BearHug, a new customer engagement platform, is launching its closed beta tonight. The company wants to make it easier for companies to engage with their customers, while still keeping full control over their data and their users' experience on their site. By offering companies a hosted solution for engaging with their customers and solving customer-service issues, the company is taking on GetSatisfaction and similar services.
BearHug gave us 1000 exclusive invites for our readers. Read on to learn how you can claim yours.
Problem: Most Threads on Online Community Sites Have no Resolution
According to a study the company commissioned from web crawler 80legs, 72% of topic threads on online community sites on the Web have no resolution and less than half of these threads have no employee participation.
Interestingly, when employees do respond, they often just do so to "close" the issue without actually responding to their customers or engaging in the conversation.
As the company's CEO Andy Meadows told us last month, BearHug was born out of Meadows' own dissatisfaction with other online support platforms. The BearHug platform - which is highly customizable - is split into four major parts: Pulse (for live updates), Answers (for discussions and Q&A), FirstRate (for ratings and reviews) and a social media listening platform called Overheard.
Pulse is a Twitter-like service that allows companies to easily post updates about their services to their sites. This service allows a company to quickly inform customers about network outages or similar events, for example. Status updates can also be syndicated to Twitter (though they aren't bound to Twitter's 140 character limit) and a company's customers can opt to receive these updates by email, SMS or through an RSS feed. Just like most other aspects of BearHug, Pulse is highly customizable.
The part of the service that most closely resembles GetSatisfaction is Answers. Here, customers can ask questions and engage with other customers and official company representatives in a forum-like setting.
In addition to these two core apps, BearHug also offers FirstRate, which allows users to post product reviews, and Overheard, which allows companies to aggregate relevant messages from Twitter.
As Meadows told us, one of the main differentiators for the service is the fact that customers retain full ownership of their data. BearHug will soon offer an API that will allow companies to take their data to another service. In addition, BearHug will also work with its customers to create a package with their data in whatever format they need. Meadows also argued that BearHug offers a far less cluttered experience for users and the fact that the service is running under the company's domain name ensures that users will know that this is a company-owned site.
BearHug is available in a free version, which doesn't allow users to add their own branding to the service, as well as in paid versions that range from $19/month to $199/month, depending on the number of active users and products a company wants to support.
If you would like to Give BearHug a try, simply use RWW as the beta key on the sign-up page.