EdTech Enterprise Chooses Stream Over Sendbird To Streamline Communication for Millions of Users
Integrating Stream Chat enabled the EdTech enterprise to launch a new in-app messaging module, CompassConnect. Learn how they accomplished their goal of simplifying user-to-user communication, improving UX, and adding engaging new features.
Challenge: Australia's leading school management software provider, Compass Education, needed to streamline communication for its three million daily active users, including teachers, school staff, parents, and students. But, building an in-house chat solution would be a resource-heavy lift for the enterprise and delay its product roadmap.
Strategy: The team began vetting chat API vendors and narrowed their options to Stream and Sendbird. They tested each solution and found that Stream's React and React Native chat SDKs were scalable, met their required security compliance standards, and offered the robust customer support they needed.
Result: Integrating Stream Chat enabled the EdTech enterprise to launch its new in-app messaging module, CompassConnect. They accomplished their goal of simplifying communication and added engaging new user features, like file-sharing, threaded replies, and group chat channels in the process. They also introduced helpful administrative functionalities like moderation, a holistic permissions dashboard, and GDPR compliance.
About Compass Education
Compass Education is Australia's leading school management software provider. Chief Customer Officer Jerome Muldoon describes the enterprise's mission, "We aim to bring teachers, parents, and students together in the one place for everything school-related." It's no easy feat, and with over two thousand schools and three million daily active users to manage, Muldoon felt that Compass Education could better streamline user-to-user communication.
The Need For An In-App Chat Solution
Compass Education noticed increasing user demand for a more efficient and real-time communication tool, especially as school staff, students, and families navigated the return to the classroom post-COVID.
They needed a platform to enable instant messaging, seamless collaboration, and quick resolution of queries. The company historically relied on email, third-party messengers, and phone calls, which were time-consuming for school staff and teachers and created a disjointed communication flow.
User demand for a native messaging solution only grew as Compass Education expanded operations into multiple countries. Muldoon says, "The need for a scalable, robust, and secure chat solution to enhance our users' experience and facilitate better communication within school communities was apparent." CompassConnect is the culmination of these ideas and requests. With a clear vision to improve the UX in sight, the Compass Education team now needed to solve its dilemma to build vs. buy in-app chat.
Muldoon says, "We started investigating a couple of options. One was building the chat functionality in-house because we have a large development team. But we realized it would impact some of our strategic priorities regarding software development and the time and cost it would take to get to market with an in-house solution."
Evaluating Chat API Providers
With the decision to buy a third-party API made, Compass Education began vetting Stream and alternative chat providers. The company evaluated each API based on its feature-richness, scalability, customization, technical documentation, pricing, security, and customer support. Muldoon and the development team narrowed the field to Stream and Sendbird.
"Our development team did two MVP builds—one with Sendbird and one with Stream. Their feedback was that the Stream SDK was easier to work with; it only took three days to complete. They liked the available functionality and thought it would be the fastest route to market," says Muldoon.
Why Compass Education Chose Stream
Compass Education decided to progress with Stream shortly after the MVP build. Muldoon comments on how Stream Chat stacked up against Compass Education's evaluation criteria.
He says, "Stream Chat offers a wide range of features that enable seamless communication and collaboration among users. It is designed to accommodate the needs of organizations of various sizes and complexities. Its scalability and customization options suit small primary schools and larger, more complex secondary or combined schools."
Muldoon emphasizes how seriously Stream took data privacy and enterprise-grade security. The Compass Education team was assured that the communication powered by Stream Chat within its platform would be secure and compliant with relevant regulations—particularly important, as Compass Education handles sensitive student and parent information.
Muldoon adds, "We manage many personal details for students and have a duty of care to the schools regarding their data. We wanted to ensure that when operating in Ireland and the UK, our chat solution could meet regulatory compliance requirements, like GDPR. The security of data and the ability for us to set the location of data were very important in our decision to use a 3rd party provider. Stream gave us the level of control we wanted and ensured only specific information was passed through chat."
