Use Chat to Enable In App Help

One-to-one and one-to-many chat is often used for free-form communications between people or small teams. However, for many scenarios, chat is used to accomplish a specific goal. Giving users the ability to ask for help is one example of using chat in this way. By adding chat to the app and enabling it in the right context, users can benefit with a more seamless experience that keeps them moving and drives engagement. Users communicate with other users in a way that is natural, and helps them complete something without needing to open a different app, launch a browser or make a call. Everything happens within the focus of your app.

Let’s look at a few examples to get a better sense for how this might work in practice. A user in an ecommerce app or marketplace app may need to ask a vendor a question about an item. This can be as simple as “Do you have this item in a larger size” or “can I get this with 2 day shipping?”. In a field service scenario, a technician may be unfamiliar with a particular model of equipment and may need to request help from one of his colleagues. “Has anyone replaced a gasket on a XP902 pump?” In a retail store app, a sales associate may review the staffing schedule for the next week and wish to change shifts with another person. “Can you take my shift on Thursday at 2PM?”

For these scenarios to work well, chat should be added in a way that feels natural, inside the app. Consider ways to make the scenarios simpler for the user. Don’t just add chat to the top level. Don’t force users to navigate through menus to access chat functionality in some other section of the app. Instead, consider embedding chat in the user flow as an option within the current view.

When it comes to addressing a message, consider how best to address a message to one or more recipients. Long contact lists are unwieldy on mobile. For more contextual scenarios in which a user is asking for help, the developer often knows who the intended recipient or recipients are. Remove steps associated with searching for contacts and addressing messages where possible and where it makes sense for your app. Removing these steps for the sender simplifies the experience and improves usability. In our example of the marketplace app, the chat would be a one-to-one chat between the buyer and the vendor. Since the app knows who the vendor is based upon information in the item listing, the request for help can be automatically addressed to this person. In the field service scenario, we might leverage profile data such as skills or geographic location associated with our field technicians. Rather than send out the message to all technicians, the message might be addressed to a subset who are in the area and who are also familiar with the XP902 pump. In the case of a specific job ticket, the developer may already have details to address the message to the right people. If not, the developer might use a simple drop down menu to address the message to a “category” that maps to a table of users and skills within the app. The goal here is to minimize complexity for the user of the app. Finally, in the retail app example, the chat can be addressed to a specific associate who appears on the staffing schedule in a given time slot. This could be presented as a simple one-to-one chat interaction much like the marketplace example.

By thinking about ways to let users ask for help inside your app, you can enable many scenarios that go beyond ad hoc chat. These scenarios range from the very simple to the more sophisticated and contextual. Magnet Message provides an easy way for you to embed this powerful capability within your app without needing to design and implement complex code required to reliably send and receive messages between users. The Magnet Message SDK for either Android or iOS works in conjunction with the Magnet Message server deployed locally or on the cloud. Magnet provides easy APIs and step-by-step guides for iOS and Android to walk you through the process so you can add this capability with just a few lines of code. We give developers the right hooks including the ability to register users, query users, create messages, send messages, and confirm delivery and read status. We built in reliability mechanisms like offline message queuing, wakeup when offline and delivery confirmations so messaging works consistently for users of your app.

Take a closer look at your current app and see if it can be improved by adding the ability to ask for help inside your app. If you are building a new app and are integrating Magnet Message to enable this capability, we’d love to hear from you on our Forum.