*Soliloquy Datamines Customer Conversations
Soliloquy specializes in natural language technology that makes online shopping conversational. It also allows marketers the fairly unique option of "dialogue mining."
For example, its "Pick-a-Notebook" section at Acer.com can recommend a laptop based on consumer's simple language requests. Visitors to the site are told: "I can help you buy a notebook and answer your notebook-related questions. I'm focused and single-minded, so please don't ask me to tell you a joke or to discuss the meaning of life. Just tell me, in your own words, what you are looking for in a notebook."
Users post their questions in a typical search box. If they say they like to travel, it asks them to specify how heavy they would like their notebook to be. It then helps users narrow their choices through criteria such as speed, memory and screen size. Finally, it makes a handful of recommendations.
Soliloquy's technology allows a site to automatically answer questions by matching queries with a database of product information.
"Your chat with a computer expert feels like you're chatting with a [human] expert. But it's actually smarter because it has a 100 percent product knowledge," said Catherine Winchester, CEO of Soliloquy, New York.
Its "Enhanced Dialogue Mining" capabilities log all conversations and statistically analyze the statements so vendors can gain insight into the factors motivating consumers buying decisions. "In the past when you wanted to find out what people wanted, you had to conduct focus groups," Winchester said. "Now you don't have to do that because you're collecting marketing intelligence the whole time."
By mining the data in the Acer.com conversation log, it found that the five most requested laptops weren't even available at the site. Acer.com subsequently, put the laptops on the site and sales increased, Winchester said.
"This is the next generation of user interface," she said "It's a big hot button because last year companies wanted to just get their e-commerce sites up and running. This year, they're trying to improve the user experience."
Soliloquy will launch on Cnet.com shortly. It also has deals with ZDNet and Hewlett-Packard.
Winchester would not quantify the exact cost of the service other than to say, "it costs several hundred thousand dollars a year."