RealCall Adds Human Touch to Help Solve E-Commerce Bailouts

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By implementing an "alert button" on affiliates' Web sites, RealCall, a provider of real-time technology, offers companies solutions to e-commerce bailouts and affords consumers a quality hard to come by on the Internet -- human interaction.


RealCall, which last month announced a new alert service that delivers content to customers when they are offline, sets infrastructure that enables companies to place the alert button on their Web sites and call consumers back upon response, closing the deal with a one-to-one telephone call instead of letting customers back out of transactions.


The RealCall Alert system links a company's Web site to its call center so that when a consumer clicks on the alert button and provides a telephone number, a phone representative is notified to call the prospective customer back -- all within minutes.


"It makes a massive difference, taking a simple technology like the button and adding human interaction to the number of e-commerce bailouts the market is seeing," said Eric van der Kleij, chief operating officer and co-founder of RealCall, Stamford, CT -- www.realcall.com.


Online retailers have seen a steady increase in e-commerce bailouts in the last few years. In fact, according to a 1999 survey by Forrester Research, Cambridge, MA, an online research firm, more than 60 percent of online shoppers abandon their shopping carts or purchase forms before completing a transaction. Jupiter Communications, New York, an online research company, reported in a 1999 study that 90 percent of customers said they preferred human interaction when shopping via the Internet.


With five alerting services that add a "human voice" to interactive transactions, van der Kleij believes that RealCall's solutions are the answer to e-commerce bailouts. In addition to the Internet callback service, RealCall offers companies its wireless -- or B2Me Commerce -- solution, which enables them to deliver information and sales to their customers via wireless devices. Upon receiving the company content via a mobile phone, for example, a customer -- after punching a phone key -- will receive a call from a customer representative.


RealCall also provides companies with interactive television alerting systems and its recently launched Info Alert system, or "me-commerce." The service, van der Kleij said, offers consumers -- whether online or offline -- the option of directly reaching the content provider after receiving a message. For instance, a customer who just received stock information via mobile phone can connect to the broker at any time, from any place, he said.


"It's me-oriented and very personalized, because the experience has to be much more personalized than the Internet since it's hard to search using mobile phones," van der Kleij said. "To be able to search for what you want and then interact and transact using your voice is key."


RealCall also provides its TeleBanner service, which works like a traditional banner ad but incorporates the alert button. After a prospective customer clicks on the alert button and provides his name and telephone number, as with the other services, a customer service representative is alerted to call back within minutes.


The service, van der Kleij said, improves upon traditional banner ads and other forms of Internet advertising because it includes human interaction. Banner ads and e-mail marketing, for instance, also lack a call-to-action, he said.


"It's difficult to justify massive investments for a [banner ad] that doesn't do anything for the Web site that's hosting it," van der Kleij said. "Because as soon as someone sees the banner ad and clicks on it, the traffic is taken away."


Utour.com, Hillsboro, OR, a Web solutions and visual content provider, which formed a partnership with RealCall two months ago, offers the TeleBanner service to its clients. The company provides virtual tours for home builders, among others, said Randy Chavers, vice president of sales and marketing at Utour.


"As customers view the rooms and see something they like, all they have to do is click on the RealCall button and it will connect to the salespeople for that builder," he said. "RealCall bridges the gap between the Internet and telephone services."


And by connecting those services, van der Kleij said, RealCall enables companies to more effectively market to their customers. The alert applications, for instance, provide the one-to-one interaction that allows a company to "detect hesitation" in a prospective customer. A Web site alone could not spot that indecisiveness and turn it into an upsell, for example, he said.


"Only humans can do that," he said.
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