What is an AI SMS chatbot? Exploring the AI texting tools available in 2024

Illustration of a person texting along with a robot icon and a chat box, representing an AI SMS chatbot.

Text messaging has grown increasingly popular as a method of communication between businesses and customers. It’s more convenient than calling and faster than email, so customers may be more likely to reach out if your business offers SMS or social media messaging as communication channels.

As the demand for texting increases, so does the demand on customer service and sales teams that are expected to respond to each text with a highly personalized approach by 71% of customers.

AI SMS chatbots can streamline customer service and sales processes by quickly generating personalized answers. Using AI SMS chatbots in partnership with your team can give agents more time to focus on complex issues while your customers receive personalized responses. And if you take the right steps to train your chatbot, it can provide contextual and personalized responses.

But before you start with your own AI SMS chatbot, it’s important to know the different types that are available, how to use them, and how to get the most out of your SMS chatbot using AI.

What is an AI SMS chatbot?

Chatbots are a common avenue for customer service, especially through your website. They’re automated bots that have specific responses programmed into them or use AI to read and reply to texts without an agent’s oversight. You’ve likely seen them as small chat bubbles in the bottom-right corner of websites asking if you need help.

SMS chatbots are similar to web chat chatbots, but they receive and automatically send messages with phone numbers via SMS without human approval. They’re convenient because you don’t need users to visit your site or download an app; SMS connects directly to their phone’s messaging app.

There are two primary types of texting chatbots: SMS chatbots and AI SMS chatbots.

SMS chatbots

SMS chatbots are tools you program to reply to specific text messages you receive through sales or customer service channels. They respond to specific triggers with predetermined text templates that you provide with some ability to alter or personalize them using custom fields and merge tokens.

For example, you can program the SMS chatbot to reply to messages with “business hours” in them with a message stating your hours of operation. You can also give customers five numbered choices representing a different department, like billing or appointments. When customers reply with the corresponding number, the chatbot sends a message with that specific department’s phone extension.

Illustration of an SMS chatbot conversation.

AI SMS chatbots

An AI SMS chatbot is a tool that uses natural language processing to read text that you prompt it with and generates a response based on the context you provide. AI-generated responses can include direct answers to the text provided or produce a variation of the message you used as a prompt, depending on the type of chatbot you’re using your training data, and your instructions.

For example, you could train your AI SMS chatbot with detailed prompts and information from your business’s knowledge base to answer questions about policies or FAQs automatically outside of business hours. Or, you can use artificial intelligence to extend short message prompts and add specific details like your return policy automatically. AI chatbots can even learn your brand voice and generate replies that align with your brand messaging while crafting unique and personalized replies that are specific to your business.

AI SMS chatbot answering a customer’s question.

Types of AI SMS chatbots

AI SMS chatbots come in a few different types, but they mostly fall into two categories: prebuilt options or configurations you must build yourself. Each has its benefits and downsides, so the right choice for you will depend on your business’s resources and needs.

Out-of-the-box chatbots

If you want to start quickly or don’t want to commit technical resources to creating your own system, you can use a self-contained AI SMS chatbot that works out of the box. These apps will allow you to train your chatbot with your business information and dynamically answer customer messages. They can even run without supervision outside of office hours.

Build your own chatbots

If you want to create a highly personalized AI SMS chatbot on a budget, you can combine a variety of tools and apps to configure a bot you have exceptional control over. You’ll need a business texting service, AI model, and a tool that lets them communicate with each other automatically to begin. However, you can add more integrations to build more complex processes – as long as you can get them to work together.

While out-of-the-box solutions are generally code-free, building your own AI SMS chatbot will often require coding and some technical knowledge to interact with different app APIs. Fortunately, you can use AI to help you create the code you need to make all your apps communicate.

Pros and cons of AI SMS chatbots

Your customer service and sales experiences are crucial to your business’s success. Using a tool like an AI SMS chatbot can help you communicate more quickly, consistently, and effectively. However, depending on your needs, it’s not always the best option.

The benefits of AI SMS chatbots

AI SMS chatbots make communication far easier than sending texts manually every time. Once you set them up, they’ll help you achieve faster resolutions and provide personalized customer service around the clock instead of a pre-configured after-hours away message.

