February 24, 2005, 12:00 AM

KitchenAid boosts live chat volume to spark sales

With a new proactive live chat system that offers real-time customer service help based on shopping behavior, the KitchenAid division of Whirlpool Corp. is boosting live chat volume as a way to build sales, it says.

Kurt Peters

Executive Editor

With a new proactive live chat system that offers real-time customer service help based on shopping behavior, the KitchenAid division of Whirlpool Corp. is boosting live chat volume as a way to build sales, it says. “I’m confident this will lead to incremental sales,” a spokesman says.

KitchenAid is using the Timpani Chat service from LivePerson Inc. as its first live chat tool on its consumer web sites KitchenAid.com and ShopKitchenAid.com. The Timpani tool serves as a proactive live chat tool, which means that windows offering live chat sessions appear only when shoppers display shopping behavior that interaction with a live chat rep is likely to convert to a sale.

KitchenAid configured the Timpani tool so that the chat sessions are triggered by three criteria: when a shopper has been on a site for a certain length of time; when a shopper repeatedly returns to a single category page; and when a shopper is on a page offering a promotional price.

After offering the proactive live chat tool from early July through December of last year, KitchenAid’s chat volume has accounted for 20% of online customer service sessions, says Bruce Roberson, director of consumer sales and services, KitchenAid Portable Appliance Division. By the end of December, live chat volumes had increased 400% from the end of July, he adds.

“The response from our customers to Timpani chat has been overwhelmingly positive," he says. "Every expectation we held prior to the implementation has been surpassed in an astonishingly short time.”

The Timpani platform also includes two other features that KitchenAid has yet to implement–-a pop-up e-mail form to send a question to customer service, and a self-help tool that lets shoppers view a "knowledgebase" page tailored to their expressed interests.

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