The Best Chatbots, Compared.
The Chabot Industry: Then and Now
Chatbots have been a part of the technology conversation for over half a century. The first-ever chatbot, ELIZA, was developed by Joseph Weizenbaum in 1966. ELIZA employed pattern matching and substitution methodology to respond to text input from humans.
The chatbot industry has flourished since the early days of ELIZA. Chatbots have improved drastically thanks to advancements in Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Once considered a nice-to-have, chatbots have become an essential part of business, specifically customer service operations.
In fact, overall consumer chatbot usage has doubled since 2020.
Additionally, Insider Intelligence predicts that consumer retail spend via chatbots worldwide will reach $142 billion in 2024—up from just $2.8 billion in 2019.
An increase in chatbot usage is to be expected as customer service preferences change, online activity increases, and better technology hits the market.
Top Chatbot Providers
In this article, we’ll take a close look at the solutions, performance, and reviews of the top five chatbot providers in the market today:
What are the most important chatbot features?
The most important chatbot features depend on your company’s business goals. In general, regardless of your company’s industry, the most important chatbot features are:
- Hybrid human-bot technology
- Chatbot intent detection
- Integrations with an existing technology stack
- Customization and personalization
- Performance dashboard with real-time customer data
- A centralized platform that captures data from multiple channels
- Agent-assist features
- Ease of use
- Omnichannel support
What makes the best chatbot provider?
At a high level, the best chatbot providers understand the human-bot connection, employ a team of data scientists, and prioritize customer experience, satisfaction, and effort. Gartner estimates that globally there are over 2,000 natural language technology (NLT) providers, with a significant number of those providers offering conversational artificial intelligence platform (CAIP) capabilities.
Automation is becoming a key asset in business. However, many existing chatbot solutions are falling short of helping companies keep costs down and customer satisfaction up. Here are the ways that the best chatbot providers stand out:
- The best chatbot providers understand the human-bot connection
The ideal balance between humans and technology is not static over time. As artificial intelligence improves, chatbots will become increasingly capable of handling more and more complex conversations. But they need humans in order to accomplish this.
Only with human support can a chatbot reach its full potential and successfully acquire skills such as:
- Reading customer intent
- Understanding context understanding
- Approximating empathy and mirroring human emotions.
When you consider that just 10% of a typical company’s consumer inquiry volume can be handled by a bot today, the hybrid chatbot staffing model might look something like this:
- The best chatbot providers have data scientists on staff
Robust data science and machine learning programs produce exceptional chatbots. Having a data science team dedicated to chatbot intent detection (i.e. the ability of the chatbot to determine the intention/tone behind a customer’s question) shows a company’s commitment to continuous chatbot improvement. Some chatbot providers only offer keyword detection, which limits the bot’s ability to respond correctly.
Poor intent detection (or no intent detection at all) leads to ineffective routing and unnecessary escalations. This, of course, comes at a higher cost for the customer.
- The best chatbot providers prioritize customer satisfaction and effort
Great customer experience technology starts with a thorough understanding of customer satisfaction and effort. Chatbots that do not align with consumer expectations put a company at risk of poor reviews and lost revenue. Chatbot vendors with a customer-first perspective offer:
- Insight reporting dashboards
- Exceptional customer support to their own clients
- High self-service rates (reflects a better understanding of what topics are important to customers)
- Ease of use and low Customer Effort Scores for their chatbots
Let’s take a look at the top chatbot vendors to help you make an informed decision for your business.
Ada – Solutions
Ada is one of the largest customer service chatbot providers, offering solutions across the customer journey and with customers in many different verticals. They facilitate what they call “automated brand interactions.” They offer three key products:
- ADA CX (Engage + Support)
- ADA Engage (focused on driving conversions)
- ADA Support (focused on CX support)
The platform is known for its strong conversational design that includes routing to humans, customization, and personalization. Ada’s customers liked the usability of its platform for building out basic question-answering chatbots, including Ada’s no-code tools and its prepackaged skills for the industries it supports.
Solvvy – Solutions
Solvvy is a conversational AI tool for customer support that is primarily focused on the ecommerce and SaaS spaces. It claims to “deliver fast, effective resolutions, improve agent productivity, and uncover valuable insights that empower your support team.”
They offer two primary products:
- Solvvy for Support (CX support chatbot)
- Solvvy for Shoppers (Pre-sales chatbot)
Solvvy’s customers like the ease of use and high self-service rates.
Simplr – Solutions
Simplr offers a disruptive alternative to the traditional contact centers and Business Process Outsourcers (BPOs). It helps ecommerce, restaurant, and SaaS brands scale quality customer support through the following solutions:
- Human Cloud Network (on-demand network of work-from-home contractors)
- Simplr Chatbot (AI chatbot with human backup)
- Insights Dashboard (all customer insights in one place for continuous improvement)
Simplr integrates with a company’s existing ticketing system and/or ecommerce platform. Solutions can also be customized.
