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What are the best conversational AI platforms?

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If your business has a website and a very busy customer experience or customer support team that hardly has time to answer all the live chat messages you get, then good news. They don’t have to.

Well, they’ll still have to answer some of the trickier live chat questions, but a conversational AI platform can actually take care of most of the routine questions they get on a daily basis.

But how do you choose the right artificial intelligence software for your business or industry? What do machine learning, NLU (natural language understanding), and NLP (natural language processing) have to do with it?

Having built a conversational AI platform, we’ve seen how startups and companies in a variety of industries, from ecommerce to healthcare, have used AI technology to improve the customer experience, automate tasks, and empower their agents.

Now, Gartner has its own top picks when it comes to conversational AI platforms, and even though Dialpad has a very robust and unique product, it’s still relatively new. So, below, we’ll look at a comparison of some of the best conversational AI platforms and how they stack up against each other.

Let’s start by looking at why you might want to use a conversational platform that uses AI for your business.

Why businesses leverage conversational AI platforms

If you’ve ever used voice assistants like Alexa or Siri, then you’ve probably already got a rough idea of why these conversational experiences are becoming so popular. If not, here are three big reasons.

It improves customer satisfaction

The most obvious one: Conversational AI platforms can help businesses improve customer service. There are a few ways it can do this. First, it helps businesses automate customer service tasks, such as answering FAQs (frequently asked questions).

This frees up your customer support agents to handle more complex issues and customer interactions. Think about it. Would you rather have your support agents answering a question about what your business hours are, or handling an irritated customer who has a complicated pricing question?

Why not just let your virtual assistant handle the easy stuff?

Second, conversational AI can help businesses provide 24/7 customer service, even outside of traditional customer service hours. This is because conversational AI can handle customer inquiries at any time of day or night.

It reduces operational costs

On a related note, conversational AI platforms can also help businesses reduce customer support costs. The more you can use self-service options like these virtual agents to automate repetitive, low-value tasks, the more efficiently you can resource your contact center team and get them to focus on only the tasks that really need their help.

It helps you sell more

Finally, a good conversational AI platform can act as an extended member of your sales team and help you increase sales. Think of your customer journey. Say you’re an ecommerce company (this is mainly relevant for businesses that sell their products or services online).

How many of your potential customers are dropping out during the checkout process? How many of those people drop off because they’re concerned about shipping fees or your refund policy? A well placed customer service chatbot here can answer questions about these topics right on the screen as they’re checking out. And the best part is, it fully automates this step—you don’t need someone monitoring your website's checkout page 24/7 to catch these questions.

❓ Question:

What’s the difference between chatbot platforms and conversational AI platforms? Not much, really. They do pretty similar things—you might make the argument that chatbot platforms are less sophisticated, but that’s mostly because most people still perceive chatbots as this robotic, outdated type of automation that can only handle basic, preset questions. As we’ll see in just a bit, this is no longer the case.

The most common problems conversational AI solutions solve

Conversational AI solutions can help businesses with a huge variety of tasks throughout the customer lifecycle.

We’ve talked through a few of the common use cases above, but here are a few of the most common issues that you could solve with a conversational AI platform. If any of them sound familiar, it might be time to consider one of the options below.

  • Human agents wasting time or working inefficiently because they have to answer repetitive FAQs from customers or prospects

  • Lack of round-the-clock customer support

  • A worldwide customer base that tends to try to contact your business at all hours

  • Low conversion rates on your website’s checkout process

  • Customers who are frustrated from waiting on hold for a long time

Buying a conversational AI platform: here’s what to look for

If you’re looking to invest in a conversational AI platform for your business, there are a few key factors you should keep in mind. Here are a few key features to look for.

Robust AI capabilities

First things first: The artificial intelligence technology itself has to be good. This includes the speech recognition and machine learning engine, and also how “smart” the chatbot is. For example, does it just provide preset answers to preset questions? Or can it crawl your company’s help pages and other documentation to find answers to a wide variety of customer questions?

