customer Effort Score (CES) and Employee Experience surveys (i.e., Recruitment & Pre-hire, Employee 360 Assessment, Employee Check-in and Employee Exit Interviews) tools. The conversational UI deploys surveys in a chat-like experience, which increases survey completion rates by 40%. SurveySparrow comes with a range of out-of-the-box question types and templates. Surveys are embedded on websites or other software tools through integrations with Zapier, Slack, Intercom and Mailchimp.
- Customized conversational surveys
- Subaccounts and multiple users
- Multi-language surveys
- Smart surveys using conditional logic branching
- White label surveys
- Visual workflows
- Omni-channel (email, social media, web links, embedded options, scannable QR code and email)
- Reports and analytics
Best Build-Your-Own AI Chatbot for Messenger: ManyChat
What makes ManyChat one of the best AI chatbots of 2021?
Next year, 2.4B people will use Facebook Messenger. If you’re looking for a quick way to launch a simple chatbot to sell products, book appointments, send order updates or share coupons on Facebook Messenger, ManyChat is a great option. It has industry-specific templates, or you can build your own with a drag-and-drop interface, which allows you to launch a bot within minutes without coding. You can easily connect to eCommerce tools, including Shopify, PayPal, Stripe, ActiveCampaign, Google Sheets, and 1,500+ additional apps through Zapier and Integromat.
- Basic reporting and analytics
- Drag-and-drop interface to build bot
- Integrations with Shopify, Google Sheets, MailChimp, HubSpot, ConvertKit, and Zapier
- No coding required
- Easy set up in minutes
Best AI Companion and Friend Chatbot: Replika
What makes Replika one of the best AI chatbots of 2021?
While this is not a business use case, it still warrants placement on this list for its coolness. Replika is an AI chatbot designed to become a “friend” who offers “no judgment, drama, or social anxiety.” It claims that users can “form an actual emotional connection, share a laugh or get real with an AI that’s so good it almost seems human.” Users can choose their 3D avatar and customize it, help it learn about the world, and develop its personality. You can decide if you want it to be a friend, virtual significant other or mentor.
- Learns to imitate users
- Messaging and voice recognition
- iOS and Android apps
- Customizable avatar
Frequently Asked Questions About AI Chatbots
How Do AI Chatbots Work?
AI chatbots use Natural Language Processing (NLP) engines and machine learning to interpret user inputs. This involves extracting user entities and determining user intents. These NLP methods are used widely in the technology industry, including for machine translation, sentiment analysis, and user behavior analytics (UBA) in cybersecurity.
What Makes an AI Chatbot Powerful?
What separates a bad chatbot from the best chatbots is a bot’s ability to leverage four different categories of artificial intelligence. The best AI chatbots are extremely sophisticated in these 4 AI attributes:
- Intent recognition—intent recognition involves a semantic understanding of text-based and AI chatbots that leverage general syntactical and semantic knowledge which they learn from a large corpus of language data and business-specific training samples. Knowledge learned by AI chatbots from large data corpora helps for the expansion and transfer of vocabulary which helps to improve interpretations with fewer business-specific training samples.
- Extraction of entities—information that relates to a specific object or concept. For example, dates, places, times, descriptions, names, items, or numbers. These bits of data are the building blocks from which inputs are interpreted and defined.
- Dialogue management—Based on intent and entities, AI Chatbots use the next best action to trigger various actions required to capture appropriate details from users and business systems for meaningful resolution. AI chatbots learn user preferences in their long and short-term memory to take contextually relevant smart actions.
- Expansion and transfer of vocabulary—algorithms can capture and refine vocabulary, including synonyms to improve interpretations. These refinements are tied to subsets of users to generate more natural responses and be passed to new bots.
The strongest chatbot platforms (listed earlier) allow for easy scalability and low manual effort. Now you know what makes the best AI chatbots so powerful.
The 5 Best AI Chatbot Examples in Real Life
As chatbots get smarter, the adoption rate by big brands and industry leaders grows exponentially. Now that we’ve taken a look at which companies make the best AI chatbot technology and how to define what makes one chatbot better than another, let’s explore real-life examples of companies that put those chatbots to work. Below are five of the most successful chatbot implementations and their results:
- Best AI Chatbot Overall: WestJet’s Chatbot
- Best AI Chatbot for Telecom: Charter Spectrum’s Chatbot
- Best AI Chatbot for Ecommerce: Covergirl’s Chatbot
- Best AI Chatbot for Travel: Amtrak’s Chatbot
- Best AI Chatbot for Customer Experience: Johnson and Johnson’s Chatbot
WestJet, the only 3-peat winner of TripAdvisor’s Best Airline in Canada, has incorporated a chatbot named Juliet, to help serve its millions of monthly website visitors. With its chatbot “Juliet”, users can book travel plans, ask questions and get resolutions to common customer service questions.
When WestJet’s bot first got started, it could automatically resolve about 30% of all customer service tickets. In less than two years, that number has jumped to over 87%. Not only is this the highest rate of automated ticket resolution ever recorded – making WestJet’s Juliet the most powerful chatbot in the world – it also speaks to the sophistication of how true artificial intelligence can learn and get better over time. As a result, the WestJet customer service agents are able to work side-by-side with the AI bot and handle over 5X the normal load of customer support.
Charter Spectrum, a top cable and phone service provider in the U.S. has incorporated a chatbot into its customer service operations. Before launching its bot, Charter’s customer support agents were answering around 200k live chats per month, a large portion of these for common use cases including forgotten passwords or usernames.
After bringing the “Ask Spectrum” chatbot into its customer support team, Charter Spectrum was able to handle 83% of chat tickets without human intervention. This significantly lightened their customer service load and resulted in a 300% increase in ROI.
Covergirl, a popular makeup brand, has taken a different approach. They are leveraging chatbots to engage with teens by providing product information and disseminating coupons. The Covergirl bot was designed to help the brand address the role that social media influencers play in young customer’s lives. Customers can interact with the bot to get product information and coupons for items.
As a result of their ecommerce chabot, Covergirl has seen social media engagement increase by a factor of 14. They have also experienced 91% positive sentiment ratings and a 51% click-through on coupons.
Amtrak, a nationwide rail provider in the United States, launched a travel chatbot to provide support to its 375k daily website visitors. With the Amtrak chatbot, users can book travel, ask common questions, and seek assistance modeled on the company’s best customer service representatives.
Currently, Amtrak’s bot is responding to around 5 million requests per year. This has led to a 25% increase in bookings and a 30% increase in revenue. Overall this has meant an 800% increase in ROI.
Johnson and Johnson owns a pregnancy and childcare resource called The BabyCentre UK. The company introduced a bot on Facebook Messenger to provide information and content to new or expecting moms. The bot uses targeting and personalization to deliver relevant information and to answer popular queries from users.
As a result of the bot, BabyCentre saw an 84% engagement rate and a 53% click-through rate. This represented a 1,428% increase over email communications despite using the same personalization methods.
The Best AI Chatbots can unlock incredible efficiency, but you need to select the right AI partner. The breadth of AI chatbots available today is incredible. The best business-specific AI chatbots are focused on a core use case – whether it’s customer service, surveys, administrative tasks or sales. With 53% of organizations expecting to use chatbots within 18 months, it’s crucial that teams adopt the right technology that prioritizes the end-user experience, exceeds goals, is easy to adopt and works seamlessly with other business systems. As an increasing number of companies claim to have sophisticated AI platforms, not all AI chatbots are created equal.
Want your AI chatbot solution to be considered for this list? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us why!