“How much does a chatbot cost?” “What is a price for a chatbot?”. These are the most common queries on search engines right after the question “What is a chatbot?”.
As soon as a company considers installing a conversational agent, as soon as it starts thinking that the daily life of its employees would be easier with a bot, the financial question arises. So, let’s talk money!
Every company, that is implementing a new tool, getting an innovative software, requires budget management, calculation of possible returns on investment and planning of expenses.
But, of course, no company communicates its prices easily without any explanation. Even less so when it is a custom-made SaaS solution, whose price considers a host of technical elements, but also the use case, the number of employees involved, the applications to be connected… Long story short, the bill differs case by case, but let’s try to detail the different expense items.
When you buy a chatbot, you are buying a tool that requires advanced technologies.
First of all, it has to understand natural language to be able to communicate as a human, a full member of your company.
The bot must also be able to execute actions and answer many questions, with a continuous evolution of its capacities thanks to machine learning.
A chatbot must also be flexible in creating scenarios according to its usage. Some scenarios can be modeled, such as questions and answers with FAQ formats, but the chatbot must also adapt to unique and original cases depending on the business.
And above all, chatbots must be added in a fluid and ergonomic way to your business applications. It must be able to exchange data with your applications and launch actions in these applications.
Chatbots are far from being equal, neither in their use, nor in their possibilities, nor in their functionality. The differences in the bot’s objective will lead to more or less work upstream.
HR chatbot is used for vacation approval, or to answer essential business questions.
IT chatbot is used to ensure the company’s IT support, record requests, technical issues.
Legal chatbot is used to inform employees about legislation, provide contract templates.
Change management chatbot is used to support a move, a merger, the arrival of a new tool in a company.
First and foremost, you need to define the chatbot’s functions, its value proposition and of course its objectives.
Who will it be aimed at?
Should it be deployed to all employees?
Should it be connected to the company’s internal software?
Which processes can be automated?
How many messaging platforms will it cover?
What is the expected conversational flow?
Should we think about deploying several chatbots depending on the services and uses?
Is it better to deploy only one solution that will allow you to easily create other chatbots according to your needs?
In this case, maybe the cost (financial and human) of the first chatbot will seem important but will be quickly amortized by the creation of the following ones.
It is essential that the chatbot is integrated in the employees' environment, in their intranet, or in their communication system, like Microsoft Teams. It must also be linked to the users' database. Who are they? What is their position? What level of information should they have according to their profile or hierarchical level?
Of course, it is not a question of adding a new software that does not speak to your other business software. The chatbot must meet its objective and therefore be well integrated into its environment.
A chatbot communicates, exchanges data with an employee. The sharing of information must always be justifiable and useful to remain in accordance with the RGPD legislation. There is no need to provide or store too much data. If it is not coherent, the chatbot should not keep them in memory, it should sort them out and eliminate them.
It is therefore necessary to think about the integration of the chatbot, its conversation path, the KPIs to follow, the interaction channels, the training of the artificial intelligence.
All these elements have of course an impact on the price of chatbot development.
Depending on the size and number of employees of the company, implementation or installation fees are charged. These are one-time costs that are due from the start to set up the system adjusted to the internal organization. These costs can run into the thousands of euros, but they are accompanied by support to ensure that the system is up and running, effective in the company.
When installing a chatbot, everyone must be trained:
The chatbot itself must understand the company, its language, its codes, its abbreviations, its particularities, to provide everyone with the right information.
The users of the chatbot who must initially feed it, train it, and make it a real operational assistant in the company.
Both training periods can take time and attention, which affects the cost. Training a chatbot can take time, depending on the complexity of the system, the quality of the tree structure, the number of basic questions, its connection with the other APIs of the company… The better the chatbot is set up and trained, the easier and more efficient its use will be for the employees.
So, training a chatbot involves not only the vendor but also the internal team spending time and effort to improve its understanding. Of course, the more time it takes, the more it costs. This can result in direct costs (a vendor charges for time spent or caps the number of days provided) but also indirect costs (for employees and the time they spend on this activity).
This always pays off in the long run, because the better trained the robot is, the fewer questions will be left to ask through other channels (email, in person, phone), after its installation.
The training is followed by a testing period. Testing the chatbot means making sure that all connections, flows and sophisticated elements work. Of course, this phase can also have an impact on the cost.
After these steps, the chatbot is ready to be a part of the organization. It was all worth it after all!
Now the chatbot is up and running, it is launched and interacts with the company’s employees. However, there are still operating and sometimes maintenance costs.
Most chatbots are charged per month, the number of connected employees or users does not influence the price, only the number of conversations that can be defined in advance.
The monthly subscription includes:
Maintenance and hosting of the software
Access to training support, which can be online, by documentation or in person
Permanent technical support
As discussed above, the installation of a chatbot will require a cost in time and effort within your company: to set up the chatbot, train it and make it work at its best. Several installation options exist with an important investment from the chatbot editor. Here are the key points to anticipate:
Integration: think about the functionality and purpose of the chatbot (especially with respect to GDPR). Costs will depend on the complexity and systems involved.
Implementation: This investment will not be repeated, it is a one-time investment into the launch of an operational chatbot. The costs will correspond to the internal time and effort, as well as the required assistance of the chatbot provider.
Training and testing: Some level of training is normally included in the cost. Testing may also be included in the implementation costs, but this is something to check twice.
Operating costs: Most chatbots are charged per month. Rates are often negotiable depending on the length of the contract.
Now, let’s get practical. As you can see, installing a chatbot is really a tailor-made operation. But once launched, it significantly improves the employee experience, frees employees from repetitive tasks, shares useful information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week… In other words, it greatly improves team performance.
Now let’s do the math, installing a chatbot and setting it up can cost between 5,000 and 15,000 usd for a simple software that works in enhanced FAQ.
For a chatbot connected to APIs and IT systems, a real virtual assistant using artificial intelligence and machine learning, prices vary between 15 000 and 100 000 usd depending on the complexity of the tasks and the size of the company.
To be precise, a company with 5,000 employees that would like to install an HR chatbot, connected to its internal system, to post vacations, time off, generate pay slips, and provide a multitude of information and services to its employees, would pay around $50,000. That’s a cost of 10$ per employee… It is worth it though, isn’t it?
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