Dialpad’s conversational intelligence functionality can do exactly this, and on top of that, there are a few other interesting use cases for it too. For example, it can transcribe calls and video meetings—in real time:

Dialpad ai real time transcription blog size

It can also do live sentiment analysis, which makes it easy for supervisors who are overseeing big teams of agents to quickly see if a call is going south:

Sentiment analysis feature v3 blog size

And finally, Dialpad even has an industry-first Ai CSAT feature that solves one of the biggest challenges with CSAT scores: the fact that not a lot of people actually fill out those surveys. Usually only the angriest—and happiest—customers actually bother to respond to these surveys, which means your CSAT answers are likely to be very skewed and not representative of how your customers feel overall.

Dialpad's Ai CSAT feature can infer CSAT scores for 100% of your customer calls thanks to its hyper-accurate transcription feature. The result? A much more representative sample size for CSAT scores, and a more accurate understanding of how satisfied your customers really are:

Predictive Ai CSAT Analytics blog size

Easy set-up

The platform should be easy to use, with a clear conversational interface—for both your agents and your customers. Your customers should be able to easily find the live chat or chatbot window on your website and start a conversation. And your agents should be able to easily create conversational flows from your contact center software or conversational AI platform.

For example, with Dialpad’s AI contact center platform lets supervisors or agents can use the no-code drag-and-drop builder to quickly put together a chatbot response flow:

Creating a chatbot flow in dialpad self service blog size v2

Omnichannel communications

Your customer support and sales team are probably using different channels to talk to your customers and prospects. Which means your conversational AI platform shouldn’t just be a messaging platform.

If a challenging question comes up, could your customer easily escalate a chatbot conversation to a voice or video call with an actual person on your team? They should be able to! This is one of the most frustrating things about most chatbot user experiences—automation is good, but don’t make it so hard for people to get in touch with a human when they need to.

Diverse integrations

Your team is likely using many other business apps and software. Your conversational AI platform should integrate with those! Not only can these integrations save a lot of time and work for your agents, they can even help you streamline your business processes and consolidate your tech stack.

For example, Dialpad’s contact center platform comes with conversational AI functionality built right in. Instead of having to buy (and manage) two different pieces of software, you’d only need one. Actually, there are a few other tools you can consolidate because of how robust Dialpad is—I’ll show you how in just a bit.

How the 6 best conversational AI software providers compare

In this list, we took some of the top conversational AI platforms listed by Gartner, and compared them to Dialpad Ai Contact Center, which does come with its own chatbot functionality. Even though it’s a relatively new product in the conversational AI space, we thought it’s worth seeing how Dialpad really stacks up against more established leaders.

1. Dialpad

Dialpad is a fully integrated unified communications and contact center platform—and yes, it comes with conversational AI functionality.

Features

At a basic level, the unified communications solution lets the average office worker make phone calls, send SMS/MMS and instant messages, and host and join video meetings, all from a single app:

Sending an SMS from Dialpad app v2 blog size

But if you happen to have a customer support, sales, or other contact center team, you can also use Dialpad Ai Contact Center, which is designed specifically for teams that have to handle high volumes of external communications on a daily basis.

From your essentials like call routing and IVR, to customer engagement features like CSAT surveys, Dialpad comes with it all:

Call Routing Options in dialpad v2 blog size

And because it’s a fully omnichannel contact center platform, that means your agents can handle not only voice calls, but also social media channels like Facebook Messenger and digital channels like WhatsApp messaging, all from a single dashboard:

Dialpad omnichannel flows blog size

More importantly, since we’re talking about AI, Dialpad has its own artificial intelligence technology, which we call Dialpad Ai. It can transcribe calls in real time using speech recognition and natural language processing, and more importantly, lets you build conversational AI workflows with the no-code drag-and-drop builder.

What’s unique about Dialpad Ai is that it doesn’t just provide preset answers to basic questions—it can also crawl unstructured sources of data, like FAQ pages, documents, and even past customer conversations to find answers to customer questions... And continuously improves with deep learning!

Finally, Dialpad integrates with a wide range of popular business tools, including CRMs, everyday productivity tools like Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace...

Google Workspace integration blog size

And if you want to build your own integrations, you can do that with the API. It’s truly a robust, well-thought-out ecosystem that gives you everything you need for both external and internal communications in one place.

