Over the past few years Live Chat, along with Click-to-Call, have become common tools embedded in marketing and e-commerce websites. To be effective the chat or voice session has to assume site visitors have no other tools beyond the browser to act as a chat client or voice device. Live Person has become one of the top Live Chat tools over the past couple of years, accelerated by its addition of a Click-to-Call feature last year, but there are several others.
While live chat and click-to-call tools have evolved in the Skype ecosystem, they usually assume both parties have Skype installed. Live chat as a marketing tool within the Skype ecosystem would require that a site visitor be able to create a chat client window “on-the;fly” when clicking on a live chat link with no special skills, “dedicated” tools or, most significantly, no Skype installation.
Late in February OnState Communications launched their OnState ACD for Skype 3.0, offering a call center solution bringing over 20 years experience as executives of a call center solution provider to the Skype ecosystem. However, delayed release of Skype’s long awaited Call Transfer capability has slowed adoption and roll-out; as a result the OnState team has carried out development activity that has resulted in a Skype-based solution for the traditional “live chat” market.
In particular OnState is announcing OnState ACD Chat Support which permits Skype-enabled call center agents to hold visitor-initiated chat sessions with any website visitor. Best part is that the visitor does not have to be a Skype user, making OnState’s live chat offering, as with legacy live chat offerings, totally independent of the visitor’s PC configuration (other than the requirement to have a web browser). The website owner simply installs a “Live Chat” button at an appropriate location on the website. Visitors can then click on the button to request a chat session with a representative (say, sales agent or customer service rep); a web-based chat window, as shown on the right, will open up on the visitor’s PC. The agent will see a chat request on their Skype IM client and can then initiate a chat discussion with the site visitor. Of particular note are:
- The site visitor does not need to be a Skype user nor is there any client to download.
- The chat window can be embedded or floating
- The agent can pop-up a chat window while the visitor is browsing.
Alternatively the visitor can be presented with some basic questions via a chat robot to obtain, say, the visitor’s name and contact information, etc. This information, along with the visitor’s IP address, is then presented to the Agent’s Skype IM client, as shown on the left, prior to initiating the chat discussion. While there is some flexibility as to the information gathering dialogue, more sophisticated tools such as SalesBuilder can be used for deeper customer profiling. At a minimum one wants to have basic contact information, along with a short description of reason for the call, prior to initiating a chat session (or voice call).
Agents can be selected by the OnState ACD based on matching the customer’s information to their individual skill sets. They can be handling multiple chat sessions concurrently; there will also be options to escalate a chat session to a voice session or, during a voice session, to turn on the Chat-ACD feature. Should there be a need to view the caller’s desktop to facilitate training or support, agents can readily invoke Unyte’s (or other vendor’s) desktop sharing application. In its final scenario, the OnState offering will provide a full multi-modal enabled service incorporating voice, chat, call back and multi-party conferencing. Think of its as spontaneous real time business conversations — your way.
To try it out, click on the three buttons to the right above to take you to On-State’s home page that has the same three buttons where clicking an individual button will connect you to the related real time conversation mode.
Working with Skype and incorporating a universally accessible chat feature provides a low cost, easily implemented Voice 2.0 solution to small and medium enterprises that found previous Live Chat offerings too cumbersome and expensive. According to Pat Kelly, OnState’s CEO, the combination of OnState Chat-ACD’s feature set and pricing will result in a very competitive offering.
OnState Chat-ACD is currently in beta mode with release expected in early July. OnState will be exhibiting this feature through an eBay partner at eBay Live.
Disclosure: OnState has become a consulting client; the author offers professional services based on previous experience with the implementation and operation of Live Chat services.