Chat Gets Some Brains and Some Manners

Surely everyone’s had the experience of walking into a store, needing help selecting an item, and finding no one willing or able to help you. Niney-nine percent of the time, you just walk out. Product developers at Moxie Software found that the very same scenario plays out in the digital marketplace, and this week the chat software developer introduces a new product for a new strategic market—e-commerce operators.

“Only three to four percent of people chat in an online retail environment, but everybody knows that if you get someone to chat, conversion goes way up,” says Brian Strauss, VP of engineering at Moxie, who describes the company’s new digital engagement suite as the online equivalent of knowledgeable retail associates engaging customers in stores with the right answers just when they sense they are in need of them.

Moxie’s solution alerts website shoppers to the option of chatting with a representative, but instead of interrupting the shopping visit with timed pop-ups of a chat box, it uses behavioral cues to sense when a visitor needs help. It also provides host e-com sites with a call-bell button that users can press at any time to summon an associate.

“For instance, someone could be shopping for a tablet as a gift, but knows nothing about them. He’ll aimlessly scan several options and check out lower-priced items,” Strauss says. “The Moxie system will recognize that as a cue to intervene and ask, ‘Would you like to view all the tablets on sale?’”

Strauss relates that marketers at American Eagle, one of the testers of the new service, were shocked to find that 50% of the chats started by Moxie involved sale items. “And they’re not short conversations. Customers will ask if they have the sale item in other sizes and colors,” Strauss says.

The platform lets marketers configure engagement rules for the chats based on real-time customer behavior without any assistance from the IT department. Chat, meanwhile, is not the only engagement option. E-coms can also react to cues with factual snippets and emails. The system uses responsive design and operates in the same manner on phones and tablets.

Moxie’s history is working with customer service departments, but this new venture has the company working with e-commerce marketing and operations executives. It also has it exploring the evolution of sales-service hybrid agents to man the chat stations.

“This is not engagement automation. This is very much actual people engaging other actual people on a website,” Strauss says. “Some of our customers who’ve tested the system are actually looking to seed their call centers  with agents who have sales skills.”

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