See how Dialpad's omnichannel contact center platform works

Why buy a separate conversational AI platform when it can come included in your contact center platform? Get a demo to see how it works!

2. Boost.ai

Boost.ai is another conversational AI platform with a Slack-like user interface, that promises to let you build a custom conversational AI platform in “just a few days.” Like Dialpad, it has a “self-learning” AI that learns and gets better over time and can determine intent from a question.

Listed as a Gartner leader, Boost.ai talks about NLU quite a bit on its website and looks pretty solid. The only thing is that it’s solely a conversational AI solution—which means you’d have to purchase this separately and add it to your contact center team’s tech stack, as opposed to a unified communications + contact center platform that comes with all that functionality in one comprehensive package.

Pricing

You’ll have to contact their Sales team for a quote.

3. Cognigy.AI

Another Gartner favorite, Cognigy.AI is different from the other solutions on this list in one pretty significant way: it’s low-code, not no-code. You’ll need to have some knowledge of coding (or be friends with the developer team) to really get the most out of Cognigy.AI.

Like Dialpad, Cognigy.AI lets you automate conversations on voice and text-based channels. It does support over 100 languages, and does real-time translation, which is pretty neat, and gives its Gartner leader title some added merit.

Pricing

Reach out to their Sales team for a quote.

4. Kore.ai

As a conversational AI platform, Kore.ai seems quite powerful. It lets you create virtual assistants for both the customer experience and employee experience. What’s interesting is that Kore.ai markets themselves as having a contact center platform, but there’s no mention of telephony or how voice calls are billed on their pricing page.

(Typically, a true contact center platform should come with the ability to handle phone calls, video calls, SMS/MMS messaging, live chat, social media channels, and so on.)

Pricing

The Standard plan charges you $0.01 “per user request”—which, if you’re handling high volumes of customer conversations, can really add up. There’s also an Enterprise plan, which you’ll have to get a custom quote for.1

5. NTT Data’s eva

“eva” is NTT Data’s conversational AI platform, which has gotten high marks from Gartner. Like the other options on this list, it lets you create virtual agent chatbots that can be deployed across different digital channels like your website, WhatsApp, SMS messaging, and more.

One good basic functionality that it also has: eva lets your customers change communication channels midway through a conversation (in case they need to escalate to a call, for instance), and has a drag-and-drop builder.

Pricing

Reach out to their Sales team for a quote.

6. SurveySparrow

As its name suggests, SurveySparrow is a conversational AI platform that has conversational surveys primarily, along with a few other features like NPS software, a no-code chatbot, and even 360 employee assessments. The use cases seem a bit scattered, and what’s not clear from their website is whether they have their own AI and NLP engine.

If you’re just looking for a way to optimize workflows for running employee and customer surveys, the SurveySparrow would be a good option—but if you want an omnichannel contact center or customer engagement platform, then it’s probably not your best option.

Pricing

Their lowest paid plan starts at $99 per month, with a maximum of two users. The next level up is $499 per month.2

Upgrade your customer support with the best conversational AI platform

If you’re looking for a conversational AI platform, there are many options to try out and get demos of. The thing to keep in mind is to start your search by knowing the answer to one fundamental question: Do you want a solution that’s already fully integrated into your communications platform (i.e. your phone system or contact center software)? Or do you want something that you’ll be paying for (and administering in the back-end) separately?

For most companies, the more convenient—and cost-effective—option is the first one, and if that’s the case, you might consider something like Dialpad. Otherwise, there are some very niche tools on this list as well, like SurveySparrow, that you can add on to your tech stack. (Just be mindful of bloat.)

FAQs about conversational AI platforms

What is a conversational AI platform?

A conversational AI platform is software that lets you build, train, and deploy chatbots or “virtual agents.” These platforms usually use machine learning, natural language understanding, and/or natural language processing to understand the intent behind questions that customers or prospects ask you, and provide answers to those questions.

Many conversational AI platforms come with pre-built components that you can use to build your chatbot or conversational agent without needing to know how to code. These components can include things like templates, pre-built workflows, and so on.

What is an example of conversational AI?

Is chatbot a conversational AI?

1kore.ai/platform/pricing/

2surveysparrow.com/pricing/#business