John Huehn, CEO of In The Chat, presenting at the Client Showcase. (Photo by Wayne Simpson)

John Huehn, CEO of In The Chat, presenting at the Client Showcase. (Photo by Wayne Simpson)

John Huehn spent enough time in the customer service game to know that customers don’t like to be on hold.

That’s why he founded In The Chat, whose software lets customers contact companies through social media, chat or texting. It reduces costs for the companies and produces happier customers, he said.

“Consumers in general these days are sick and tired of waiting for customer service on the phone,” said Huehn, the CEO of In the Chat, speaking after presenting at the Waterloo Accelerator Centre Client Showase last week. “Ultimately, we make it possible to give customers the service they want so you make the customer happy while saving money.”

In the Chat is a social sales and service company powered by an advanced text analytics engine that reads, categorizes and delivers social media posts to their clients for action. The text analytics program in the product determines what type of query the client is asking and automatically sends the message to a specialist in the given area. It’s faster and less annoying that asking the customer to push numbers on the phone to get different departments.

Saying this feature makes the solution “entirely scalable”, Huehn said it is 58 percent more efficient to serve a client via text messaging than on the phone, and that In The Chat produces 20 percent savings over call centres.

The solution also includes a sales and service platform enables real-time consumer engagement via social media.

The story of In The Chat dates back to the days when Huehn worked in the call centre of a major Canadian telecom company, working his way up to vice-president. He believed the process of customer services could be improved by using new technology.

Five years ago, he and Chris Howlett, the former CTO in Residence at Communitech, launched In The Chat with the aim of “bringing emerging technologies into the call centre.”

They began with a product that allowed the customer to reach the company through social media, and then as text and chat became more popular with consumers they added new channels.

The company has grown to 21 people but still works out of the Accelerator Centre, where Huehn enjoys being the “old guy” among the young technological whizzes. Huehn declined to say how much money the company has raised, but did say it amounted to millions of dollars and includes investment from the Angel One Investor Network.

In The Chat has more than 10 enterprise clients and has produced significant double-digit annual revenue growth each year it’s been in operation.

Huehn expects the growth to continue because humanity continues to find new ways to communicate – from mail to telegraph to phone to email to social media to text to chat. And each advance keeps coming more quickly than the last.

“There will only be more channels that come along and they’re coming faster,” he said. “Companies will need a platform like ours that makes it easier for people to contact them.”