May 20, 2004, 12:00 AM

Drawbacks hinder live chat’s utility, but business rules help resolve them

Most often, live chat service requires users to start a session, and it’s available to all customers at all times. Pushing out live chat selectively and strategically can boost customer utilization and satisfaction, Forrester says.

Integrating business rules into a live chat function addresses some issues that have kept live chat from being more widely adopted, according to recent findings from Forrester Research Inc.


One of those issues is that many live chat implementations always require the consumer to initiate the session. “Businesses then sit idly by as buyers abandon high-value shopping carts,” according to Forrester analyst Bob Chatham. In addition, sites have generally set up live chat to be available to all customers at all times, regardless of capacity or customer value. Overall, few online customers perceive live chat to be a satisfactory avenue for sales or service, Forrester says.

A recently-released version of LivePerson Inc.`s live chat product, Sales Edition, takes on the problem of pushing out live chat more selectively by factoring in business rules that launch an invitation to a live chat session based on criteria such as the value of merchandise in the visitor’s shopping cart or length of time the visitor has been considering a high-value item on the site. To capture that visitor information for its rules engine, LivePerson uses tags such as those used in web analytics packages.

The rules-based approach to live chat was well received by 80% to 87% of consumers who used Sales Edition at sites interviewed by Forrester – a positive rating “likely to improve chat’s dismal performance as a service channel,” according to Forrester.

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