NEW YORK--A start-up firm today unveiled Web-based customer service
software that lets a company representative converse with a
customer online and guide the visitor's Web browser through pages on
the firm's Web site.
SiteBridge, formerly known as
SocialScience, calls the new software for real-time, interactive customer
SiteBridge's announcement came today at the Internet and Electronic Commerce
conference in New York, where other vendors also made product
SiteBridge's software can detect the visitor's Web browser and computing
platform, whether the user is behind a firewall, and then serves up
customized pages tailored to individual users. No plug-ins or special
software are required for users, and because the system is not completely
Java-based, it can deal with users who have older browsers or have disabled
Java for security reasons.
The product is targeted to firms such as online brokerages, consumer
banking, computer help desks, online retailers, and travel services, said
Wendell Lansford, SiteBridge's chief executive.
Net-based customer service is emerging as a factor in differentiating a
company from its rivals. An October report by research firm Jupiter Communications concluded that
business-related chat functionality could boost the competitive positioning
of commerce sites and online marketers.
Customers click on a link on a company's Web site, answer basic questions
to expedite the call, and then the "call" is taken by an online customer
service representative (CSR).
One advantage of SiteBridge's system: home users with a single phone line
don't have to disconnect from the Net and "leave the Web site environment"
to get a question addressed.
Designed for large companies with ten or more customer reps, the SiteBridge
system logs every contact, and supervisors can get transcripts of
individual sessions. For reps, the system is designed to mimic how they
handle phone calls, and their console shields them from technical
SiteBridge is not the first to jump on the online customer service
bandwagon. ichat, which makes
Net-based chat software, offers a Customer Interaction Suite for building
chat rooms, and provides threaded discussion areas for customer support. Aspect Technologies and start-up WebLine Communications announced
offerings last month.
CustomerNow is being offered at an introductory rate of $30,000 with five
CSR seats included. Additional seats cost $1200. Lansford said the company
has not yet determined how much the price will increase in June, when the
introductory rate expires.
In other news at the show:
eCharge is scheduled to unveil a
transaction system that lets users buy on the Web and have charges put on
their monthly telephone bills.
USA Global Link is expected
to launch its Instant Callback serve that lets Web shoppers receive phone
calls from Web site vendors on demand.
Ironside Technologies is
scheduled to introduce a new software developers kit called Ironworks
Developers Kit to build custom e-commerce applications. It also will
release Ironside 2.0, business-to-business e-commerce software targeted at
wholesalers and distributors.
Segue Software will unveil new
scenario-based testing tools so e-commerce sites can simulate situations
before they launch their services on the Net.
SpaceWorks will announce a
customer guarantee for its enterprise-oriented e-commerce software: up and
running in 60 days or money back.
Speedware is due to unveil a
major upgrade, Orderpoint 4.0. Features include automated email
notification and customer-specific pricing.
Trade'ex Commerce Systems is
scheduled to make partnership and customer announcements plus a reshuffling
of its product line into a suite of offerings.