Chatbot FAQ

General is an advanced visual chatbot development platform. It is focused on conversational design and contains lots of tools for seamless business integrations. Based on the concept of “LEGO™ for chatbots”, the platform is easy to use even for those who do not have any previous chatbot experience, and at the same time powerful enough to be able to achieve the most complex business goals.

Great question! We’ve been developing bots since 2015, and used almost every platform out there. And guess what? There was no single platform that would be simple, powerful and reasonably priced at the same time. Most platforms are either too simple (good for conversational designer, but hard to achieve real world goals) or too techy (good in integrations, but pain in the neck for inexperienced developer). So, based on our experience with building chatbots for many companies in U.S. and Europe we decided to roll our own solution that will have all the bells and whistles, and offer it at a competitive price. Did we succeed at that? That’s a question for you!

Three points:

  • focus on conversational design
  • ease of combining natural language understanding with decision-tree-based conversation model
  • e-commerce tools to help you build smart shop assistants.

With Activechat you can build bots that are not toys, but real business instruments, and we’re constantly working on improving this!

Currently we support Facebook Messenger, Telegram and Twilio SMS. More channels, including voice assistants like Google Home and Amazon Alexa will go live in early 2019, stay tuned!

No – why waste time and efforts on re-creating something that is already perfected by giants like Google or Facebook? We rely on third-party solutions (Dialogflow, and others), but we provide advanced tools to make these solutions easy to integrate into conversation that you’re building for your business.

Well, like King told to Alice in Wonderland, “Begin at the beginning, and go on till you come to the end: then stop.” First, take a look at our manuals. Next, explore some of bot templates that we provide. Last, start customizing one of these templates or build from scratch, following some simple conversational design guidance that we provide. And don’t forget – we’re always ready to help!

Yes, and the power of our platform allows us to do it fast and at a reasonable cost. Fill in the brief that we have prepared for you or arrange an introduction call to discuss your objectives, and we’ll be building your conversational solution in no time!

We have both free and paid plans. Free plan is good to start your journey into modern conversational design, but has some limitations – primarily, number of users that your bot can talk to and ability to review conversations history or send broadcasts. If you need these and some advanced tools like e-commerce integrations, Starter ($19 monthly) or Architect ($49 monthly) would be a good choice. And if you’re an agency running multiple bots, Agency plan at $249 monthly offers much cheaper communication at scale and dedicated support line.

First of all, we provide great flexibility in bot design, and migrating from other platform can help you put new life into a stalled chatbot project. And then, we’ve put a lot of experience and passion into development of our platform, and feedback that we have from existing users makes us confident that we’ve managed to build something that really helps build smart chatbots. Even more – we’re constantly listening to our customers and add new features at a very high pace. If you need anything that we don’t have yet – just let us know! And – last but not least – we love chatbots, and we love our customers!

Sure! We have Bot Academy for our users, a series of educational events where we teach you to build bots that bring value™ on real life examples.

Absolutely. GDPR compliance, protected cloud deployment, high load capacity, immediate support and custom bot development make us confident that we can serve any business, regardless of its size. Choose a time for an intro call today and we’ll demonstrate how we do this.

Absolutely. We do not have access to your bot structure or conversations history unless you give us specific permission. All bots, variables and conversations are backed up at regular intervals, so even in case of a major outage you will lose only a dozen of latest messages. We use multiple cloud workers so even if the whole system goes down due to malfunction or breach, it will be automatically restored back to normal in a couple of minutes. Feel free to contact us for further security explanations.

Getting started

DON’T PANIC! Rome was not built in a day, and conversational design is something that requires getting used to. Watch some of our instructional videos to learn basic platform concepts and tools, then check one or two templates that we’ve built for you, and finally – ask for help in a live chat. We love building chatbots, and we’ve already built a ton, so something that you’re struggling with can be a breeze for us and we’d be happy to share the knowledge!

Possibly yes, but we do not compete. We are based on a completely different concept of conversation design, and it actually takes just a couple of hours to get grasp of it. Please check our manuals on migrating from Chatfuel or Manychat to see similarities and get the basic principles of bot development with

You can do it yourself (we have a special manual on migrating from Manychat or Chatfuel) or we can do it for you. Migration service is free for Agency plan owners (one migration monthly) or $199 one-time payment for Free, Starter and Architect plans. Migrating from simpler platforms like Chatfuel or Manychat can be a wise move, since it will open new opportunities for your conversational project at a lower development cost. Don’t hesitate to arrange an intro call today to see how we can help with it.

