August 7, 2003, 12:00 AM

How live chat helps Sales Online’s auction customers

With hundreds of auctions going on simultaneously, bidders in Sales Online Direct’s Rotman Auction division were often out of luck if they wanted to ask an auction manager a question before bidding. Now they get through with a new live-chat feature.

Kurt Peters

Executive Editor

 

With hundreds of auctions going on simultaneously, bidders in Sales Online Direct’s Rotman Auction division were often out of luck if they wanted to ask an auction manager a question while the auction was still live. Now inquisitive bidders get through immediately with a new live-chat feature that automatically routes their questions to the appropriate manager. Sales Online expects the feature to increase revenue as more bidders get the information they need in time to place a bid.

Rotman Auction hosts thousands of auctions of collectibles and memorabilia each month on eBay.com. But its scale of operation has made it difficult to communicate directly with bidders, many of whom want more product details before placing a bid. In an attempt to keep up with bidders’ questions, Rotman channeled e-mail messages through a central address, requiring a staff person to forward each message to the appropriate auction manager. But with hundreds of simultaneous auctions generating large volumes of e-mail, an auction manager often received questions after the auction was closed.

Now with a live chat feature developed by Online Sales, a bidder can click on a Live Help button found in each auction listing to open an instant-dialogue box and engage in a live-chat session with the appropriate auction manager.

"Customers who have used live Help are appreciative of our efforts to answer their questions immediately while an auction is still in progress, rather than having to check back later for an e-mail response," said Jeff McNeal, Sales OnLine Direct`s online sports auction specialist. "As customers become more familiar with the service, we anticipate it may lead to increased revenues because prospective buyers will have all the information they need at their fingertips."

 

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