The emergence of generative artificial intelligence (often abbreviated as “genAI”) has transformed the chatbot. Today, genAI chatbots are not only adept at addressing customer queries (and expected to become the primary customer service channel for a quarter of companies by 2027), they also can write content, summarize metrics for a report, and provide personalized guidance throughout a customer’s online journey. Here’s what AI chatbots can now do and how to select the best bot for your business.
What are AI chatbots?
An artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot is a software application that simulates human conversations with users through text or voice. When a user enters a prompt, the chatbot leverages AI technology to understand user input, process information, and generate an appropriate response to help the user achieve tasks or obtain information.
AI chatbots can be used for a wide range of business applications, including customer service, analyzing sales and marketing data, and generating written content, like reports, blogs, and product descriptions.
How do AI chatbots work?
AI chatbots are powered by large language models (LLMs), which are trained on vast amounts of text data to understand and generate human-like language. Their ability to pre-train on large datasets, understand context, and generate coherent, complex responses makes LLMs versatile for all kinds of language-related tasks. Examples of LLMs include OpenAI’s Generative Pretrained Transformer (GPT) or Google’s Language Model for Dialogue Applications (LaMDA).
In contrast to their rule-based or menu-based predecessors, AI chatbots can understand natural human language beyond predetermined keywords, prompts, or responses and converse with human users in a more fluid and conversational way. They can also be further trained on datasets specific to the task they’re intended to perform.
Using AI technologies called machine learning and deep learning—essentially, computer systems learning from data to make predictions—AI chatbots can also improve and refine responses and output over time.
4 benefits of using AI chatbots
- Enhanced customer service and experience
- Increased conversions and sales
- Reduced operational costs and increased efficiency
- Expanded market reach and accessibility
The rapid advancement of AI is driving continuous growth in chatbot capabilities and applications. Here are a few of the current benefits AI chatbots can bring to your business:
1. Enhanced customer service and experience
Nearly 60% of consumers feel wait times are the most frustrating part of the customer service experience. AI chatbots are available with the click of a button 24/7 to assist customers as they shop or to address routine questions or issues. GenAI technology allows these bots to create the illusion of conversation with a human—a far better experience for the customer than multiple-choice-style interactions of the past. Bots can also enhance a customer’s self-service journey by directing them to relevant resources.
2. Increased conversions and sales
AI chatbots can engage your website visitors in real time, answering product or service questions on-demand as they browse. They can access historical customer data, such as purchase history or previous interactions, to provide personalized product recommendations, which can translate into more conversions. It's estimated chatbots can increase sales by up to 67%.
3. Reduced operational costs and increased efficiency
AI chatbots can automate many repetitive tasks, which can lower operating costs, free up resources for other business initiatives, and improve overall profitability. Nearly 65% of companies implementing AI say they’ve seen productivity increase.
4. Expanded market reach and accessibility
AI chatbots can communicate in multiple languages, making products and services accessible to a global audience. They can also operate round the clock, supporting customers in different time zones.
10 best AI chatbots for business
Some general purpose chatbots can support your business by aiding with research, generating reports, analyzing data, and even writing code. Other, more specialized AI chatbots have been developed for various specific use cases, such as supporting customer service and marketing teams, providing shoppers with a digital assistant within your ecommerce store, or guiding new employees through onboarding.
Here are ten of the top AI chatbots that you can use for your business:
Use cases: Content generation, research, translations, coding
Model(s): GPT-3.5 (free), GPT-4 (paid)
Features: Complex search capabilities, bot builder
Price: GPT-4 costs $20/month
ChatGPT is a versatile tool that can support day-to-day business operations in a number of ways. You can use ChatGPT to generate written content for your website, including product descriptions and blog posts, write and analyze code, translate languages, or summarize findings and create reports.
ChatGPT also has a large and quickly growing selection of third-party plug-ins and integrations that can extend or customize its use when you use the paid version. ChatGPT’s parent company, OpenAI, has also released a custom GPT bot builder feature for paid users.