“Skill” is a sequence of bot building blocks (remember – we’re “LEGO™ for chatbots”) that helps your chatbot fulfill a specific small task. It can be something like displaying a menu, answering user’s question, sending update to the database or checking the user out at the online store. Skills are organized in tabs at the top of our Visual Builder, and you can see all skills that your bot has in “All skills” drop-down menu in the top left corner. Skills are made to work together as one bot with “events” – sending the event from one skill can trigger another and vice versa. Please check the manual for a more detailed explanation.

“Event” is a primary method of interaction between skills in your chatbot. Events can be assigned to buttons or quick replies in decision-tree based model, or to NLP intents in free-form natural language model, and you can combine both models easily within one chatbot. When any event is generated by the button, quick reply, NLP intent or SEND block, Activechat will see if there is a CATCH block for this event in your bot and trigger the sequence that is connected to this block – usually it will be a specific bot skill. Events can also be triggered through API or from external sources like e-commerce integration (order updates) or site tracking script (page visits), and from user input as slash commands (“/test” message sent to the bot will trigger “test” event and run skill that is connected to that event). Please check the manual for a more detailed explanation.

There are two basic parts to every bot conversation. One is initial onboarding sequence that is triggered by “start” system event when user starts interacting with the bot for the first time. Another is “default” event that is triggered every time user is sending a message to your bot. You have skills for these events built into each new bot that you create. Start with adding some blocks to the “start” skill (you can use our templates as an example) and then decide what will happen on the “default” event. Usually you will want to use SWITCH block to check for specific user input ($_last_user_input system variable) if you do not use NLP engine, or send user input to NLP engine for intent detection by NLP block. When you use NLP integration, “default” skill will be used only to forward user input to Dialogflow or another NLP engine, and actual bot response will be defined by the skill that NLP engine will trigger. Please check the manual for a more detailed explanation.

Easy as 1-2-3! (1) Make sure you are the admin of the page, (2) Go to “Settings – Messengers – Facebook”, authorize with Facebook (don’t forget to give Activechat permission to control the page that you’d like to connect) and (3) click “Connect” next to the page name. That’s it! Now you can go to your page and test the bot with “Send message” button (don’t forget to put some actual blocks into “start” and “default” skills). Please check the manual for a more detailed explanation.

First, you will need a bot access token – you can get it from @BotFather on Telegram. Next, paste that token into “Settings – Messengers – Telegram” and click “Connect”. Please check the manual for a more detailed explanation.

Go to your Twilio account, purchase a phone number for your bot (make sure that it supports sending/receiving SMS for the required country) and copy/paste account SID and Auth token from your Twilio Dashboard. As soon as connection is established, you will be able to import existing list of phone numbers. Please note that Activechat will trigger “import” system event for each imported number immediately, so you can add TEXT block to that skill with an initial greeting to your users to start some SMS conversations immediately. Please check the manual for a more detailed explanation.

Our custom website chat widget will be available in early 2019. Meanwhile, you can use Facebook Chat Widget plugin to install the bot directly on your website or use Landing Page grow tool to send traffic to your bot. Please check the manual for a more detailed explanation.

Buttons can be attached to TEXT, IMAGE or GALLERY blocks and can trigger events, start other blocks or contain external links. Also, there is a special “Share” button that allows bot user to share the message that the button is attached to with his/her contacts. Facebook Messenger has a limit of 3 buttons for any block. Quick replies are attached to LISTEN block and provide ready-made templates for messages that user can send back to the bot. They are not attached to any specific message and appear floating in the lower part of Messenger screen. They can also trigger other blocks, and there are special types of quick replies that allow users to share their phone numbers, emails or locations with the bot. Please check the manual for a more detailed explanation.

Yes. Please go to “Settings – Stats” to see the total number of users and daily/weekly/monthly growth charts.

Each block that you have in your bot is executed in real time, and sometimes things can go wrong due to various reasons – for example, you can be dividing by zero in DATA block, get wrong API replies in JSON block or encounter some issues in your e-commerce integration. In this case normal conversation flow will be interrupted, and control will be given to the blocks connected to “ERROR” exit. SO, generally it’s a good practice to connect at least a single “TEXT” block there to display $_last_error system variable to help you debug the issue. Keep in mind that if you do not have anything connected to “ERROR” block exit, in case of any errors the flow will just break silently.

