Going live Featured

9:45am EDT July 22, 2002

If you are interested in a product, you might search the Web. You find something similar to what you are looking for, but still have several questions, so you send an e-mail to the address on the site.

And wait.

Several days pass, but still no reply. In the meantime, you find a competing product at a local tradeshow and purchase it. What’s happened here? The company that spent so much effort putting together a Web site that’s easy to find and does a good job of selling its product lost a potential sale because of slow response time.

You wouldn’t expect your customers to walk into a retail store and write down questions about your products and wait several days for an answer. The sale would be long gone. The same holds true with your Web site.

Enter live e-tailing from LivePerson. Live e-tailing enables customer service agents to solve problems, answer questions and close sales immediately using real-time dialogue through pop-up windows. You can provide the same level of service on your Web site as many stores do at the retail level. Customers needing assistance simply click on the LivePerson icon.

Operators can either be employed by you, or provided by LivePerson. They are more cost effective than 800-number operators, because online, each operator can handle up to four simultaneous conversations. By talking to your customers one-to-one, you also gain insights into your product design, pricing, customer needs and user expectations.

There is no hardware or software to install; the entire process is through any Web browser. No browser plug-ins are required.

Pricing for LivePerson is a one-time setup fee of $500, plus $250 per month for each operator.

One operator can handle up to 200 to 225 calls per day, so companies should look at the number of phone calls and e-mails they get daily and make a judgment about what they need based on that.

The number of inquiries will be affected by not only the complexity of the product, but also by where the link is placed on the site. Some companies put a link to live help on every page, while others put it only in certain areas of the customer service section to limit questions to only the most serious.

How to reach: LivePerson, www.liveperson.com

Todd Shryock (tshryock@sbnnet.com) is SBN’s special reports editor.