It’s not news that today anyone can build a chatbot. One is spoilt for choice when choosing a no-code tool and there is no shortage of resources to learn how to use those tools. These bot building tools are great to build an MVP or a very simple chatbot that gathers information and is essentially a replacement for a form. However, these tools fall short when it comes to building complex chatbots that are responsible for critical business operations.
Here are four core benefits of building a business chatbot using custom code:
1. Tighter Integration With Your Existing Apps
Your business already has existing systems and applications in place that your customers depend on. Using code allows you to extend those existing apps with the functionality of a chatbot and create a unified experience for your users. Also, code makes it easier to compose data from multiple APIs to respond to a single request, something that is needed more often than not.
Let’s consider the use case of a hypothetical travel app called Ridenow that allows one to create custom holiday packages that include travel, accommodation and activities. On top of the app, Ridenow wants to let users create those packages using a chatbot. However, critical steps like picking seats for a flight or choosing one of several time slots for an activity cannot be completed without an external UI. By integrating the bot with their existing app, Ridenow was able to fetch existing components of their app when a chat interface wasn’t sufficient. Moreover, the users had a great experience creating their packages over a period of time as all of their data was stored in the existing database, allowing them to switch between the chat, mobile and web interfaces seamlessly. Lastly, the dev team was also happy as they could use simple scripts to perform functions which, if a no-code tool was used, would have needed unnecessary implementation of third-party APIs.
As you can easily understand from this example use case, using code enables one to provide a seamless chat experience, which is far more important than just building a chatbot because everybody is doing it.
2. Less Limitation And More Flexibility
It is crucial to understand that no-code bot building tools are also apps that are built on top of third-party platforms and APIs and are therefore able to offer limited functionality. For instance, ManyChat, the most popular no-code tool for chatbots only integrates with Facebook Messenger and is therefore tied down by the rules and limitations of the Messenger Platform. Moreover, even when ManyChat does add a new channel, it won’t be easy to deploy your current chatbots without making adjustments to meet the requirements of new channels.
On the other hand, coding your chatbot from scratch allows you to build and deploy multi-channel chatbots that provide a host of benefits over chatbots that are built for a specific channel.
Additionally, you can code a bot of any size and complexity without worrying about performance as it is fully in your control to deploy additional resources. On the contrary, no-code tools that support thousands of other chatbots begin to break as more steps and plugins are incorporated. It’s rather ironic that the growth of the tool that your business uses can have a negative impact on it.
Testing is another important aspect that is often overlooked when debating between code and no-code. Code can simulate traversing from state to state with possible inputs leading to effortless debugging and error handling. On the contrary, using a no-code tool requires one to test every outcome by running the bot each time and inputting data manually, which is not only tedious but also runs the risk of errors being overlooked.
3. Less Dependency And More Control
No-code tools always come with a risk of platform dependency and unpredictable costs. You cannot switch from one tool to another without rebuilding your entire chatbot. Moreover, not having access to the source code of your chatbots leave you at the mercy of the tools and often result in exorbitant costs as your user base grows.
As a business, it is imperative that you make informed decisions with a long-term perspective. Investing in building a chatbot using code is one such decision that definitely pays off in the longer run as you have complete control over the user experience and you won’t have to deal with unpleasant surprises from no-code tools in the form of raised platform fee or a death due to acquisition.
Lastly, in this day and age when privacy is a growing concern amongst users and governments around the world, it is crucial that businesses are cautious about the data they gather, store and own. Relying on third-party platforms are fraught with the risk of loss or leakage of data with a direct impact on the business that collected it in the first place.
4. Utilization Of Unified APIs
Amio provides a unified API that takes the pain away from developing chatbots and messaging experiences for multiple channels. Developers are able to write one set of code to deploy multi-channel chatbots and focus on improving it rather than keeping track of platform changes and maintaining multiple codebases.
Businesses are able to fast-track the launch of messaging experiences, reach a wider audience and better utilize development resources. Additionally, when it’s time to up the ante by adding support for Natural Language Processing (NLP) and third-party analytics, Amio’s inbuilt integrations with Wit.ai, IBM Watson and Botanalytics can reduce implementation costs significantly. Amio currently supports Facebook Messenger, Viber, SMS and Webchat, with an Intercom integration in the works.
No-code tools empower the masses to tinker and create software that would otherwise cost thousands of dollars and months of development time. However, these tools are not ideal for businesses and enterprises looking to deliver seamless messaging experiences. At the end of the day, good customer experience is what contributes to the growth and sustainability of a business and everything else is—well secondary.