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Price transparency is dead, murdered by chatbot providers

Researching chatbot providers has for the most part, led me to one thing – frustration. Frustration at how little chatbot providers value potential customers. Maybe they think their products are only fit for large enterprises. Maybe they don’t want to bother with small-time consumers, which is fine but they should be upfront about it. There is an abundance of chatbot providers saturating the market, however there are only a handful witnessing massive success – to me it is clear why. One of the key reasons for their initial engagement is price transparency. As a consumer one of the biggest turnoffs is being assaulted with a “Contact Us”, “Request Demo” or “Get a Quote” button as soon as I visit chatbot websites. Sure there is an abundance of puffery with bold claims about why your chatbot platform is the best, but you’re providing nothing of value to me. I will close your website at this point. I can guarantee I’m not the only person that does. Trust me, you are not unique, you do not stand out, and your chatbot platform is not impeccable enough to warrant the wasted bandwidth. There are of course perfectly valid reasons for not disclosing prices upfront, but for the majority of chatbot platforms or chatbot providers this is not the case. 

If you are a chatbot provider try actually putting yourself in the shoes of consumers. A consumer such as myself might easily manage to stumble across 150 – 160 different chatbot providers, many of which have little-to-no transparency about what it is they offer, let alone how much it costs. There is a zero chance of consumers signing up to 150 mailing lists with nothing in return, only to be hounded by 150 hungry salespeople. Additionally, if your website loads a chatbot or full-page marketing funnel on first paint – stop! It’s tacky, it really is. Obviously I’m being partially hyperbolic when I use the term first paint, but if I visit your website I want to get a feel for things first.

This shouldn’t be my first impression of your chatbot platform:

Many chatbot provider websites

Enough negatives! Let’s discuss what chatbot platforms do right. I’m a tinkerer, I love to experiment – usually until something breaks. I also have an eye for detail and will generally see things that others don’t. If you as a chatbot platform release your chatbot in a form that allows me to self-host, you are venturing into holy grail territory. This is a fantastic business model because it allows consumers and tinkerers like myself to get to know your product or platform without breaking the bank. Linking back to an earlier point, it allows you as a chatbot platform to focus on B2B or Enterprise clients. If your chatbot platform is actually decent (and even if it’s not!), those self-hosting consumers become free publicity, it’s a win-win. Further, if you have a bunch of tinkerers using your platform on various systems it acts as an additional layer of quality control. Granted this is reliant on having a system in place for those users to report issues. Perhaps you’re so confident in your developers and have managed to create a perfect, bug-free system (ha!), in that case – please share it with the rest of us!

I dare say most of your users will not be like me. Which no doubt you’ll see as a positive – no pesky sticky beak looking under the hood, ruining the illusion of our super stable unique and beautifully crafted chatbot platform. In that case, what I have seen the more successful chatbot platforms implement – ease-of-use, easy sign-up and a free tier are common elements. Sure, these platforms don’t have fine-tuning abilities like more advanced chatbot platforms, however, they have lowered the barrier of entry. In doing so they have branched out to many more potential customers. Chatbot platforms in this category also provide very valuable information for free – this is why they are at the top.

There are of course many other factors when considering which chatbot platform to use, however, I believe these are key factors differentiating the top platforms from those that are likely to fade into obscurity.

To summarise, successful chatbot platforms:

DO have

- Transparent pricing

- Easy sign-up

- Free tier

- Ease-of-use

- High quality free content

- Self-hosting available

DON’T have

- No pricing information

- Immediate “Contact Us”, “Request Demo” or “Get a Quote” barriers

- Automatic chatbot or full-page pop-ups

Featured image by Alex Jones on Unsplash

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