Firehose Chat Blog


Worried about missing a customer? Firehose Chat has your back

One scary part of adding live chat to your site is the fear of missing a chat from a customer, or appearing online when you're unable to respond and disappointing customers. Firehose Chat provides you with the tools you need to set your availability, get notified of new chats even when you're on the go, and even takes a message for you if all else fails, so customers are always happy. Here's a brief overview of all the tools Firehose Chat provides to help you out.

Specify the times you'd like to be unavailable in Preferences.

DND

Do not disturb is great for the times you know you won't be available to customers. You can set your DND hours in the preference section of the app. Along with set hours, we also offer a toggle switch that allows you to manually trigger DND status. This is especially helpful when you're in a meeting, have to run an errand, or are otherwise unavailable to immediately answer chat messages.

Online/Offline Messages

Outside of your DND hours, you'll always appear online to your website visitors. During this time, customers will see your online messaging, such as "Live Chat" in the header and a welcome message. This is all 100% configurable in the Mac app settings. Don't speak english? You can change all text to be in any language you want.

During DND hours, your offline messaging will show. Customers will be prompted to leave a message with their email address, and those messages will then be forwarded to your email.

Example Offline Messaging

Example Online Messaging

Push Notifications

Push Notifications help you stay in the loop without having to always be at your desk.

There's no need to be tethered to a computer, or even to keep the Firehose Chat app open. If your DND is off, then any time a visitor starts chatting for the first time, you'll get a push notification right to your iPhone, iPad, Android, or Mac. Yes, on your Mac too. It feels just like text messaging.

Answering Machine

There will be times outside of your DND hours where, for one reason or another, you won't be able to answer a chat immediately. If a visitor comes to your site during online hours and sends a chat, our app waits around 30 seconds for you to respond. If no response is sent, a message pops up asking the visitor to leave a message with their email address. If the visitor leaves their email address, all messages left by the visitor will be sent to your mailbox, where you'll be able to continue the conversation. You can think of our answering machine as a safety net, making sure that you don't miss any chats.

We do our darndest to make sure your customers can contact you when it's convenient, and they receive a professional leave-a-message experience when it's not. Give Firehose Chat a shot and let us know how it goes!

Changing How Do Not Disturb Works

As of today, we have made a small change to the semantics of when your chat widget appears as "online" to customers based on your Do Not Disturb (DND) settings. This change will bring behavior more in line with what customers expect DND to mean, and is likely how many already thought it worked in the first place.

Firehose Chat has two concepts of your online-ness: online and available. An agent is considered online if any of their Firehose Chat apps are currently connected. An agent is considered available if they are not currently connected, but their DND is turned off (either manually disabled or as dictated by their hours).

Up until this change, being online has always trumped being available (or unavailable). This meant that if your DND hours were set from 6PM - 8AM, and you opened the app at 7PM, you would suddenly appear online to your customers, even though you were inside your DND hours.

When we launched, we made this decision because we felt that if the app was open, you'd want to talk to customers, period. You could always just close the app to appear as offline.

We've found that this has led to lots of confusion for our customers, and understandably so. Customers expect that being in DND means you're in DND, no matter what. So as of today, July 30th, 2014, this will be the case. Whether an app is currently connected will no longer dictate whether your chat widget appears as "online" to your customers, it will be completely dictated by your DND settings.

We will also be updating our apps to not disturb you with chat notifications while in DND as well.

We appreciate all your feedback! We'll continue to refine your chatting experience.

Announcing our Android Public Beta

We heard everyone loud and clear: you wanted an Android app. We're happy to announce that our Android app is officially on the Google Play store!

It's currently in a "public beta" state. This means that it's quite stable; it has most features from the Mac and iOS apps, but it's still missing a few things, such as viewing visitor attributes, DND controls, etc. This will all be added in short order, but we wanted to get it into the hands of users as soon as possible. Please let us know what you think by popping onto our live chat at firehosechat.com.

It is not currently possible to upgrade to premium through the Android app, but we've just announced our own subscription service that doesn't require a Mac or iOS device. Simple visit https://billing.firehosechat.com/login to log in, choose your plan, and add your credit card.

Lastly, a spoiler: Web app is next!

Introducing Our Own Subscription Billing System

We've been hard at work implementing many of our most common feature requests, and we have lots to announce this week! We're starting it off by announcing our own billing system, outside of in-app purchases. Simply log in at https://billing.firehosechat.com/login to add your credit card and go through the upgrading process.

We found that only allowing upgrades through in-app purchases was a dealbreaker for many companies who needed to use business credit cards that aren't attached to an iTunes account. We're happy to be able to accommodate all customers now! All credit cards and subscriptions are managed by Stripe.

This is one of many improvements we have in store to make Firehose Chat more friendly to your business. Stay tuned!