Thankful – Solutions
Thankful provides AI software intended to make CX teams more efficient. It is focused primarily on the ecommerce and SaaS industries.
Thankful offers three key products that support email, SMS, and chat:
- AI Agent (customer service/sales chatbot)
- Agent Assist (intelligent routing, sentiment detection for agents)
- Insight (real-time customer data dashboard)
Chatbot Solutions Comparison
How do the top five vendors compare when it comes to their chatbot offerings?
Ada – Chatbot
Ada is a no-code, drag-and-drop chatbot builder that’s focused on fully automated customer experiences, use cases that require the collection of personal information within chat, and then providing replies based on customer orders, accounts, bookings, passwords, etc.
They offer proactive chat and bots for Facebook Messenger, WeChat, and WhatsApp. Personalized content is available in 100+ languages, and analysts note that Ada’s chatbot offers better conversational design than other vendors.
That said, Ada’s chatbot lacks chat history, which is a deal-breaker for many potential customers. It also does not offer intelligent intent detection, which can result in the dreaded (not to mention extremely frustrating!) loop of “please state your inquiry in another way.”
Solvvy – Chatbot
With advanced Artificial Intelligence and Natural Language Processing (NLP) at its core, the Solvvy chatbot provides intelligent, high-quality, 24/7 self-service to customers.
Unlike traditional chatbots, Solvvy delivers personalized, on-brand experiences for your customers across multiple channels. Solvvy is one of the few chatbot providers currently using AI for topic extractions, leveraging ML to assign tags and intents to large datasets.
Although Solvvy can route out-of-scope inquiries to a customer service agent, it’s important to note that Solvvy does not take the agents’ performance metrics into account. Rather, routing is based solely on availability versus a particular agent’s strengths or past performance.
The Solvvy chatbot also has a difficult time remembering conversational history during escalations, which is a downside. And while Solvvy prides itself on top-notch intent detection, in reality, it has a difficult time navigating conversations that involve multiple questions or sentiments.
Simplr – Chatbot
Simplr’s chatbot is the only solution on the market that offers automation backed by humans. The chatbot’s features include:
- Backing by the Human Cloud Network, which reduces customer frustration and effort.
- Personal Connections Prompts technology. This chatbot AI feature enables Simplr to develop a rapport with customers. It helps deliver a level of service quality that can’t be matched by a traditional contact center.
- All-in-one platform. Simplr’s chatbot platform is the hub for all insights from both human agents and chatbots. It provides up in-context guidance, personal prompts, and product recommendations to our humans to increase conversions.
Thankful – Chatbot
Thankful’s AI Agent works within existing helpdesks to resolve large volumes of customer inquiries across email, chat, SMS, and in-app channels. The company works almost exclusively in the ecommerce and retail space.
Thankful uses Natural Language Processing to better understand what your customers want and deliver the service they need. Recording data in real-time, Thankful tracks a handful of customer service analytics that give you better insight into the root causes and effects of customer queries.
Ada – Performance
Ada supports small businesses, medium businesses, and large enterprises.
It’s best suited for:
- Industries that require secure data capture and storage (such as finance)
- Companies that need to provide service to accounts
- Brands that need proactive chat
- Companies that require audience segmentation and targeting based on user behavior and attributes
On the flip side, Ada is not the best fit for ecommerce companies given that it doesn’t provide an in-chat payments option native to the platform.
Solvvy – Performance
Solvvy works with small businesses, medium businesses, and large enterprises.
It’s best suited for:
- Companies that are looking for seamless omnichannel experiences across web, chat, email, SMS, social channels, and more
- Ecommerce, SaaS, and finance
- Brands looking to increase their self-service rates.
- Companies that require audience segmentation and targeting based on user behavior and attributes
On the flip side, Solvvy is not the best fit for companies that require multi-user usage or extremely customized automation solutions.
Simplr – Performance
Simplr works with mid-market, large, and enterprise brands in the ecommerce, SaaS, quick-serve restaurant (QSR)/fast-casual, and edtech industries.
Simplr’s chatbot is a great fit for companies looking to:
- Scale high-quality customer support across all digital channels
- Cut costs over time through intelligent automation
- Generate more revenue through CX
- Break up with their call center
- Prove the economic benefits of CX to the broader company
Thankful – Performance
Thankful supports retail and ecommerce brands.
It’s ideal for companies who are looking for:
- Omnichannel support (across email, SMS, and chat)
- Expertise in retail and ecommerce
- Strong client/customer relations
Many customer reviews note that Thankful’s AI Agent can be difficult to set up. It’s important to have an internal team ready to manage the implementation.
Cost and Value
How do these companies compare when it comes to cost and overall value?
Ada – Cost
Ada offers an annual or multiyear platform subscription pricing based on the use case, number of integrations, and conversation volumes. Potential customers must contact Ada or schedule a demo in order to receive this custom pricing quote.
