March 11, 2013, 4:35 PM

Live chat enters the mobile realm

Hachisoft, an app developer, uses chat technology to aid customers and improve its apps.

Lead Photo

Hachisoft highlights mobile live chat in its promotional materials.

Hachisoft Corp., a developer and seller of sports, educational and productivity iOS and Android apps, wants all of its customers to be happy: Happy customers write positive reviews in the app stores, and positive reviews help sell apps. The company decided customer service within its apps was key and last year became an early adopter of mobile live chat technology from vendor Hipmob.

Hachisoft sells 11 mobile apps, including the sports-themed Baseball Bullpen, Basketball Shot Chart and Basketball Stat Tracker, and the children’s educational Hand Painted Animals and Hand Painted Machinery. It integrated live chat into its smartphone and tablet apps and immediately began receiving chat requests. Buttons marked Live Chat can be found in the Help and Tutorial areas of apps.

All Hachisoft developers have Hipmob client software installed on their desktop PCs and some developers have it on their smartphones. When a chat request comes in, the first developer to claim it begins a chat. If a chat leads into territory that is more suited to another developer, a chat can be transferred from one staff member to another. If a chat request comes in the middle of the night and everyone at Hachisoft is asleep, the request is routed to a queue where developers can pick it up the following morning. The developer types a response and it’s stored as a message that is automatically displayed the next time the consumer enters live chat.

“We are never being intrusive,” says Tyler Edwards, president of Hachisoft. “People initiate chat with us. We don’t initiate chat with them. And even with messages, a message is stored until the person is going to live chat again. People are looking for our interaction.”

Edwards says the goal of live chat is to get customers past any hurdles they may encounter, and to use live chat sessions and feedback to improve the company’s apps so that reviews in app stores are as positive as possible.

“A typical chat lasts a couple of minutes,” he says. “But we also get ones where people are providing suggestions and they might last 20-30 minutes. We’ve had people who would like to see certain things and are a lot more in-depth and in detail, and those chats are pretty handy. We’ve done more tutorial type content as a result of some of these longer chats.”

Edwards declines to reveal what he pays Hipmob for its mobile live chat technology. Hipmob says it charges between $10 and $64 per month, depending on the level of integration required.

The payoff for Hachisoft has been good reviews and high star ratings, Edwards says.

“Someone providing negative feedback hurts you immediately,” he says. “It’s hard enough just to get out there without people getting frustrated with your app. We’ve gotten good feedback. With chat people just push a button and we respond. They don’t have to create an account. They don’t have to give their e-mail address. It lets us address problems and questions, and people like that we are responsive.”

For example, the company’s Basketball Shot Chart app has earned 4 out of 5 stars in Apple Inc.’s App Store, and its Hand Painted Animals has earned 5 out of 5 stars. Edwards says getting higher ratings for products after integrating live chat is the return on investment. “People look at your app and say, ‘This one has a lot of 5-star reviews.’ That makes a difference,” he says. “There’s a direct correlation to your bottom line.”

Overall, Edwards says live chat technology is a good fit in the mobile realm. “It’s immediate, like mobile,” he says. “You can address customers’ concerns in the moment.”

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