LiveNinja Combines Chat and Messaging in a Hybrid Product

Messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and WeChat are becoming increasingly popular among consumers, and as the platforms introduce tools for companies, they are also becoming a route for customer support. Live chat has become quite popular as well, with companies deploying proprietary chat or implementing chat solutions from vendors such as Zendesk. But messaging apps and live chat tools have limitations from a customer service standpoint. That's why newcomer LiveNinja just secured $2 million to continue developing a hybrid tool that brings together the best of both.

"The problem with messaging apps is that they are very closed off," says Will Weinraub, CEO of LiveNinja CEO. "The customer might start on the site, but then has to go to Facebook for support via messenger. There's also the added layer of who owns the data. If a conversation happens in the Facebook environment, that data [is Facebook's]." Live chat has its problems as well—for example, once a conversation is over, customers can't pick up where they left off as they would be able to in a messaging app environment. "It's very fragmented and detached," Weinraub says.  

LiveNinja eliminates both problems through an embeddable messaging app. Conversations are deployed through a short-link that customers can access through any channel, or an iOS app that businesses can use. The technology integrates with Twitter, Facebook, and other messaging networks and also ties into companies' CRM systems. "We can export the data from the chat and add it to the CRM system so that company reps can have a full record of the interaction," Weinbraub explains. LiveNinja is also working on integrations with other customer service technology vendors to build out a more cross-channel experience that ensures continuity beyond chat and messaging.

LiveNinja's funding comes on the heels of Facebook’s introduction of chat bots, which promise to automate some aspects of customer service. And though Weinraub says he's "bullish" about the future of chat bots, he says they're still "too new" to fully rely on. Chat bots might be a viable solution for early interactions with customers, the same way that an automated operator at a call center initially directs calls, but human interactions will still be required beyond that. Weinraub predicts that in the near future, companies will need to rely on hybrid support models—ones that not only leverage the strengths of both messaging and live chat, but also both artificial intelligence and human interactions.

"Brands are not yet fully confident in chat bots. The likeliest scenario is that chat bots can provide support for very basic issues or serve as a [routing tool] for more complex problems, helping customers until they can be handed off to a representative," Weinraub says.

As for what the company plans to do with the additional funding, Weinraub says LiveNinja will continue to build out the product to strengthen integrations and develop new functionality. "There's a lot that we're working on," he says.


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