Zendesk advanced bots vs standard bots and answer bot

Zendesk Advanced Bots vs Standard Bots - the difference

[Announcer's voice] 

In the world of customer support, the battle of the bots is underway! It's a new league of bots, each with unique abilities, fighting it out in the arena! 

In today's match, we see Zendesk's Advanced Bot ruffing it out with their very own Standard Bot. In the left corner…

[Normal voice]

Ok, back to reality. Zendesk recently announced an upgrade to their AI capabilities at Relate; they call it Zendesk Advanced AI

Unlike 'Robot Wars', where robots are pitted against each other in a destructive competition, the relationship between Zendesk's Standard Bots and Advanced Bots is more about collaboration and evolution, each contributing its unique strengths to the shared goal.

As the smoke clears, you'll find that it's not about one bot outperforming the other in this arena. Instead, it's about how these bots stack up to form a more effective and efficient customer support system. 

So, let's gear up and delve deeper into understanding how Zendesk bots work.

So what are Standard Bots, and what happened to Answer Bot?

Answer Bot is still here; it's just that Zendesk has renamed its bot capabilities to differentiate them from the new features:

  • Answer Bot is now Zendesk bots
  • Flow Builder became bot builder
  • Article Recommendations are now autoreplies.

So Standard Bots are comprised of the former Answer Bot + Flow Builder. And its capability is the same as before: 

Out-of-the-box conversational-like support across email, messaging, and social media.

They are customisable and encompass two main features:

Autoreplies with articles (previously Article Recommendations)

These allow Standard bots to suggest relevant help centre articles in response to customer queries received via email or web form. This feature connects users to content in Zendesk Guide, enabling them to solve their issues independently.

This feature is available for email and web forms. 

Conversation bots (basically your Answer Bot in a new disguise)

These are customisable bots created using the bot builder (remember, it's the former Flow Builder). They automate conversational support across Zendesk's messaging channels, guiding customers towards resolution. They can vary in complexity, from simple greeting bots to gathering customer data, routing conversations, proactively notifying customers, and more. 

These bots can be deployed across multiple channels – web, mobile, and social – to reach customers effectively.

Then, what are Zendesk Advanced Bots?

Zendesk's Advanced Bots offer an AI-powered upgrade to the customer service experience. These bots come pre-trained with customer intents designed for various industry-specific customer experiences. 

Key features of Advanced Bots include

  1. Automated recognition and classification of requests by intent.
  2. Built-in intent suggestions, which save admins time during setup.
  3. Tagging messaging tickets with intent, providing agents with additional context.

Zendesk AI pre-trained intent

To emphasise this, you can access hundreds of pre-trained intents with Zendesk's Advanced AI - This will make it much easier and faster to deploy. 

Advanced Bots come with the following upgrades compared to the Standard Bots:

Advanced autoreplies

These are automatic responses to customer support requests based on AI predictions about intent, language, and sentiment. Unlike standard autoreplies, which suggest articles from the Guide help centre, these provide custom responses.

Pre-trained conversation bots

In the bot builder for the Standard Bots, you need to define all answers yourself to define intent with your own training phrases. Advanced bots come with pre-trained intents and industry-specific topics developed by Zendesk. These intents are suggested when creating or editing an answer and can be applied easily. Each pre-trained intent can be associated with only one answer, and up to three intents can be added to each answer.

So what's the difference again?

I would say the functionality is comparable; both provide automated support to customers:

  1. Understand what the customer is looking for.
  2. Trying to find a good answer.

However, Zendesk Advanced Bots build on the Standard capability by

predicting intent, language, and sentiment. That allows for more precise, efficient, and customised replies. 

And Advanced AI offers a massive range of pre-trained data, which should reduce the manual work required by admins and managers. 

Should I get Zendesk Bots?

As so often, it depends on your situation. So here are my thoughts on that:

I have Answer Bot already; should I upgrade to Advanced Bots?

If you are already maximising Answer (Standard) Bots and have lots of interactions, this is an excellent chance to improve the resolution rates of bot interactions.

I don't have Answer Bot / Standard Bots; should I get it?

In most circumstances, I would say yes! The requirements are low (Zendesk Suite + Guide with public content), and the benefits can be significant. Try it out. 

And if you need help with that, we can help you with that.

How can I get it?

Zendesk makes Advanced Bots (and their Advanced AI) features available via an add-on. You need to meet the following requirements: 

  1. Zendesk Subscription: Suite Professional plans or higher. 
  2. Industry: Retail, Financial Services, and Software industries (at the moment).
  3. Ticket Volume and language: a certain amount of monthly and most tickets within five main languages. 

Zendesk plans to expand the list of industries, and the requirements might change over time. You can find more details on their landing support page.

Upgrading is not as easy as changing the subscription. It involves a few manual steps. Ultimately, the fastest way right now is to talk to your account manager at Zendesk. They can tell you if you qualify and tell you more about pricing.

What are the limitations of Zendesk Advanced Bots?

Currently, you need to meet specific criteria (see above). 

Also, Zendesk introduced the concept of Monthly Active Users (MAU) pricing, which is very different from the price-per-seat model. 

While the recognition of intent and sentiment is excellent (and Zendesk trained with 18 Billion Tickets!), it won't be a real conversation like with a conversational bot, say ChatGPT. It's not a deal breaker for me because those bots with their language models come with their own risks. And with Zendesk Advanced Bots (and Standard Bots), you have very good control over where the conversation goes.

What are the alternatives to Zendesk Bots?

What alternatives do you have if the pricing or functionality does not meet your requirements?

You can still go with Zendesk and explore their Sunshine Conversations in combination with Advanced AI. That's a whole other topic - too much to cover here. It's worth talking to your account manager about this as well.

If you are open to a third party, you could look into https://www.ultimate.ai/ and https://www.intercom.com/ - both have their integrations to Zendesk and distinctive features.

Disclaimer: I'm not recommending nor endorsing a third party specifically; just mentioning what I've seen in the market.

Where to next?

See you in a few weeks in the next edition of Zendesk Edge 👋🏻


Nils Rebehn

Guidoo Services


Get the edge with Zendesk Edge!

Get our insights, best practice tips and news on Zendesk & the Customer Service industry into your inbox every month.

We treat you and your email-address with respect.