Why We Built Leapchat — Customer Service via Facebook Messenger
What would you do with 8 weeks of free time? Travel? Write a book maybe? I’m sure you wouldn’t want to spend it waiting on hold, but that is exactly what we are all doing. It is estimated that the average person spends 43 days waiting on hold during their lifetime, which equates to more than 8 weeks holidays.
With our new product Leapchat, we are aiming to help businesses make such an abjectly awful customer experience a thing of the past. Leapchat is a SaaS product that enables businesses to offer customer support via Facebook Messenger. This means you, as a customer, can send a message directly to a company’s customer service team from within Messenger and get a push notification when they respond. That means no more waiting on hold.
So why did we start working on customer service messaging software?
Sometimes having a Bad Experience is a Great Experience.
Last year our CEO Ranga was all set to make a trip home to India, but he needed to unlock his phone in order to use a local sim when he got there. He contacted Vodafone via web chat on his iPad and was most of the way through the unlocking process, when his browser refreshed and he lost contact with the agent. He immediately reconnected to the web chat, but found that he was talking to another agent who had no record of his prior messages. He had to start the whole process again from scratch. A very frustrating experience for Ranga and a complete waste of time and money for Vodafone.
User Experience on Web Chat on Mobile Devices is Poor
This experience planted a seed and on Ranga’s return from India we gradually found ourselves spending more and more time researching and thinking about web chat. We quickly identified that web chat on mobile offered very poor user experience for reasons like:
- Incoming calls take precedence over chat and an unresponsive chat will be terminated
- There is no way for users to retain chat history other than receiving it via email
- Users have to wait for an agent to become available or they are redirected to email
- Follow up queries have to be dealt with via a second channel like email or phone
- The user interface of most web chat services on mobile devices is clunky at best (check out these examples from Amazon’s Audible mobile website)
As time went on we discovered many more challenges for both consumers and businesses, but yet Web Chat had the highest customer service satisfaction rating (73%) of any channel (44% for phone). So despite the problems, it was clear customers wanted to communicate via messages.
The Wrong Way is sometimes the Right Way
Our first solution to this problem was to create our own messaging app, specifically designed for customer service. We were amazed at the enthusiastic response we received when sending out a very simple brochure and email to prospective customers, especially when it became apparent businesses would happily pay for such a service.
We actually started and pretty much finished developing the first version of the iOS app, while getting regular feedback from large consumer facing businesses in Ireland on our backend software. But the reality was that building our own app (iOS and Android), while also developing an enterprise backend was extremely challenging for a small team (that’s another blog post). And there was also the chicken and egg challenge we faced in getting businesses to sign up to and pay to be on an app with no users. So when Facebook opened the Messenger API in April 2016 we didn’t hesitate in re-purposing our backend to work with an app with nearly 1 billion users.
Inadvertently this has put us in a great position, as we have developed one of the first enterprise backends specifically designed to work with messaging apps just at the right time.
Using Leapchat to provide customer service via Facebook Messenger creates the opportunity for businesses to set a new paradigm in customer service. Some of the many benefits include:
- Great mobile experience
- Chat history always available to both parties and it is possible to reconnect for follow ups
- Easily send images of products and links to tutorials
- Send segmented group notifications (e.g. your broadband will be down due to maintenance)
- Address complaints via private one-to-one messages, rather than via social media
- Huge potential to increase self serve options through links and bots
So sometimes going in the wrong direction is the quickest way to get to the right place!