Meet the mind behind Chatlio

Connecting companies to customers inside Slack

Our platform launch last December introduced a brand new way for developers to build integrations and apps that reimagine how teams get work done in Slack. Today’s story features one of our earliest developers, John Eberly, who combined years of engineering and consulting experience with a creative idea to bring live chat on company websites directly into Slack teams.

From consulting to developing

John spent many years of his career consulting for clients who had a strong interest in implementing live chat on their sites — to address both pre-sales and post-sales inquiries from visitors. He also noticed that as personal communication became increasingly driven by text messaging, it was only natural that today’s customers started to expect (and prefer) the same kind of immediate response in business communications. John was right. Real-time chat had proven to reduce churn, increase customer satisfaction, and drive conversion rates for businesses across the board.

After working with a variety of clients and observing this shift in customer support, John knew this was a trend he wanted to capitalize on. On top of his consulting work he decided to try to jump ahead of the curve to bridge Slack and site-based live support. Thus, chatlio was born.

Shared goals

John’s vision for Chatlio was clear — thousands of companies chose Slack as their primary messaging tool. These same companies also wanted a simple way to instantly chat with their website visitors and customers. So why force another chat client on employees? “I’m a big fan of leveraging tools that teams already have, like, and use everyday. The obvious choice at the time was, and still is, Slack. That has completely been validated by Slack’s growth over the past two years.”

Plus, chatting with visitors via Slack meant that anyone could jump into a channel and respond to customer inquiries, whether it be an employee on sales, a technical support specialist, or even a product engineer. This level of visibility within an organization and shared responsibility was especially valued by many of Chatlio’s customers (and something we value at Slack).

Real-time matters

It’s been a year and a half since John built the first iteration of Chatlio, and he distinctly remembers how easy it was to get his app up and running. “The API was well documented, structured intuitively, and the response time with the Slack support team was really, really good.”

Slack’s real-time API was particularly important for Chatlio’s use case. It allowed them to build and display “X name is typing…” into the chat widget, offering a minor, but important feature to its users.

As soon as the app was in good shape, John solicited feedback from friends and former co-workers. The response was swift and positive, with testers so enamoured with the concept they even tried putting in their credit card information before the payment system was complete. John recalls telling his teammates, “OK. Let’s speed it up a bit over here. People really want this!”

User growth, revenue growth, and beyond

John was right to rush Chatlio’s development. Since its launch in the App Directory back in January, many customers have abandoned free products to pay for Chatlio’s service. Customers are delighted that this integration is available and often tell John, “I can’t believe this exists. It’s awesome. Our team loves Slack and this type of tool is exactly what we’ve been looking for — an easy way to keep all of our team and customer communication within Slack.”

Even without their overwhelmingly positive customer anecdotes, Chatlio’s metrics speak for themselves. John continued, “The Monday morning we got featured in the App Directory we thought, “What the hell is going on today?!” Since then, signups have more than doubled per month and revenue growth jumped from 15% to 27% per month. The best part is that it’s been steady ever since!”

What’s even more impressive is that the Chatlio team is just two full-time employees and it’s already profitable.

What’s next?

Looking ahead, John’s excited about bringing additional people onto the Chatlio team in the next year. Their top priority is building a new feature called proactive chat — a way for Chatlio to trigger conversations based on website visitor behavior.

And as more enterprise customers adopt Slack, they’re expressing interest in replacing their outdated live chat solutions with tools like Chatlio. John and his team are starting to think about feature development that will best support the enterprise market, like reporting and chat queuing. “Slack’s potential is huge and we’re excited to stick with the company as it continues to grow in the future.”

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