In terms of value, it’s important to keep in mind that Ada is not a fully managed platform, and requires one in-house full-time employee (FTE) to help manage the platform. This additional cost should be considered when weighing your chatbot vendor options.
Although Ada earns high marks for its conversational design, its less-than-stellar intent detection can result in the dreaded loop of “please state your inquiry in another way,” which is incredibly frustrating for users. Finally, reviewers on G2 note that the Ada bot lacks sophisticated self-learning AI, and remains a manual process.
Solvvy – Cost
Solvvy offers three pricing levels:
- Standard (for companies with less than 50,000 annual customer service requests)
- Pro (for companies with less than 500,000 annual customer service requests)
- Enterprise (for companies with more than 500,000 annual customer service requests or complex requirements)
Each subscription level comes with its own set of features. Pro, for instance, comes with all Standard features, plus multiple personas, multiple customer support channel options, KB Gap Identification, and more. Enterprise comes with all Pro features, plus multiple orgs, non-standard UI Customizations, CSAT surveys, persona-based routing, and more.
Overall, in terms of value, Solvvy offers low maintenance costs (and doesn’t require engineers!) but lacks sophisticated capabilities in comparison to other chatbot vendors. On G2, Solvvy features like A/B testing, multi-user usage, and what information is collected by the bot are all rated significantly lower.
Simplr – Cost
Simplr helps companies save an average of 42% on their overall CX costs – and does it quickly.
Simplr operates on a pay-per-resolution model which means you only pay for tickets that they resolve (either through the Simplr Chatbot or the Human Cloud Network). There are no implementation fees nor overhead for agents.
Traditionally, automation routes inquiries based on complexity. Simplr, however, offers routing based on value. For instance, a seemingly simple question (like shoe sizing) that holds the opportunity for conversion, upsell, or building lifetime value is routed to a human because the data shows they convert better than chatbots.
According to a commissioned Total Economic Impact™ study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Simplr, Simplr clients experience a 178% return on investment over three years with an under three-month payback period.
Thankful – Cost
There are no hidden costs associated with launching with Thankful, and no cost to deploy. Pricing for the service is run on a case-by-case basis.
What support and technical help is offered at the top five chatbot providers?
Ada – Support
Ada provides customer success and support. According to customer reviews on G2, the Ada support team is extremely helpful when it comes to troubleshooting and chatbot improvement. They also offer Ada Academy, which is a self-paced online learning environment that supports Ada clients as they implement an automated customer experience strategy.
Solvvy – Support
Customer success and support is provided with all three pricing plans: Standard, Pro and Enterprise. That said, according to customer reviews on G2, Solvvy does not provide the resources necessary to continue to improve and iterate upon implementation.
Simplr – Support
Simplr’s award-winning partner success team is known for supporting and empowering their clients. They are available 24/7 and also communicate through a feedback platform so that nothing falls between the cracks.
Thankful – Support
Many Thankful reviews on G2 mention how thoughtful and devoted Thankful’s internal customer support team is
Overall, Ada is known for its ease of use. Customers like the usability of its platform for building out basic question-answering chatbots, including Ada’s no-code tools and its prepackaged skills for the industries it supports.
However, in exchange for this ease of use, Ada customers must be prepared to dole out internal time, resources, and personnel to get the platform up and running. One in-house FTE is required to manage and maintain the platform, so plan accordingly.
Overall, Solvvy offers low maintenance costs and doesn’t require engineers. Customers also rave about Solvvy’s sky-high self-service rates, which is a huge plus for some brands.
That said, the platform’s capabilities are not as sophisticated as its competitors. Features like A/B testing, multi-user usage, and what information is collected by the bot are all rated significantly lower by G2 reviewers. Solvvy users also say that its reporting could stand to be more sophisticated and granular.
Simplr was founded on the belief that the traditional contact center is at its core cost-inefficient, and the rising expectations of the NOW Customer have unfortunately only compounded these inefficiencies. Today, companies, CXOs and CX leaders are being asked to do what feels impossible – cut costs and maintain or improve quality. Many companies have turned to chatbots/automation as a way to gain efficiency/save money but have found quality suffers.
Simplr is the only solution on the market that offers automation backed by humans. Through a combination of chatbot and humans, Simplr is able to automate and resolve up to 80% which results in improved efficiency and cost savings all while providing a better customer experience. The solution dials up the automation over time – the platform enables agents to help the bot get smarter, allowing for greater automation, which drives costs down over time. In fact, with Simplr’s combination of automation and human labor, partners see an average savings of 49% when compared to what they spend with their current bots/BPOS.
Thankful – Overview
Overall, Thankful is a good option for retail and ecommerce brands looking to use chatbot automation for the first time. However, the company does not use intent detection and only has one data scientist on staff, which could affect the long-term health of your chatbot.
Thankful customers are impressed with how easy it is to work with the company, the omnichannel capabilities, and focus on ecommerce.