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Chatbot building companies are starting to pop up here and there.

Although the discipline is still relatively empty, for businesses looking for a chatbot, there is enough choice to get lost.

We recently talked about the questions you need to ask a chatbot developer during your very first meeting. In this article, I want to focus more on the initial research.

What traits should a leading chatbot company have to set them apart from the rest? What makes a leading chatbot company leading?

 

How to use this guide

Ideally, you should take this article as a prospecting blueprint. Use the points below to filter out the companies that are not even worth sending an email (email?!).

Then, book a meeting with each of the remaining companies and focus on using those above 'must-ask questions'.

Ready? Let's find us some top notch companies.

 

1. Chatbot leading companies have a track record

Alright, let's get this one out of the way first.

It is fairly obvious that to be a leading anything you need to have been doing it for quite some time. As Gary Vaynerchuk would say, 'be a practitioner'.

With chatbots, this means they have built a decent amount of them for companies you care about.

For example, you can find this image on our Features page.

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What to focus on

Focus on the projects and the size of their impact.

Projects - Do you need a company that builds chatbots using a DIY platform or do you need a company that can build entirely custom chatbots tailored specifically to your brand's needs?

Dig through the projects the company has worked on and see if you fit in there. Do they have a case study section? A page with some logos? Would your company fit in?

PS: Even if you do not feel like it would because the logos are impressive, reach out. It means they know what they are doing. You will assess price and suitability later; here we are just looking for leading chatbot companies.

 

Impact - What was the impact of the chatbots they have built? Have they built 50 unsuccessful bots or 4 highly successful ones? Did any of their chatbots get significant press coverage (for being good, innovative, etc.)?

Naturally, you should favour the latter rather than the former. The only way to find this out is by doing your research. Find out the projects they have worked on and go do some Googling.

 

What not to focus on

It may be evident from the previous section, but I am going to go over it anyway.

Do not focus on number of chatbots released... yet.

The thing is, the chatbot industry is so new there are not many projects available. If you were you looking for a leading web design company, I would definitely say focus on a company that has hundreds of clients.

With chatbots, though, it is a different ballgame. You simply won't find a company that has built hundreds of chatbots. Probably not even a company that has launched one hundred.

Focus on quality (see above). Numbers will come with time.

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2. Look for a comprehensive team, not just chatbot builders

A leading chatbot building company should not just offer you the technical service of building the chatbot.

Beyond looking for a team that can offer you their geeky expertise, you should look for a team that can help you once your project is live.

The best way to do this is by finding a company with a comprehensive team in all the relevant departments: marketing, sales, development, support, copywriting and so on.

 

What to focus on

It is easy to find 5-10 so-called 'chatbot building companies' with a simple Google search. The differentiator, here, will be in the extensiveness of the content they release to the world.

Let's put it this way: a company that regularly publishes insights gathered from past builds is more likely to have a comprehensive team behind it. Right?

Do they have a blog? Do they have reports? Insights? White papers? Do they have an actual online presence? Are they responsive on social media?

 

What not to focus on

Don't focus on company size. We will keep going back to it; the chatbot industry is in its infancy. You will not find large chatbot building companies with 20+ people per department.

Focus on the ones that can offer you help and information on each aspect of bringing a chatbot to life, from initial scoping to marketing and promoting it.

 

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3. Leading businesses have something unique to offer

Sometimes, being a practitioner is not enough. The chatbot industry is one of these times.

Although you obviously need to find a company that has experience in building bots, your best bet in the search for a leading chatbot company is to look for one with that has something unique to offer.

 

What to focus on

Find their unique proposition. What can the company offer you that is entirely unique to them, and no one else can provide? Do they have anything?

I would argue that even if that unique 'thing' is not something you would need for your project, you should still rank the company higher than one that does not have anything unique to offer.

 

What not to focus on

Don't focus on buzzwords and empty promises.

It is ok to get fooled by beautiful websites and well-crafted copy. It happens to the best of us. Once you narrow down your list of companies to get a meeting with, make sure to ask the questions that matter.

Ask them about their unique proposition. Ask them how it has affected other projects. Ask them how it can help you.

 

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4. Leading chatbot companies know their stuff

There is no way around it. If you are the leader in any industry, you should know your stuff. You should know what recently happened. You should know your competitors, what they offer, and what you do differently.

Leading chatbot companies are the same.

The chatbot industry is moving ultra-fast. Things change all the time on the technical side (ask our dev team, they know), but also on the product, delivery and maintenance side.

 

What to focus on

Focus on companies that know what is currently happening. Are they aware of the recent changes? Have they heard about company ABC and what they are doing?

A good tip here is to crawl through their blog (if they do not have one you should already have dismissed them). Scout for inconsistencies with recent events or a lack of updates on new technical stuff happening.

 

What not to focus on

Don't worry too much about the length or number of pieces of news on the company's website. After all, they are a chatbot building company, not a news aggregator.

You should find enough up-to-date information to make you feel confident they know what they are doing and they are in the trenches doing things right now.

 

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5. The ability to work on a broad range of projects

The current state of the chatbot industry is there are very few leaders. Therefore, the few leaders out there should be able to work on any project you bring them.

The reality is, in a few years or so, some chatbot building companies will emerge as the 'leading healthcare chatbot experts' or the 'leading gaming chatbot experts'.

Right now, the leaders have to do a bit of everything.

 

What to focus on

It is another case of crawling through the website, but this time looking at case studies.

Find evidence that the company can work on a wide variety of projects with different scopes, different target audiences, and different delivery channels.

If you end up talking to them, bring their case studies up and discuss them. Even if they do not relate to your particular project, ask about it and dig into their experience.

 

What not to focus on

There is little room for error here. The only tip I can give you is not to be influenced too much by the exact scope of the projects the company has worked on previously.

If you are working for a children's charity and only see case studies about B2B Facebook chatbots and e-commerce web-bots, this is not a bad thing.

You are not looking for similarities; you are looking for the capacity to handle different projects and deliver to a high standard.

 

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6. Leading chatbot companies integrate

Fun chatbots aside, most of the ideas you will have for your business regarding chatbots will need some integration with other services.

Whether it is to your CRM, your social accounts, or a custom database somewhere, you will need your chatbot to integrate with your assets.

The power of chatbots, and AI to a certain extent, is the connectivity with other software. Don't settle for a company that cannot offer it.

 

What to focus on

Find evidence of integrations with third party apps or software. Can they integrate with HubSpot? Can they create virality through a range of social networks from within the chatbot? Are they open to working with custom APIs?

The key here is to make sure the company is willing to listen and tailor their building process to your particular needs - not the other way round.

 

What not to focus on

Don't focus on finding targeted pieces of information on their website about every single integration you can think of.

Once again, the industry is not there yet. Your chatbot might be the very first use case of the particular combination you are looking for!

Instead, focus on finding a company that is willing, and able, to accommodate your needs.

 

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Conclusion

This guide should have helped you find the right team amongst the leading chatbot companies to build your project. Do your research and once you narrow your results down to 5-6 companies, start taking meetings.

Good luck!