Text Chat Accounts for Half of DataPipe Sales

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A live text-chat channel has grown to account for nearly half of all sales at Web-hosting provider DataPipe since the company installed a click-to-chat button on its Web site two months ago.


After installing the system, designed by New York-based KnowEx Solutions Inc., online sales generated from the text-chat hotline began to grow quickly compared with the company's traditional sales channels, which include e-mail and a toll-free number. The hotline is available six days a week from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. EST.


The text chat has been successful because it provides a way for prospects to reach a live company representative casually and quickly, said Rob Allen, founder/CEO of DataPipe.


"I think people like the fact that while they're surfing a Web page, they can click a button and get immediate information," Allen said. "They can do that with a certain degree of anonymity."


Site visitors only need to type in a name at a sign-in screen to open up a text-chat box in their browser. The box allows them to type in questions and "chat" with a DataPipe sales representative as well as to read replies. They are not required to submit personal information.


DataPipe, Hoboken, NJ, typically has seven or eight sales representatives taking orders and handling customer contact at any given time during its hours of operation, Allen said. The representatives handle online and e-mail contacts as well as telephone sales.


When answering customer questions via text chat, the sales representatives have the ability to conference a company expert into the chat session. This capability allows sales representatives access to the proper company personnel when they cannot answer customer questions on their own.


The representatives also can log on from their home computers and access the text-chat service so they can close deals after hours.


KnowEx maintains the text-chat system on its own computers, so DataPipe needed only to make some changes in its Web page to bring the system online. The changeover occurred overnight.


"We were able to make a seamless transition," Allen said. "For us, it was just a matter of inserting code and taking the inquiries."


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