In this article, we’ll outline messaging capabilities Zendesk offers, as well as the differences between various functionality solutions.
We recommend reading through this document if:
- You are currently using live chat and are considering moving to messaging.
- You are a new Suite customer deciding whether live chat or messaging is right for you.
This article includes the following topics:
Benefits of messaging capabilities with Zendesk
Zendesk's messaging capabilities include a number of benefits and features not available with live chat, described in the table below:
|Provide support wherever your customers are. Connect across web, mobile, and social channels so the conversation is ongoing and the customer never has to repeat themselves.||Web Widget and mobile SDK messaging|
Increase team productivity and efficiency. Messaging comes with a unified agent workspace right out of the box that gives agents the context they need to respond to customers across any channel
|Offer faster & more personalized interactions. Provide 24/7 support for customers with built-in automation for faster service as you scale (no code required) and rich content for more interactive conversations.||Answer Bot and Flow Builder|
|Customize to fit the needs of your business. Create unique experiences for your customers, tailored to the need of your business, with an open and flexible platform that lets you integrate with third party systems, like using specialized bots or connecting to external tools.||Sunshine Conversations (requires additional license)|
To use messaging, your account must have the following:
- One or more Support seats
- One or more paid Chat seats (Chat Lite is not eligible)
- Agent Workspace enabled
The following Zendesk product packages include messaging, or the features required to opt-in to messaging:
- Zendesk Suite
- Zendesk Support + Chat, with Agent Workspace enabled.
If you are already using live chat and are considering moving to messaging, make sure you check out Switching from live chat to messaging.
Conversation persistence: A key difference
For years, Zendesk's live chat has been available for websites and on mobile apps. Live chat lets you add a widget to your website or mobile app to have real-time, session-based conversations.
Messaging allows you to have session-based conversations as well, but also lets you create ongoing persistent chats, automated conversation bots, and more.
Note: Because messaging is a new product, there are some functionality limitations, particularly for larger organizations. See the table below for a detailed breakdown of messaging and live chat features.
Session-based vs. persistent conversations
As outlined above, live chat offers the ability to have session-based conversations, meaning they happen in real-time, and that the conversation history is not saved. A customer initiates a chat with your agent, receives assistance, and ends the chat – it's a single, stand-alone conversation that is not preserved for future reference. The example below shows a live chat conversation, as conducted through the Web Widget (Classic):
Messaging allows you to have both session-based and persistent conversations with your end users. Conversations started during one session can be continued in subsequent sessions, by either the agent or the customer. Information and context from earlier conversations is readily available to both agents and customers.
The example below shows a messaging interaction, conducted through the Web Widget:
Messaging can offer both session-based and persistent conversations because it provides two in-product methods for defining conversation styles:
- Web Widget and Mobile SDK settings allow you to enable conversation history. Enabling conversation history makes the conversation persistent; not enabling conversation history makes the conversation session-based.
- Business rules allow you to create service level agreements (SLAs) for your team to respond back to messages immediately (for session-based conversations), or configure messaging without them so your customers do not expect immediate responses (for persistent conversations).
Messaging and live chat feature comparison
To determine whether messaging or live chat is the right choice, we recommend going through the table below to see which has the functionality you need and, if you're currently using live chat, whether enabling messaging will not disrupt your existing customer experience or workflow.
|Capability||Messaging (Web Widget and mobile SDKs)||Live chat|
|Package requirements||Suite or Support + Chat with Agent Workspace enabled.||Suite or Support + Chat (Agent Workspace not required).|
|Conversation||Real-time (session-based, synchronous) OR ongoing (persistent, asynchronous).||Real-time (session-based, synchronous) only.|
|Channels||Web Widget, Android and iOS SDKs, social channels, out-of-the-box functionality when enabled.||Web, Android, iOS, and Unity SDKs, out-of-the-box functionality when enabled.|
|Bots||Advanced automation using Flow Builder to create custom conversation flows.||Basic automation using Answer Bot article suggestions via the Web Widget (Classic) or third party bots.|
|Rich content||Action buttons created via Flow Builder.||None.|
|Customization capability||Open and flexible platform for customization using Sunshine Conversations (separate license required).||Customization through live chat APIs only.|
|Pre-chat form||Customizable data collection using Flow Builder||Available through Chat dashboard, but not customizable.|
|Security-based restrictions (signed-in vs. anonymous users, for example)||Not available. Conversation experience is the same regardless of restrictions.||Available with minor custom development.|
|Experience differences when agents are online vs. offline||Custom offline message can be implemented using triggers, but are not required.||Yes, when agents are offline, customers complete an offline form.|
Not available. Messaging is considered to be an ongoing conversation. At any time, end-users can open the Web Widget and see all previous conversations. As such there is no need to request a transcript.
|Third party integrations||No||Yes|
|Third-party chatbots||Yes, using Sunshine Conversations (separate license required)||Yes, using APIs|
|Incremental exports||Available using Support Ticket Incremental Export||Available using Chat Incremental Export|
|Vistior metadata (OS, device, platform)||No||Yes|
Migrating from live chat to messaging
Before you enable messaging, make sure to run through the steps below to ensure you’re aware of requirements, capabilities, and limitations, then check out our migration resources to walk you through the process.
Eligibility: You’ve met the eligibility requirements
Feature gaps: You’re aware of and comfortable with current feature gaps and limitations of messaging
Live chat vs messaging: If you’re currently a live chat user, you’re aware of how enabling messaging will impact your systems, including triggers, routing and reporting, as documented here
Migration changes: You have read through the enabling messaging documentation and are aware of how it could change your account
Capabilities: You’re aware of the core capabilities of messaging
Staffing: You have considered how to staff for messaging, and the differences between staffing for live chat vs messaging (for example, live chat allows you to structure your team in shifts and to only provide support when agents are available. With messaging, the customer expectation is always-on service. Therefore, it’s important to think about how you can utilize bots (such as Flow Builder) to offer support when agents aren’t available.