In its second-largest acquisition, Amazon buys the company for $970 million.
The vendor plans to expand its offerings beyond live chat.
Live chat vendor Needle has hired Amazon Webstore general manager Scott Pulsipher as president and chief operating officer.
Pulsipher had been at Amazon, No. 1 in the 2013
Top 500 Guide, since 2009. Before that he was senior vice president of products and marketing at Sterling Commerce (which IBM acquired in 2010).
Needle’s approach to customer service includes working with retailers like Skullcandy and Under Armour to find agents from that company’s customer base who can answer shoppers’ questions via online chat. Those agents, who can work from anywhere with an Internet connection, receive an hourly wage, as well as points they can apply toward merchandise.
Needle, which has 21 live chat customers, plans for Pulsipher to expand its customer base and move the company into new product categories.
Chief among those efforts is Traffic Builder, a twist on social question-and-answer tools that the vendor is testing now, says Morgan Lynch, Needle’s founder and CEO. Traffic Builder takes a retailer’s live chat content and scrubs it of personally identifiable information so that the retailer can post it on its web site. Related chat conversations then accumulate on, for example, a product page, similarly to social question-and-answer forums.
The extra content should help bolster a retailer’s natural search ranking, Lynch says.
“Everyone is looking for fresh content,” he says. “This provides a better shopping experience.” The idea is also to provide better customer support, he says, as the questions that one shopper asks are likely shared by many others.
Needle plans to officially announce Traffic Builder soon, says a company spokeswoman.