Huckleberry, a new start-up based in Waterloo, Ont., recently launched a live-chat alternative called Ping.

Ping works by allowing website visitors to “ping a message” directly to the owner of a website. The company says real estate agents, local restaurants and contractors such as lawn-care companies all rely on either contact forms or live chat as a method for web visitors to contact them. The problem with contact forms, Huckleberry says, is they do not satisfy the immediacy of a potential customer’s inquiry and some people don’t want to fill out information to avoid landing on a mailing list.

With live chat, the company says in a news release, “several trends emerged as painfully common. For instance, unless the business was staffed to be online all of the time, live chat boxes were often deserted or the web visitor would get an automatic response saying. ‘We are not online right now, but here, fill out this form’. Also, live chats are relying heavily on bots, which have become a frustration for customers that want to ask straight questions and get straight answers.”

Huckleberry says Ping is different because it travels as a text message, “so the owner is essentially always online and able to respond in a more timely and more human way. Even if the web visitor is no longer on the site, the owner still has a channel through which they can answer the visitor’s question,” the company says.

Dragos Rotaru, CTO and co-founder of Huckleberry, says the company has had “a terrific response so far”.


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