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Chatbot CostsMarch 10, 2020Written by Alex Debecker

5 Tips for Purchasing a Chatbot: Lessons from the Frontlines

Editor's note: something a bit different this time! Brad, head of sales at ubisend, took time out of his busy schedule to put this handy list of tips together. Welcome to the blog, Brad!

I know what you're thinking: 'content written by a salesperson? Yikes. I'm going to get sold to!'

Thankfully, here at ubisend, we’re a little different from your everyday sales team. As head of sales, I spend a lot of my time customer-facing. We're not a pushy 'BUY NOW' type of organisation.

Instead, we work hard to provide our prospects advice from our experience. Then, if our services align, well, their decision to come to us will be easy, and won't require 15 voicemails and 50% discount to get their business.

Our experience is key here. In a relatively new market with lots of 'pop-up shop' chatbot providers, we see clients with a breadth of requirements who have been advised in 101 different ways. Their confusion is palpable, and our first job is to clear things out.

This article is an attempt to do so at scale.

20 must ask questions for your chatbot developer

It is not uncommon for ubisend to be one of two or three vendors considered to build a company's chatbot. It still amazes me how different the messaging can be between us and other vendors and, more importantly, the poor advice being given by some.

Below are five tips that will help you make an educated business decision for your chatbot purchase. Keep this framework in mind when chatting with potential chatbot providers.

Talk to (chatbot) specialists

We want sector-specific specialists.

That’s probably the first line we hear when clients enquire with us. A company wanting an HR chatbot will look into HR software specialists that also make chatbots.

While the reasoning might seem sound, what does 'going sector-specific' really mean?

Most companies you’ll speak to may publish industry-specific content but really, they’re only a specialist in making HR, customer service, or sales software. They do not have an in-depth knowledge of what it's like to build a bespoke, challenge-solving chatbot.

Only chatbot specialists have the necessary knowledge to build this type of solution. At ubisend, we assemble a team of experts (account manager, developers, project managers, marketers, etc.) and assign it to specific projects. This team can tap into their combined knowledge of the chatbot industry, as well as their experience of the challenges your sector faces.

Platform or custom: you must choose

There are lots of mass-market platform providers offering a plug & play, software-as-a-service chatbot solutions. Their MO is to shoehorn their clients' requirements into the features of their platform. In some cases, you'll end up changing your processes to suit their software.

With a custom chatbot provider, you get a solution which is made to measure and fits your requirements. It's moulded around your internal process and delivered in a manner you want.

Everyone wants to buy 'plug & play' software because it seems easier.

Unfortunately, going down this route almost guarantees they will never get the specialist advice and dedicated attention they will need at some point down the line. Speaking from experience, 90% of the time companies that decide on platform instead of custom end up not receiving this precious help.

In fact, our largest pool of customers are companies that tried an out-of-the-box, one-size-fits-all solution and have seen it fail. They then turn to a provider that can give them their undevoted attention to make this work, a chatbot development company that can tailor the solution to solve their specific business problems.

Future-proof yourself

Chatbots are the new technology of 2020. They will be on many organisations’ implementation plans for some point this year. A Gartner survey found that 25% of businesses plan to deploy a chatbot in 2020 (source).

gartner survey 25pc companies will implement chatbots in 2020

Our clients are busy people. They focus on today's objectives. Today's objective might be to implement 'some sort' of chatbot. But what about the technology of tomorrow? What will your business need from this technology in 2021? How will the solution need to evolve?

Chances are you don't even know what those requirements are yet -- and that's ok. It's the job of your chatbot provider to help you guide you through the latest technology and future-proof your solution.

We don't see the journey end at the first chatbot implementation. The solution must evolve over time. This is why we build long term relationships with our clients. Throughout this relationship, their solution grows. Sometimes, we end up building multiple solutions across their department.

Ensure your supplier can meet the needs of this year's project, but don't stop there. Think about next year. Mention next year. Probe and make sure they are in this relationship for the long haul and capable of taking you on a journey.

Chatbots must stay up-to-date. Don't get blindsided by a beautiful user interface and a long list of features. You will need much more than that.

Plan your implementation strategy

Start small and let the performance metrics dictate your path.

It's best to follow an evolving solution methodology. To achieve the best results, we keep the initial build simple and track every relevant metrics. After an initial testing phase, we review the data and organise our roadmap.

Don't be fooled into thinking you'll purchase a licensing fee and all will be magic. A chatbot solution will always require tweaks, training, and effort to hit the heights of a humans expectation.


I touch on the five points above with all of my prospects. I make sure they're at the forefront of their mind as they move through the fascinating but sometimes confusing world of chatbots.

Using this framework should allow you to make a more educated decision on your chatbot purchase. If you'd like to speak to specialists, get in touch.

20 must ask questions for your chatbot developer