Using the chatbot builder

LISTEN block is used to get specific input from bot users. It is different from the “default” event in a couple of ways – primarily due to the ability to add quick replies and save user input into specific bot variables (“default” skill when triggered always saves user message into the $_last_user_input system variable). Note that “default” event will not be triggered if you have LISTEN block active at the given moment. If you add quick replies to that block, each quick reply can be connected to another block with a line exactly the same way as with buttons, and connected block will get control when user selects this reply. If user selects quick reply that is not connected to another block or does not press any of quick replies at all, sending keyboard or voice input, control will be given to the block that is connected to the “default” exit at the bottom of the block. And if you don’t have anything connected to this exit, “default” event will be triggered. Please note that LISTEN block should follow some message that your bot is sending to user, thus it can be connected only to TEXT, IMAGE or GALLERY blocks.

Broadcasting feature in Activechat lets you manually trigger specific skill for a certain segment of your users. This is better than sending one-off messages, since it allows you to build complex interactions based on user feedback to your broadcast. To make a broadcast, (1) create a skill in your bot (for example, “broadcast1”, (2) populate this skill with blocks (this can be a single text block with buttons for one-off message or a complex interaction with LISTEN and SWITCH blocks for more complex tasks), (3) build new bot version clicking RUN button and (4) go to “Settings – Broadcasts” and send your broadcast immediately or schedule it for a later time. Please check the manual for a more detailed explanation.

Native Zapier integration with triggers, actions and searches is currently in the works and will be available in early 2019. Currently you can use JSON block to trigger Zaps with a “Webhooks by Zapier” endpoint, sending data from the bot in the request payload. Please check the manual for a more detailed explanation and an example.

Use EMAIL block, filling the “SEND TO”, “SUBJECT” and “MESSAGE” fields. Keep in mind that you can use bot variables in these fields. All mail is sent from [email protected] address, and we’ll be adding custom mail server option soon, allowing you to send mail from any address that you own. Please check the manual for a more detailed explanation.

There is a couple of options available for this. First, you can handle all user interactions in the “default” bot skill that is triggered each time the user send something to the bot, checking $_last_user_input system variable for a specific keywords. Some examples can be found in “Restaurant” and “Gym/fitness” chatbot templates that we have. Another approach would be using LISTEN block to get user replies to specific bot questions – useful when you collect data for checkout or lead generation, for example. You can combine both approaches, using LISTEN block for local interactions and “default” skill for global queries. And, finally, you can connect NLP engine and send all user input there for intent detection. This way a specific bot skill will be triggered depending on the user input. You can find example of this in the “F.A.Q. chatbot” template. Please check the manual for a more detailed explanation.

Open “Settings – Users” to see complete list of your bot users and explore the history of each conversation. You can sort Users table by clicking in column headers. Please check the manual for a more detailed explanation.

Go to “Settings – Persistent menu” and follow the manual that we have on this. Don’t forget to re-build your bot by clicking RUN button after you make changes to the menu.

Use “Share email” quick reply in LISTEN block. The text on this reply will be replaced with user phone number on Facebook Messenger, but will be kept intact on Telegram. Please check the manual for a more detailed explanation.

Use “Share phone number” quick reply in LISTEN block. The text on this reply will be replaced with user email on Facebook Messenger, but will be kept intact on Telegram. Please check the manual for a more detailed explanation.

Use “Share location” quick reply in LISTEN block. The text on this reply will be replaced with “Send location” on Facebook Messenger, but will be kept intact on Telegram. Please check the manual for a more detailed explanation.

DATA block is used to perform simple math and string operations. Combined with SWITCH block, it can help you arrange repeating tasks. Select bot variable that you’d like to alter in the topmost input field (to the left of the equation sign) and then build an expression from variables and/or constants below. Please check the manual for a more detailed explanation.

TIMER blocks are great for dripping content and making delays in conversation. WAITFOR can be used to wait for a certain amount of time before proceeding (possible use case – checking if the order was paid after the checkout), and TIMER is great to trigger repeating sequences (dripping content, sending reminders etc). Some examples can be found in the “Gym/fitness” template. Please check the manual for a more detailed explanation.