2. Bing Chat
Use cases: Content creation, research, virtual assistant
Features: Complex search capabilities, image generation, visual search
Developed by Microsoft, Bing AI is a suite of features that power the Bing search engine and other Microsoft products and services. Both ChatGPT and Bing Chat are powered by GPT-4, meaning they produce similar results, but Bing Chat also gives you access to GPT-4 and DALL-E 3, OpenAI’s image generator, for free. Additionally, while ChatGPT is an isolated interface, Bing Chat can be integrated into your browser, providing a more convenient user experience.
Use cases: Content summarization, translation, coding, research
Model(s): PaLM 2
Features: Export data to Google Workspace, text-to-speech
Bard is Google’s AI chatbot, initially powered by the company’s proprietary Language Model for Dialogue Applications (LaMDA) and now trained on Google’s new model, PaLM 2. Much like ChatGPT and Bing Chat, you can use Bard as an AI-powered assistant to draft emails, generate content, translate languages, and conduct research.
One feature that sets Bard apart is that it generates three additional drafts for each response—so if you don’t like the first answer, you can view drafts for two additional options. You can also export Bard’s answers directly to Gmail or Google Docs.
Use cases: Customer support and experience
Features: No-code bot builder, omnichannel deployment, integrations, live chat transfer
Price: Starting at $55/agent/month
The AI chatbot that Zendesk has added to its customer support software platform offers features designed to help teams improve efficiency and effectiveness, such as a no-code bot builder (that doesn’t require coding to set up) and data from several industries you can use to train and customize the bot.
You can deploy Zendesk’s chatbot across channels and integrate it with your Shopify store to pull relevant customer data—such as billing, shipping, and order information—to answer customer queries in real time or to support your human agents as they chat with customers.
Use cases: Customer support and experience
Features: No-code bot builder, omnichannel deployment, integrations, templates
Price: Starting at $29/month
Chatfuel's Chatfuel Lite is a chatbot builder designed for small businesses that need a simple, non-technical, and affordable way to build and deploy chatbots for conversational commerce. It helps businesses create conversational chatbots for Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Instagram, Telegram, and their own websites.
Chatful’s no-code bot builder is easy to use and includes pre-built templates to get the bot up and running quickly. It also integrates with popular business tools, including Shopify, so you can automate workflows such as automatically posting new product photos to social media or updating your inventory after a sale.
Use cases: Customer support and experience, marketing, and sales
Model(s): GPT-3.5 and GPT-4
Features: Omnichannel, multilingual, no-code bot builder, integrations, live chat transfer
Price: Starting at $49/month
Botsify is an AI-chatbot-building platform you can use for your website, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Telegram. Botsify's drag-and-drop bot builder and pre-built templates make it easy to get your bot up and running, and you can sync it with your Shopify store to pull your product catalog so that your customers can shop directly from supported messaging apps.
7. Jasper Chat
Use cases: Content writing, translation, plagiarism checker
Model(s): GPT-4, Anthropic, and Google’s models
Features: Copywriting, ideation, translation, plagiarism checker
Price: Starting at $39/month
Jasper Chat is a specialized AI writing assistant within the Jasper AI copywriting platform. It can generate content in more than 30 languages, summarize reports and articles, brainstorm ideas, and provide feedback.
Unlike other AI chatbots, Jasper Chat offers enterprise-level security certifications and allows you to retain ownership of your inputs (the prompts you provide the bot) and outputs (the responses generated by the bot). It has a handy browser extension and allows you to export output in multiple formats such as PDF, Word, and HTML.
8. Copy.AI Chat
Use cases: Content writing
Model(s): GPT-4, Anthropic, and Azure
Features: Copywriting, ideation, brand voice customization, templates, multilingual, web scraping
Price: Free, paid plans starting at $36/month
Copy.AI is an AI-powered copywriting platform that helps businesses and individuals generate content. Copy.AI's chatbot can assist you with research, generate website content tailored to match your brand voice, conduct grammar and spell checks, and optimize content for SEO in over 95 languages.
Use cases: Marketing and sales
Model(s): GPT-3.5 and GPT-4, Dall-E
Features: Content writing, image generation, prospecting
ChatSpot is a virtual assistant designed for businesses. Because it pulls from HubSpot’s knowledge bases, you can use ChatSpot as a sales and marketing assistant for creating content, researching, or summarizing information.