Here’s how they achieve these benefits.

Improved response times

Fast response times are essential for maintaining a high customer satisfaction rating. Customers expect a response to live chats like SMS in less than one minute; if they wait longer, they may decide to go elsewhere or report a bad customer experience.

AI SMS chatbots help improve response times by instantly generating replies to incoming messages that can be sent through a connected business texting platform or API. You can set them up to operate outside business hours to maintain shorter response times or answer FAQs to save agents time.


Personalized customer service can be difficult to scale effectively if you have far more customers than agents.

AI SMS chatbots help improve your customer service team’s efficiency by answering basic questions automatically without involving an agent. They’ll have fewer conversations to manage, allowing them to spend more time on complex problems and customer interactions for a better customer experience.

Consistent communication

Consistent tone, branding, and communication styles create a more engaging experience for customers. If your brand has specific identifying characteristics like a quirky tone, communicating differently can confuse customers and leave a bad impression.

You can train your AI model to communicate like an agent and represent your business effectively, which it will maintain throughout all conversations. You can tell it to use business-specific language, provide in-depth or abbreviated replies, take a casual or professional tone, and more.

The negatives of AI SMS chatbots

While AI SMS chatbots can save you time and improve customer service coverage outside of normal business hours, they’re not a perfect communication strategy to rely on.

Here’s how AI chatbots can fall short.

Lacks human touch

Customer service is a human-driven experience. It takes emotional awareness, comprehensive understanding of the question being asked, and clear answers to create a better customer experience that resolves problems and removes roadblocks from sales.

AI SMS chatbots do their best to sound human, but they may struggle to grasp the tone of the customer’s messaging. If it’s a complaint, AI won’t be able to empathize with their concern or frustration to give them the kind of reply they’re expecting, which can hurt customer experiences.

Unverified responses

Customers come to your service and support channels to get answers – and they expect them to be correct. Providing incorrect answers about return policies, shipping information, product details, or payment details is dangerous for your reputation and can easily damage customer relationships.

AI SMS chatbots try to answer correctly, but AI can also make up answers if it doesn’t interpret the question correctly or doesn’t have access to the right information. You can minimize this with good training data, ample training time, rigorous testing, and prompting the bot specifically not to make up answers — but sending incorrect answers can’t be completely ruled out.

Greater training requirements

As a representative of your business, your AI SMS chatbot has to know as much as possible about your products, policies, and communication styles. The better you train it and the better information you give it, the more successful your bot is likely to be at responding to texts.

You can train the AI chatbot with documentation, your knowledge base, FAQs, and information from your website. You should also rigorously test the chatbot and refine the prompts and training data you supply it.

The upside of this is avoiding incorrect answers as mentioned above, but the downside is that this requires substantial time.

Alternatives to AI SMS chatbots

AI SMS chatbots can elevate your communication with automated customer service and sales messaging, but they’re not the only way to improve your communication with AI.

Enterprise AI-assisted texting is an alternative to AI SMS chatbots that combines the speed of AI with the personalized experience of working with your team. It can help you maximize your existing support staff while ensuring accuracy and shortening resolution times. You can use these tools to customize and improve your agents’ responses with AI that formalizes, shortens, spell checks, and even translates the copy they create. For example, you can copy an FAQ response and have the model create an original message tailored to the customer’s message context.

Or, you can generate a response using AI-generated replies from the training you provide the model, like your business hours, refund policy, or product catalog, without significant agent intervention.

Using AI to help your customer service and sales teams scale more effectively saves you time and money while improving customer satisfaction through professional and brand-aligned communication. Plus, it takes minimal setup time and can work with any texting platform or communication channel.

How Heymarket’s AI-assisted texting compares

AI SMS chatbots prioritize speed and range of coverage. They can operate outside usual business hours and create near-instant replies, but their lack of human oversight can create a less personalized experience. AI-assisted texting gives you the best of both worlds.

