Using text chat to provide customer service is a pretty standard tool on the web, but when it comes to mobile apps, these chats are still very rare, despite the fact that a lot of online commerce has already moved to mobile. The Y Combinator-backed Hipmob, which offers these chat features and integration with standard IM clients and CRM tools as a service, hopes to become the “premier support service for mobile,” as the company’s co-founder Ayo Omojola told me earlier this week.
As Omojola noted, there are plenty of tools like Olark and Zendesk for providing similar services on the web, but the mobile market remains underserved. According to Omojola, a tool like Hipmob works especially well in situations when a vendor is selling a product that gets consumed offline. Hipmob, for example, is currently working with a taxi app in Mexico and a number of online ecommerce companies. In these situations, talking to a customer as quickly as possible matters, Omojola noted.
Hipmob works with virtually every XMPP-compatible chat client and the company is also working on building its own chat service. It also integrates with Salesforce.com, Desk.com and Highrise, as well as Campfire and HipChat. After every conversation on the service, the tool automatically uploads a transcript to any of these CRM tools. Integrating the service into a mobile app, Omojola said, should take an experienced developer less than an hour and the overhead is under 350 kilobytes.
From the user’s perspective, the service mimics the native chat clients on iOS and Android. To get started, users simply click the ‘chat’ button in the app and get started. One nifty feature the team built into the service is the ability to pick up chats outside of the app by using push notifications. This should come especially handy when the app crashes, for example, or when vendors want to contact a user after the original chat is over. Hipmob also offers the ability to send audio messages and images to document a problem.
Overall, Omojola believes, this is still a very young market and he hopes that his company can lead the way on offering mobile support. Nobody, he argues, has “invented a full mobile support desk yet.”
Hipmob charges $25 per seat for up to one agent and 500 chats per month, but without the CRM integration, as well as pricier plans with full CRM support.