Why Hio Switched From Sendbird to Stream Chat to Build Engaged Communities
Seeking a more feature-rich messaging experience than Sendbird could offer, Hio integrated the Stream Chat API into its new website engagement software, called Hovr.
Problem: Hio’s patented site engagement software, Hovr, required a real-time chat solution to drive community engagement. The Hovr team initially integrated Sendbird Chat. But they soon realized they required a more robust messaging solution that included out-of-the-box features such as threads, channels, URL thumbnails, AI moderation, and more.
Strategy: Hovr transitioned from Sendbird to Stream Chat by quickly integrating Stream’s React Native Chat SDK and customized UI kit in just a few days.
Result: Hovr now has a professional-grade, real-time chat solution powering its site engagement software that can reliably scale to support the platform’s anticipated tens of millions of users.
Most brands agree that if they can build an authentic, engaged customer community, they’ll reap many bottom-line benefits, such as reduced acquisition costs, increased user retention, more conversions, and long-term loyalty and trust.
But in order to create a community where users can seamlessly interact with each other, companies face complex technological challenges. Consequently, many brands turn to third-party social media sites such as Facebook or Reddit to host their user communities. According to Jason Craparo, co-founder and CEO of Hio, a software company specializing in helping brands power more engaging site experiences, growing a community on an external platform is a big mistake.
“Brands spend all this time, effort, and money getting people to their website only to then push them over to Facebook to communicate with each other,” he says. “We know conversations about a brand are happening with their customers on other channels and platforms. This time spent talking about your brand should happen on your own website.”
Hio’s new patented software called Hovr enables any website to easily add content delivery and community engagement functionality with just a few lines of code.
The idea is to empower website visitors to communicate in real-time. For example, if integrated into a site that sells concert tickets, users could discuss upcoming performances of their favorite artists. If integrated into, say, a clothing e-commerce site, Hovr could facilitate peer-to-peer conversations about fashion advice, the fit of certain items, and accessorizing tips. Customer service representatives could even staff the community platforms to answer point-of-purchase product questions — radically personalized customer support.
When building Hovr, Craparo knew that a feature-rich live chat was table stakes, as users needed a frictionless way to message each other. Here’s why Stream Chat was the best option for Hovr to build community, grow conversions, and confidently scale.
Switching from Sendbird to Stream Chat
Like many product teams, Craparo and his engineering team faced the decision to either build or buy a chat solution. They briefly considered building chat themselves. But after running the numbers and scoping out the project, they realized that building chat would cost too much and could take over eight months to implement.
“The time-to-market of building chat in-house would take way too long given our resources. Getting a chat solution out of the box made a lot more sense for us,” says Craparo.
After evaluating 15 third-party chat API solutions, Craparo initially chose to integrate with Sendbird based on pricing and the promise of rapid integration. Hio successfully used Sendbird for live chat during in-person networking events. But at the time, Sendbird didn’t support the ability to have threads or channels — vital features that Craparo knew Hovr needed. These capabilities were on Sendbird’s roadmap, but they kept getting pushed back.
As a rapidly evolving company that relied on its component partners for success, this was worrisome.
“We didn’t have confidence that Sendbird could deliver on certain features,” says Craparo. “The more we examined Stream, the more we realized that the Stream Chat API could deliver our needs. Features such as thumbnail URL enrichment, links, images, and AI moderation all come out of the box with Stream.”
Integration in Days
Hovr’s engineering team integrated Stream Chat using the React Native SDK in just several days. They customized Stream’s UI kit to create the exact user experience they wanted — one that optimized engagement.
Craparo says the Stream Chat integration was seamless. “There were no hiccups whatsoever. The integration was straightforward, and everything [our developers] needed was available in the documentation.” The API infrastructure reliably handles Hio’s 40,000 users. Soon, Craparo anticipates Hovr will support tens of millions of users.
Hovr’s developers paired Stream Chat with Algolia to add search functionality. When users interact with Hovr’s technology, they can filter searches based on topic, person, interest, industry, and more. This enables users to find the exact conversation or content they need.
“Stream Chat got us up and running and professional-grade in almost no time. We could look and act big, even though Hovr was just getting out of the gates,” says Craparo of his experience with Stream.
Instant Answers for Instant Purchases
In an age where information is at our fingertips, even a minute waiting for an answer is enough lag time to frustrate today’s site visitors. Live chat — rather than a static message board or email — is the best way to ensure website visitors get the support they need. Whether Hovr is plugged into a high-volume site and answers are provided by a community of other site visitors, or customer service reps staff the channels as an upgrade to traditional customer support; real-time in-app messaging is central to driving new sales and fostering a sense of community.
For instance, Craparo says that a medical device company is considering integrating Hovr into its website platform. While he expects the company to seed FAQ content such as tutorials, testimonials, and product information into different channels, instant answers beget instant purchases. The medical company is exploring connecting doctors with patients via Hovr to facilitate trustworthy conversations as customers are learning about the device.
“If you can answer users' questions now, they might buy now. If you can’t answer their question now, they’ll continue on their online journeys, and they’ll forget about you,” explains Craparo. “With live chat, the moment a user hits ‘send,’ they’ll be able to see someone typing to respond. That’s pretty powerful.”
Explore how Stream Chat can transform your business by activating your free, 30-day Chat trial today.
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