Integrating Stream Chat
Muldoon says, "Integrating Stream Chat with our existing systems was smooth, thanks to its well-documented API and support from its customer success team. This ease of integration allowed us to quickly implement the chat functionality without causing disruptions in our ongoing operations."
Muldoon mentions that Stream's customer success team was instrumental in ensuring a smooth integration. He says they provided timely support, thorough guidance, and prompt resolution of any issues they encountered. Stream proactively checked Compass Education's integration progress and offered assistance as needed, which Muldoon says made them feel valued and well-supported.
Working with Stream's Sales & Support Teams
Our experience with Stream's sales and customer success teams has been outstanding. They provided the necessary guidance and support throughout the implementation process, making it a hassle-free experience.
Muldoon describes his experience with Stream's sales team as, "Absolutely fantastic. From the beginning, the sales team was attentive to our needs, provided detailed information about the chat solution, and helped us understand how it could benefit Compass Education. They were transparent about the pricing and features, which allowed us to make an informed decision."
Compass Education also received enterprise-grade customer support from the start of the relationship. Muldoon adds, "When we did our initial trial phase, we had access to the support team via a private Slack channel and direct access to them for any questions. We could work with someone in our Australian time zone, which was very helpful."
Compass Education found Stream's sales and customer success teams to be knowledgeable, responsive, and committed to helping them achieve their CompassConnect objectives.
Introducing CompassConnect to Schools & Families
Compass Education initiated the pilot phase of rolling out Stream Chat via CompassConnect, onboarding nearly five thousand active users with plans to offer the chat feature to their complete user base by the end of the year. Muldoon says initial customer feedback has been quite positive.
Parents using Compass Education can access CompassConnect directly within the app to initiate a conversation with any of their children's teachers. Teachers can also start one-on-one or group conversations with parents, students, and other school staff, a handy feature when there's an assignment students need to work together remotely.
But Muldoon says the most prominent use case for CompassConnect is parent-based groups. He says, "There can be a lot of committees for parents to join at schools. Generally, the way they'd connect is through WhatsApp." This method required parents and teachers to share their phone numbers to join the groups. But now, CompassConnect lets them quickly connect without revealing personal contact information and helps keep relevant conversations in the app rather than their personal messengers.
Bringing school-related discussions into the Compass Education platform has encouraged user engagement, more productive conversations, a greater sense of community, safe and professional communication, and a smoother flow of information.
Notable Stream Chat Features in CompassConnect
The integration and adoption of Stream Chat have been a massive success for the Compass Education team so far—and some favorites among the feature set have already begun to emerge.
Emailing was the tried and tested method of communication before implementing CompassConnect. Muldoon says, "Parents found it was quite segmented. They might have a conversation on one topic one week and have to search through their emails a month later to find that particular thread." Compass Education streamlined this process with Stream Chat's threaded replies. The ability to respond to a particular thread in their conversations with teachers keeps things accessible and skimmable, and chat participants can view on-topic threads easily from one screen.
Stream Chat's moderation functionality has also positively impacted the quality of conversation within the app.
Muldoon adds, "Working in a school environment, we have a number of students accessing the platform. Stream's chat moderation has been useful, specifically concerning profanity detection, because we want to protect teachers, parents, and students and keep conversations on-topic. Also, teachers can block specific users if they post inappropriate content."
Muldoon also mentions the introduction of CompassConnect has been a game changer for multimedia and file sharing. He said it's common for school staff to message each other and share particular documents if they cover another teacher's class or share documents with parents. CompassConnect also supports group chat, which is very helpful for larger schools.
Compass Education thoughtfully chose and integrated Stream Chat to support its CompassConnect module. It has proven to be a reliable, scalable, and secure messaging solution capable of supporting this EdTech enterprise and improving communication for its extensive user base.
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