October 2, 2009, 12:00 AM


Regardless of how good a site experience e-retailers deliver, if their service falls short of consumers` expectations, chances are the shoppers they fought so hard to attract won`t convert or come back.

Key to the customer service experience is striking the balance between being proactively helpful and non-intrusive. While live chat is known to be an effective tool for reaching out to shoppers that appear to be stuck on a page or struggling with a purchase decision, retailers may not recognize they also can use other integrated technologies to recreate the high-touch service experience customers receive from in-store associates. A new tool from Bold Software LLC takes that online assistance to a new level.

"Live chat is more than just a customer service tool, it can provide the tools for agents to interact with customers on a more personal level," says Steve Castro-Miller, president and CEO of Bold Software, provider of the BoldCCM customer communication management product.

A more personal, interactive customer service experience that offers different methods of communication is a must-have for e-retailers today. Shoppers expect a web merchant to be able to be available through multiple channels and to be able to guide them through an online store to find the product they want, or deliver the information they need in a support encounter.

Right tool, right time

BoldCCM combines live chat, click-to-call, e-mail management, active co-browsing, and remote control capabilities in one easy-to-use interface. Because many contact centers are being asked to do more with less, the ability to quickly train and cross-train agents is key. "There are times when customers need more help than what they can get through typical live chat applications," says Matthew Tharp, director of sales for Bold Software. "BoldCCM allows agents to interact with customers in a variety of ways, taking the engagement to a higher, more personalized level of service."

By integrating communications, e-retailers can often gain significant efficiencies.

ApplianceZone, for example, reduced the size of its contact center by routing all customer inquires through live chat and email. The company uses BoldCCM to manage 24,000 chats and 72,000 emails each month.

A helping hand

The co-browsing functionality included with BoldCCM allows a web site visitor to share control of her browser or entire computer with an agent. The direct help a retailer`s agent can provide using this tool can make the difference between a shopper leaving a site or completing a sale.

To initiate a co-browsing session through BoldCCM, service agents send shoppers engaged in a live chat or click-to-call session a link that launches the feature on the shopper`s computer. Once launched, agents can see the same screens as the shopper, navigate for the customer, and even highlight certain areas of the site.

"It`s a more personal interaction than live chat alone," says Tharp. "Retailers that have large catalogs can benefit from this technology, because it allows them to provide a higher level of support across their entire range of products."

The BoldCCM application also includes a full remote control feature that enables agents-again with the shopper`s permission-to take control of the PC. This is especially helpful for retailers selling software and other digital products.

"With more software applications being downloaded, especially games, it is important to have this kind of technical customer service tool, because many customers encounter trouble launching downloaded applications," says Tharp. "There needs to be a way to provide hands-on help to resolve sales and support issues quickly."

With shoppers and existing customers both expecting a higher level of customer service from e-retailers, and demonstrating less patience with those that fall short of the mark, installing BoldCCM can provide a major point of differentiation.

"Customer service is an area retailers don`t want to shortchange," says Castro-Miller.

Learn more about BoldCCM

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