April 3, 2001, 12:00 AM

Don’t rely on technology alone to boost sales, experts say

Good, old-fashioned customer interaction is at least as important as technology in creating additional sales, experts say.

E-retailers and vendors have been paying much attention lately to the necessity to speed the download of information to consumers. But in their haste to adopt a technology solution, they shouldn’t overlook the ongoing requirement to send relevant information to shoppers, some experts urge. "The bigger gap is in deploying the right kind of content, rather than making sure you can get content down the pipe to users quickly," says Keith Taylor, senior manager in KPMG Consulting Inc.’s CRM practice. "Very few have put the effort into providing one-to-one personalization and are instead focusing on these types of quick fixes like getting the content to the consumer quicker." In fact, a recent study at Harvard University concluded that socially intelligent personalization in an e-commerce context increased purchase likelihood by 49% and re-purchase likelihood by more than 67%. "If you’re not having the right conversation with the customer you don’t get the transaction anyway," Taylor says.

Socially intelligent agents that greet customers, remember social information, use data to engage the customer and adapt to user preferences over time, are proven to be effective in increasing sales and customer loyalty, achieving the same results as a company`s most effective marketing, sales and support team, says Sanford University Communication Professor Byron Reeves. In beta tests with socially intelligent agents developed by Finali Corp., online customers added more items to their carts, revealed more information about themselves, and were increasingly responsive to up-sells and cross-sells.

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