January 30, 2009, 12:00 AM

The Match Game

(Page 2 of 2)

Another key feature to ask about, Wolansky says, is how a chat vendor tracks the results of chat interactions. The hard part is that a consumer may chat, leave, then buy later. Tying the initial chat to the sale is important for properly paying commissions to chat agents. Orvis has used its web analytics system from Coremetrics to match chats with later sales, and Wolansky says InstantService has worked with Orvis to improve that type of reporting.

Leave yourself a way out

Contract flexibility is one reason Jonathan Abt, co-president of multi-channel retailer Abt Electronics, likes working with Bravestorm LLC, provider of the BoldChat chat technology.

“There’s no long-term contracts,” Abt says. “You can make it as long or as short as you want.” Abt initially chose a month-to-month agreement, eventually signing a one-year contract once comfortable with BoldChat.

Besides being able to get out of the deal, Abt says BoldChat makes it easy to add seats to the 18 licenses he now has. “I could do it within a few hours, it’s that simple,” he says.

Orvis’ Wolansky says most live chat vendors were confident enough in their services to offer the contract exit clause he demanded. “If it’s hurting my business, I want out in 60 days,” he says.

That exit clause is important in any contract. No matter how thorough a retailer’s evaluation process, unpleasant surprises are always possible.

don@verticalwebmedia.com

For the Internet Retailer Live Chat Products & Services Guide, click here.

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