Thinking About Adding SMS to Your Web Chat? Read This First.

Zipwhip Chief Technology Officer James Lapic

What’s a web chat interface? Can you mix live chats with business texting?

Zipwhip’s Chief Technology Officer, James Lapic, sits down to answers four common questions about adding texting to a web chat interface.

Video Transcript:

Keith Hitchcock: Hey, it’s Keith from ZipTV. I had a great chat with James Lapic the other day. I really wanted to get his thoughts about adding texting to a web chat interface. Here’s what he had to say.

Question 1: What’s a web chat interface?

James Lapic: What’s a web chat interface? I think we’ve all been there. You’re sitting on a webpage, or you’re trying to connect with your cable company, and you have a live chat option and you end up popping up the dialogue and connecting to operators now. And then you end up having this conversation and you’d probably get bounced around a lot between different people.

But that’s what I mean by web chat interface. It’s kind of the live chat agent that we’ve been accustomed to the last few years.

Question 2: What is Texting for Business?

James Lapic: Texting for Business. It is the easiest way to get ahold of your customers where they’ll actually respond.

We have some great research that shows, you know, 98% of the messaging on text is read within a few minutes. We also have the greatest network out there for business messaging, so our delivery rates are the highest.

And, really, it’s the way customers want to communicate.

So Zipwhip builds great software to engage with customers over text. We do it over your existing phone number, too, so there’s like a frictionless way to interact with your customers.

Question 3: Why can’t we just add SMS to our web interface?

James Lapic: We get this question a lot around you know, either– It seems very straight forward. “I have a team of people that are already used to managing this. I’ve already invested in some software for web chat. Let me just add SMS.”

And I think you have to look at some of the reasons why they’re looking to add SMS, and they know that web chat has some downfalls and some really break points in the customer experience.

I don’t know if you know this, but one stat I recently heard is about 80% of web chats actually take place on a mobile device.

So, if I’m on a mobile device and the screen locks, or if I navigate away to a different app, in most cases that actually breaks the chat. So, even though it feels like you’re having this real-time conversation, it breaks at any time. And it’s very fragile.

And so, people look to SMS as a way to have this asynchronous, always-on communication with their customer and that way they’ve got this chat history. Unfortunately, the two don’t really meld together very well. This idea of this real-time chat and also this texting is an asynchronous medium.

So, think about how you text with your family and friends and businesses. It’s socially okay to text each other and have an immediate back and forth. It’s also okay to ask for information and expect to get it later.

So, there’s not this box that you’re locked into of having it having to be a real-time chat. It can expand the bounds.

And trying to corral that into something that’s meant for this back and forth is very, very hard to do. It’s hard to get right from an experience perspective.

Question 4: How should my business approach SMS and webchat?

James Lapic: I think that you can leverage a lot of the teams you have that are used to dealing with this. But what you want to have is you want to have an interface, or you want to have texting brought in in a very thoughtful way where you’re actually doing it in the way the customer’s expecting it to work.

It’s the same reason we don’t push and convert text to email and have it go to an email client because that would break the beautiful aspect of texting where you’re having this back and forth and you have the immediacy or not. It’s not in its short format.

On the chat side, it’s actually pretty difficult to meld these two things into one. So, we really do look at —We have an entire suite of software offerings that are built only for texting. They’re perfectly aligned with how texting works from a consumer experience perspective, and we also have the ability for you to take parts of our software and embed it in your existing CRM or your existing tools. And you can also go use these all in concert together.

So, leverage the staff you have that’s really trained to be dealing with customers this kind of way, but use the right tools. Use the tools that are meant to talk the right way for the medium.

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