Chatspot’s functionality expands if you use HubSpot (and integrate with Shopify). You can then sync customer and sales data from your store to segment audiences based on purchasing behavior, generate reports on metrics like average order value, lifetime order value, or abandoned cart recovery, and automate ecommerce campaigns, among other features.
10. Shopify Sidekick
Use cases: Shopify virtual assistant
Price: Contact for pricing
If you're looking for an AI chatbot that knows Shopify inside and out and can be a highly competent virtual assistant for your ecommerce store, you’re in luck. Coming soon, Shopify Sidekick, is being trained to understand Shopify’s offerings and will be able to assist you with advanced tasks such as modifying site design, segmenting customers, or understanding sales trends.
7 tips for choosing an AI chatbot
- Identify your needs and goals
- Find out if it’s ready to use out of the box
- Consider cost, time and resources needed
- Understand data privacy and ownership concerns
- Check integrations
- Ensure that it works for your channels
- Understand current limitations
If you're interested in using AI chatbots to support your ecommerce business, here are some tips to consider as you begin to research your options:
1. Identify your needs and goals
Before starting your search, define what you want to achieve with your AI chatbot. Are you aiming to improve customer service, enhance lead generation, or streamline internal processes? Having clear goals can help you narrow down your options and select chatbot software that addresses your needs.
2. Find out if it’s ready to use out of the box
Some chatbots need custom coding, training, and configuration, while others can be configured without coding knowledge.
If you need an out-of-the-box solution, look for chatbots that have been trained on industry-specific data, offer machine-learning capabilities for iterative improvement in responses, and provide no-code solutions for easy implementation and maintenance.
3. Consider cost, time, and resources needed
AI chatbot solutions can be costly to acquire, set up, and maintain over time—also known as the total cost of ownership (TCO). Consider the time and resources you have available for such an investment, alongside potential returns and the value it might generate.
4. Understand data privacy and ownership concerns
Data privacy, security, and ownership are significant concerns when using AI chatbots, as these conversational AI systems collect and process large amounts of user data.
When using third-party AI chatbots, ensure the provider implements robust security measures, offers complete transparency of its data ownership practices, and adheres to data privacy regulations by carefully reading their policies.
When using customer-facing bots, you’ll likely have to update your own data collection and privacy policies, as well.
5. Check integrations
Integrations enable seamless communication and data transfer between the chatbot and other business systems to ensure a consistent customer experience, streamline workflows, and enhance overall efficiency—but not all bots can be integrated across all systems or platforms. Make sure your AI chatbot can be integrated with the systems you need.
6. Ensure that it works for your channels
Digital shoppers bounce around—from websites to mobile apps to messaging services, and they do this across devices, too. Omnichannel chatbots recognize your customers everywhere they interact with you, providing a consistent experience.
Not all bots work across all channels, so select an AI chatbot that can be deployed across those you need.
7. Understand current limitations
As an emerging technology, AI chatbots still have several limitations, and there are ethical concerns and biases to consider. Whether you’re using chatbots to brainstorm marketing ideas or write blog posts, keep an eye out for factual inaccuracies, biases in data, and plagiarism and copyright infringement. Human oversight is essential to ensure that the content you create is accurate, original, and of high quality.
AI chatbot FAQ
How do you choose an AI chatbot?
When choosing an AI chatbot for your business, consider your need and, goals, the chatbot’s readiness, the total investment needed, available integrations, omnichannel capabilities, and the current general limitations of generative AI technologies around bias, accuracy, data privacy, and security.
What are the types of chatbots?
There are three major types of chatbots. Menu-based or button-based chatbots present users with a series of buttons or menus to choose from, making them easy to use but limited in their output. Rules-based chatbots use a set of rules to determine how to respond to user input, making them more flexible than menu-based bots but still limited in their output. AI-powered chatbots use artificial intelligence to understand and respond to user input, offering countless human-like responses.
Are AI chatbots safe?
Chatbots are generally safe to use, but there are some potential risks that users should be aware of, including data and privacy concerns, inaccurate or misleading information (also known as AI “hallucinations”), and bias. Use chatbots from reputable companies, read the data and privacy policies associated with the tools you’re using, be aware of potential bias, and verify information produced by an AI chatbot.