Earlier this week, OutboundEngine announced the acquisition of ReadyChat, a Toronto-based provider of automated live chat for real estate websites. While the acquisition closed over a year ago, we chose to keep it quiet until we integrated their technology into our platform. Now that we’ve made the acquisition public, we can talk about why we made the deal and what it means for each company, their customers, and employees.
Chat Builds Stronger Customer Relationships
At OutboundEngine, our mission is to help businesses grow by making online marketing simple and easy for everyone. We do that with a focus on a couple of key things: strengthening relationships with people you already know and a done-for-you approach that automates tasks our customers don’t have the time to do themselves. Chat in general addresses the first, and ReadyChat specifically addresses the second.
When visitors arrive at your website, they know you. It could be a happy customer looking to have a question answered, a referral from your biggest advocate or a brand-new prospect who just heard about you. Once they’re on your website, a relationship starts, and it’s up to you to nurture it. Live chat is one of the best tools a site owner has to do that. It’s immediate, highly personal and consistent with how people expect to communicate in the modern era.
From our earliest days as an email marketing service, OutboundEngine has always been all about fostering authentic, helpful interactions between a business and its customers and using those interactions to build the trust and sense of connection that drives sales. Live chat sticks closely to that path and takes it a step further into true one-on-one conversations, and that’s why we think it’s a natural fit for OutboundEngine.
But those one-on-one interactions require an enormous amount of time and effort to support. The web’s biggest sites have conditioned consumers to expect chat agents to be available during business hours, if not 24/7, and that’s a standard most business owners struggle to meet.
ReadyChat has solved that for real estate agents by creating a done-for-you chat service that gives brokers and agents an always-on, branded chat widget that proactively engages visitors and makes sure their needs are met. Sales leads are identified and routed to the right person. And the same goes for customer service issues. Every visitor gets a positive interaction that follows guidelines established by the site owner, and the site owner doesn’t have to be on call to respond to chats all day long.
Chat builds relationships, and ReadyChat automates the process so business owners can focus on what they do best. It checks both of the boxes that every OutboundEngine product needs to. There couldn’t be a more natural fit for us.
Every Business Deserves Great Live Chat
We’ve always been fond of saying that every business deserves marketing automation — that a business shouldn’t have to commit huge amounts of money or time to managing a complex marketing automation platform. The same goes for chat. ReadyChat has historically focused on real estate, which we happen to have pretty deep expertise in as well. With over 10,000 customers, OutboundEngine’s scale will allow us to bring ReadyChat to more real estate agents than ever before and simultaneously expand ReadyChat into the other industries that we already serve, starting with mortgage lending.
We’re also going to work to make the ReadyChat platform better than ever. With the full weight of OutboundEngine’s product and engineering team, we can add some great features to ReadyChat. Our roadmap calls for making it easier for customers to track and manage their chats, building integrations with other tools, and broadening the types of questions we can address via chat.
The integration piece is particularly exciting: There’s an entire ecosystem of other technology providers for things like websites and CRM that our customers are already using, and by partnering with those companies and building stronger integrations, we can make ReadyChat even easier for customers to adopt. We’re also looking forward to exploring the capabilities that artificial intelligence and chatbots can bring to ReadyChat.
Customers, Team and Brand
If you’re a ReadyChat customer or corporate partner, welcome! The product enhancements I outlined above will be released over the coming weeks and months. In the meantime, your ReadyChat experience will feel pretty familiar, though your bills will now say OutboundEngine and be charged in USD regardless of where you live. (Don’t worry, you’ll receive an email with more details about this if you’re affected.)
Many of you have developed relationships with ReadyChat CEO Justin Shum, COO Ali Zandi, and the chat team leads. They’ve built an amazing company, and they’ll all still be around: Justin is moving into an advisory role, and Ali and the team leads are going to continue their great work. But you now have OutboundEngine’s Customer Success and Operations teams on your side as well. We’re proud of our reputation for going above and beyond for our customers and are excited to show ReadyChat customers that same level of service.
For now, ReadyChat will continue to be a stand-alone product with its own team and identity. We’ve even updated ReadyChat’s look to make it speak the same language as OutboundEngine’s recently released visual identity. We appreciate the unique brands that each company has built and are carrying on their traditions while giving them some common themes, so everyone knows we’re all part of the same family.
That’s all there is to it. We think chat is a great fit for OutboundEngine and that ReadyChat has done a better job than anyone of making it simple and easy for business owners to have real, live chat on their websites. We’re excited to welcome them to the OutboundEngine family and looking forward to building on the impressive product the ReadyChat team has already built. Lastly, we’re going to make sure ReadyChat customers continue to get the experience they’re used to — and more.