Heymarket’s AI-assisted texting is human-led and requires final approval from an agent before the message is sent. You don’t have to worry about incorrect information, tone, or misunderstandings; agents can verify all of the information, make corrections, and then send a personalized text. You’ll also spend less time training your model because Heymarket allows you to upload your knowledge base, plus your team’s involvement adds another layer of verification.

AI-assisted SMS also saves time by quickly and consistently drafting, expanding, shortening, formalizing, and aligning the tone of your message in a fraction of the time it would take to write the message yourself to improve scalability and response times.

AI chatbot use cases

Texting is fast and accessible, so it’s the perfect form of communication for all types of customer communications. AI SMS chatbots’ improved efficiency can help you communicate more effectively, reducing the resource investment required to build positive relationships with customers and other contacts in various departments.


The sales process relies on prompt, effective communication to overcome obstacles that could be preventing a sale. Leads who ask questions are constantly evaluating your business, so if you don’t answer them quickly, it could cost you the sale.

You can train an AI chatbot to answer basic questions about products, costs, or policies by providing business information for its reference. You can train it so if it receives a question it can’t answer, it discloses this to the customer and directs them to a live agent to ensure you address their concern quickly and comprehensively.

Customer service

Customers want your agents to acknowledge their problems and then solve them as quickly as possible. If you take a long time to reply to a text inquiry or provide generic responses that aren’t personalized, it can hurt customer satisfaction and impact their trust.

You can train your AI SMS chatbots to learn about your business by supplying them with your knowledge base resources and FAQs. Then, the bot will be able to answer common questions instantly without agent intervention, resolving inquiries faster and helping to scale the performance of your customer service team by reducing the number of conversations they manage.


Recruiting requires a lot of information collection to help qualify your potential candidates. Filtering through hundreds of resumes can take hours, and some may not even pass basic screening requirements, leading to wasted time and resources.

Instead of spending extensive time in job interviews and meetings to learn the candidates’ expected salaries, proficiencies, strengths, and weaknesses, you can use an AI chatbot to ask screening questions and provide answers to simple questions. You can provide it with information about working hours, vacation policies, benefits, sick leave, and other information that potential candidates would want to know without involving a staff member.

How to create an AI SMS chatbot

If you want to have more control over how you can use your AI SMS chatbot, it makes sense to build your own chatbot. You can use a combination of different apps and providers to create a DIY configuration that triggers texts automatically, reads and responds to incoming messages, and sends these generated texts to your contacts.

Here’s how you can start with an AI text chatbot. But if you find yourself looking for a business texting platform, note that many of them offer built-in AI text messaging tools with better training and personalization that involve human agents throughout the communication process.

Choose a texting provider, automation tool, and AI model

You need the right tools to build an AI SMS chatbot. You’ll need a way to receive and send texts, a tool for passing messages to the AI to read and reply to, and an AI model you can train on your business information to give accurate responses.

Heymarket, Zapier, and ChatGPT are all great options for creating your own chatbot because they work well together. Heymarket integrates with Zapier, which integrates with ChatGPT, making it easier for them to communicate and pass messages between your inbox and the AI bot.

Connect your texting and AI apps using automation

If you want to respond to messages from your customers automatically, you need to be able to read them, draft a reply, and send it back via the same SMS channel.

You can create a Zapier automation that looks for certain keywords in incoming texts through Heymarket’s inbox. If it finds one, you’ll trigger your next Zapier automation to update the contact record in Heymarket to log the conversation and then pass the message to ChatGPT so it can read and reply to it.

Once ChatGPT writes the text, another automation will pass the message back to Heymarket, where it will be sent using the texting API.

Teach your AI model how to respond to questions with training

One of the primary benefits of using an AI chatbot is its ability to develop an understanding of your business and create unique answers that reflect how well it understands your procedure, policy, and products. However, you need to equip it with this information if you want your chatbot to be accurate.

AI models learn by training, which involves writing scripts and prompts that the chatbot should reference to guide its communication style and the type of information it provides. When you enter these prompts into a model like ChatGPT, it will learn and remember the information so it can tailor the replies it generates.