SWITCH block gives you the power of conditional branching the conversation based on the value of specific bot variables. The simple example would be triggering certain skills based on the keywords that are present in the user input (see examples in “default” skill in “Restaurant” and “Gym/fitness” templates). More complex use cases are almost unlimited – you can check for values from external sources, check bot variables etc. Simple expressions can be combined into complex ones with logical operations, and if none of the cases is met, control will be given to default exit at the bottom of the block. See example in “challenge_done” skill in “Gym/fitness” template and check the manuals for a more detailed explanation.

DON’T PANIC! First of all, make sure your bot is connected to at least one messenger channel and the latest version is deployed with RUN button. Next, issue “/start” command to see your starting sequence. Then make sure you have TEXT block with $_last_error connected to every block with “ERROR” button in it to make sure you do not have “silent breaks” and re-run the bot to see if there are any errors triggered. Check URLs that you may have in your buttons – Facebook Messenger will silently drop the block if URL is incorrect. If nothing helps, ask live chat support for help – we’ll check system logs to let you know what exactly went wrong.

Plans and pricing

Yes. It has everything except e-commerce, user history and broadcasts, and free bots have a limit of 500 monthly active users (MAUs).

You can have up to 100 bots in one account (contact us if you need more and we’ll change this limit for you). Each bot is on its own plan, so you can have a mix of free and paid bots in one account.

Starter ($19 monthly) does not have e-commerce integrations, multiple messengers connectivity and has a lower limit of MAUs (1,000). Architect is our most popular plan with up to 5,000 monthly active users and a complete set of platform features.

MAU stands for the number of Monthly Active Users. User is considered to be active if he or she sent at least one message, clicked one button or sent one quick reply to your bot in the current billing period (month).

That’s great – your bot is popular, and people keep talking to it! When you hit the limit of MAUs, we’ll send you a notification and charge you extra amount at the end of the current billing period. The amount will depend on the number of extra users that you have (from $0.02 per user on Starter plan to as low as $0.005 per user on Agency plan).

E-commerce chatbots

There is one big problem with every online store – it’s static. It’s like a brick-and-mortar store with no salespersons in it. E-commerce chatbots help to set it live and get more sales and happier customers. You can talk to store visitors, engage with your customers, help them find what they need and increase sales and general customer satisfaction. According to recent Facebook study, 83% of customers are more likely to buy from a business they can message, and chatbots help you automate these conversations, reducing support costs and providing better customer experiences.

With Shopify integration you can put your whole store inventory into the bot in a couple of mouse clicks and keep your users updated about their orders. Our native Shopify app is currently in review and will go live in early 2019, and meanwhile you can use private app to connect your store to the bot. Please check manuals for a more detailed explanation.

With WooCommerce integration you can put your whole store inventory into the bot in a couple of mouse clicks and keep your users updated about their orders. Go to “Settings – Integrations – WooCommerce”, enter your store URL and click “Connect”. If you have NLP service like Dialogflow connected, we will automatically create intents and entities there to help you build great automated customer communication. Please check manuals for a more detailed explanation.

Absolutely. We have complete set of shopping cart blocks that let you build dynamic shopping cart galleries, add items, edit shopping cart content and convert carts to orders. Please check manuals for a more detailed explanation.

Shopping cart is a microservice within Activechat bot platform, allowing you to store independent shopping carts for each of your bot users. You can use built-in building blocks to add items to these carts, edit cart content, clear cart, display carts as dynamic galleries and convert it to actual orders. Please check manuals for a more detailed explanation.

Dynamic gallery is something that only Activechat bot platform has, and it helps you build interactive galleries (“carousels”) in messengers based on the data that you fetch from external sources like e-commerce shops or shopping cart microservice. This is completely automated and does not require any complex programming. You can display product categories, product listings, variations, multiple product images and shopping carts, and customize these galleries with interactive elements (like buttons) easily, right in the Visual Chatbot Builder. Please check manuals for a more detailed explanation.

When you connect your Shopify or WooCommerce store with our native e-commerce chatbot integration, we create system events that are triggered each time order or customer details are updated in your store back-end. You can use these events to start specific skills in your bot to inform your customers about changes in their orders (for example, notify customers when their orders are sent to delivery etc). Also, your shop managers can use this to communicate with the customers automatically through order notes – every new note added to the order can be forwarded to the customer automatically. Please check manuals for a more detailed explanation.

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