Atera, which makes a joint Remote Monitoring and Management [RMM] ,Professional Services Automation [PSA] and remote access platform with a single code base, has introduced a new chat feature for improved direct communication between MSPs and their customers.
“There was very strong demand for this,” said Gil Pekelman, Atera’s Chief Executive Officer. “We have a public feature wish list that all our users can vote on, and live chat was at the top of the list.”
Previously, if the customer wanted to contact the MSP over an issue, they had a choice of email or the use of the branded portal that Atera provides to each MSP. Chat is faster than either, and has the additional advantage of being in real-time, but Pekelman said that the advantages it offers are greater than that.
“Chat is the technical term for it, but what it really does is strengthen the connection between the MSP and the customer,” he said. “It improves the relationship between the two. Chat is also a much more personal style of communication than email. Most people write in that the same way that they speak. With email, people tend to look at what they write before sending it, so it’s a more formal type of communication.”
At this stage, the live chat feature just hooks the caller up with a live person.
“At this stage, it’s all just person-to-person chat capability,” Pekelman said. “There is no bot support for Level One calls. That’s something that we are looking at adding to the road map, but it’s a complex issue. The bots need to be very smart. The problem in technical IT support is that the language used to communicate a problem can be very different, so it’s very difficult for the bot algorithms to identify what the product is.”
The chat system is also integrated into the whole Atera help desk system.
“Whether the chat is initiated by the customer, or by the MSP, it lets a ticket easily be opened,” Pekelman indicated. “It also measures the time the support person spends dealing with the chat, and connects to contract and billing.” That would allow the MSP to monetize the chat support in some way, if they wanted to do that.
Pekelman said that the addition of the chat capability is very significant, and that it wasn’t there before simply because it took a long time to create.
“In terms of development time, it was quite a big deal,” he said. “It was always on the road map. It’s something that we released the minute that we could.”
While the chat functionality took a while to arrive, it will soon be upgraded.
“In two weeks, we will release a newer version of the chat that will have the ability to transfer files as well – documents, images and video,” said Gilad Lapid, Head of Product at Atera.