Start by outlining the user intent that the bot will be helping with. Tell it whether it’s for customer service, sales, recruiting, or any other niche department so it has context for creating its replies. You should also outline your brand voice, desired tone, message lengths, terminology, and anything else that will make the AI SMS chatbot better represent your business.

Your chatbot also needs to know about your business, so it’s best to prompt the model with your FAQs, knowledge base, business information, products, and any branding details. Past conversations can also help to provide references for how it should communicate in different scenarios based on how human agents have responded.

Test your chatbot and add instructions as needed

After its initial setup, your chatbot will continue to learn with each message it receives. You can train it by starting conversations manually, evaluating its responses, and adjusting the prompt your chatbot uses to create replies. For example, if your AI SMS chatbot is too formal, you can tell it to use a business-casual tone in its replies. Or, if it’s getting too wordy, you can set a character limit to provide more concise answers.

You should also review and evaluate any conversations it can’t handle effectively on its own to see if there is anything your chatbot needs more information or guidance on. Business texting solutions like Heymarket will store conversations, which makes it easy to double-check that your SMS chatbot is a good representative of your business. If it’s not, you can refine its replies by changing the primary prompt or script it references.

How to use enterprise AI tools to respond to texts

AI can help your business communicate more effectively in a variety of ways. While there are AI SMS chatbots that you can create to read and reply to messages automatically, they aren’t the only way to use enterprise AI tools to improve your texting.

AI-assisted texting in a platform like Heymarket combines the time-saving benefits of an AI SMS chatbot with the accuracy and reliability of agent messaging. Instead of spending the time to configure your AI chatbot’s apps, provide it with specific learning data, and tirelessly refine its prompt to create your ideal answers, your team simply gets an AI-powered editor to help craft better responses.

With an AI assistant for business SMS, you can still text customers normally through your business texting application and generate context-aware replies like AI SMS chatbots. However, you can also have the assistant make the tone more casual, expand a quick reply with more in-depth information based on training data, translate texts in other languages, and improve agent grammar to create a more professional and consistent chatting experience.

AI-assisted texting also means your team will have to spend less time on each conversation. Thanks to fast reply generation, you don’t need to type out entire messages in the correct brand voice and with personalization to make contacts feel engaged – the AI assistant will create consistent replies using the AI tool’s understanding of the conversation.

While saving your team’s time, AI-assisted messaging also keeps a human touch at every stage of the communication process. Team members have access to all of these AI productivity tools, making it easy to verify and send each text to ensure they’re the right answer for the customer.

Best practices for using AI chatbots

AI is a tool; and just like all tools, the way you use it decides how effective it will be. If you use it correctly, you’ll be able to improve your communication speed and consistency. But, if you use it incorrectly, you can hurt your customer relationships and lose trust.

While enterprise AI-assisted texting tools have built-in rules to create the most relevant messages, all AI tools can only reference information you provide, so your information quality will determine how accurate your answers are.

AI chatbots can make mistakes, especially if you don’t tell them how to handle questions they don’t have an answer to. You can avoid mistakes by having live agents available to oversee chatbot responses and correct them when needed. Additionally, you should include instructions in your prompts telling the AI not to make up answers. Instead, it should answer that it does not know and direct the customer to a live agent.

You should also constantly evaluate and iterate upon your AI text chatbot as you learn more about where it excels and struggles. You can add more business or product information to give more helpful responses, train it with chat logs from conversations the chatbot couldn’t handle on its own, and adjust the tone it uses based on customer feedback to make conversations more humanlike and engaging.

Build better customer relationships with AI SMS chatbots and AI-assisted texting

Customers expect prompt, comprehensive, and personalized communication. Whether it’s for sales, customer service, or any other form of messaging for your business, artificial intelligence can help.

AI SMS chatbots help you offer 24/7 customer service without additional agents and make each agent capable of more with automated replies. You can choose to make your own configuration that fits your specific needs or work with a pre-built app that makes it easy to begin texting with AI.

During business hours, you can choose an AI-assisted texting feature like the one we offer at Heymarket to make sure you’re providing accurate and on-brand communication without relying on AI to create a polished response automatically each time. It will help you refine the tone, length, complexity, and correctness of your replies in a fraction of the time.

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