Chatbots are taking a toll over mobile apps and challenging its existence. With the rapid adoption of chatbots by leading companies, majority of business leaders are thinking of building one. If you are one among them and wondering ‘what’s the exact cost to build a chatbot application?’ you have come to the right place! This blog details all essential parameters involved in chatbot application development and its associated cost to open up all hidden charges.

To start with, let’s understand the number of stages involved in chatbot application development.

  • Managing incoming stream of messages with backend development
  • Creating modules to integrate with each channel
  • Integrating Natural Language Processing (NLP) with readymade APIs
  • Creating natural humanly replies with Conversational Intelligence
  • Aligning chatbot conversations with the commercial and core purpose of development

Having understood this, let’s move on to know how much time, resources and effort is involved at each stage.

How much does it Cost to Develop a Chatbot Application?

The following table shows estimated number of hours and approximate cost to build a chatbot application with bifurcation for each stage of development:

 

Kindly note that the number of hours and charges specified in above table are just an approximate estimation of time and money that would be spend in chatbot application development. It is not a benchmark that holds true for all chatbot development company.

Let’s dig deeper into each stage of chatbot application development and know the justification in terms of time and money for building a commercial chatbot.

Handling Incoming Messages with Backend Development

The first step while building a chatbot is developing a backend that can manage an incoming stream of messages. This backend should be open to receive messages from multiple channels as well as parse these messages in Natural Language Processing (NLP) services of Facebook’s Wit.ai, Api.ai, Watson Conversation and Language Understanding Intelligent Service (LUIS).

With a powerful backend, chatbot can integrate with existing systems and make more intelligent conversations with the user. With the support for both .NET and Node.js server-side SDKs, developers can choose any preferred programing language for building chatbots.

It takes around 4 hours for backend development of chatbot with AWS, Node.js and Microsoft Bot Framework.

Creating Channels and Integrating Modules

With a powerful backend system, developers move on to the next stage of chatbot application development, i.e. creating modules for integration with each channel. Though the integration of every channel is unique in nature, developers can add endpoints to send and receive chat messages as per access tokens authorization.

Chatbot’s UI should integrate quick reply buttons and other visuals essential for smoother conversations with the users. The best example is Facebook Messenger chatbot that uses JavaScript, HTML and CSS for conversational UI by means of WebView.

Natural Language Processing (NLP) Services

The main part of chatbot application development is the integration with NLP services that allows bots to engage in natural and humanly conversations with users. Developers do not need to write an altogether new NLP algorithm; they can use from existing APIs of Google, IBM, Microsoft and Facebook.

Integration of NLP service with API is a time-consuming task as it requires training of different entities and intents. Developers are required to map entities to specific objects of the existing system such as names, identifiers or products. In order to authenticate user’s input, developers need to implement business logic and authentication rules for validating the received data. This validation requires developers to code in Node.js and .NET.

Making Conversationally Intelligent Chatbot

This stage of chatbot application development is the most time consuming and requires intense hard work of developers. They need to code the chatbot such that it generates natural replies just like humans and engages in meaningful conversations as per NLP intents and entities. The only way to make a chatbot as humanly as possible is to keep iterating and improving it. As per the need of business and purpose of chatbot application development, developers can either use if-else statements or implement some complex deep learning algorithms for generating replies.

Ensuring Integration of Chatbots with Existing Systems

The end goal of developing a chatbot is to present users with a customer service agent that assists them in each and every stage. Chatbots must serve the commercial purpose of development, i.e. they must be able to assist users in getting the task done, be it booking flight tickets, shopping for the right size apparel, ordering food from restaurant or anything else as per the nature of work of business.

Control Panel

Control panel is used to track the conversation history of chatbot, number of users and error logs. Control panel is required to measure bot’s performance. Setting up a database for chatbots may take up to a week’s time, but it’s worth it. Developers are using long code blocks for building control panel using Node.js + Angular 2 and .NET.

Final Notes…

Considering the smooth development life cycle, the overall time taken for building a chatbot application is around 586 to 590 business hours. The approximate cost to build a chatbot application ranges anywhere between $24580 and $30920 as the level of expertise and experience of developer working on the project.

Hidden Brains is a reputed chatbot application development company helping business leaders build a chatbot as per their requirements and specifications.


written by for Emerging Technologies, IT Services section(s).