I am a huge fan of meebo and in particular its meebome free widget that enables you to chat with visitors to your website [there's one on this page]. It also provides you with real-time presence information [no historic data sadly as yet.]. Presently its best suited to the smaller site, as the widget only links to one person's IM account, rather than say a dept or call centre team.

I came across a similar commercial service today, Helponclick, the free version of which isn't as good as meembo but which does have several paid-for versions that provides the dept connectivity as well as real time + historic traffic data.

I reckon that, for now at least, these utilities do offer a competitive advantage to sites using them. Why? Well, you're offering a more personal experience
Clearly, some people may find this instrusive, particularly if you are pushy and may just want to browse unmolested, indeed this might be why they are using an online store - but then, this is no different to the physical store where a sensible store assistant will back off but be available if needed. Personally, I'd prefer to use a site which gave me access to someone if I needed help.

For the website owner, this obviously adds an additional expense and their dreams of a cost free site, particularly if they don't have a call centre that can handle this additional "outlet". Consequently, it may not be suitable to all sites, particularly those selling low margin/priced goods. Likewise, depending on how many concurrent visitors a site receives, it may actually prove counterproductive if you don't have enough "assistants" that can promptly respond to online "chats" and thus diminish the perception of the brand.

Disagree? Well, if I'm online then let's chat! Or you can leave me a message if I'm not.

posted by John Wilson @ 8:59 AM Permanent Link newsvine reddit


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