Real (Not Virtual) People To Help Customers

How many times have you visited a corporate Web site, only to find that when you had a question or encountered a problem, there was no way to get help? You're not alone. Electronic commerce experts say this is one of the most common complaints of cyber-shoppers. "Customers get lost in the cyberspace maze with no help and no one to call on for help," says Mohanbir Sawhney, assistant professor of marketing at Northwestern University's J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management. "Support is an important reason why people leave without buying." Now a company called PeopleSupport promises to fix the problem, offering real-time "text chat" to support customers of a company's Web site. A Los Angeles-based Internet startup that provides live online help for Web sites, PeopleSupport provides "eReps"-- customer service representatives who are trained in the client's products and services. These eReps chat with customers over the Internet and when necessary, they also "push" relevant Web pages to the customer's browser. PeopleSupport's flagship customer is BrainPlay.com, a maker and reseller of children's toys, videos, and software based in Denver. PeopleSupport is installing its interactive link, accessed via a "live help now button," on the toy reseller's Web site.

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