No matter how cutting edge the Web site is, security dealers continually gripe that hordes of consumers remain skittish about buying products or services online. Not to worry. A pioneering group of Web software makers are helping to suppress that anxiety by enabling buyers and sellers to communicate online with text and voice messaging.
Essentially, these new technologies enable a buyer and seller to engage in live communication over the Web by typing messages on their computer screens or by using microphones to talk with one another.
Moreover, Internet analysts say that major telecommunications players, such as Sprint, AT&T, MCI and Lucent are all gearing up for what they expect to be a healthy demand for business transactions over the Web in years to come.
Inevitably, both telecommunications giants and smaller upstarts, such as Webmaster, will be spinning out who knows how many solutions for getting people to warm up to the Web.
Four Ways of On-line Interaction May Spark Sales
The first is two-line interaction in which a sales representative and a customer talk together over a traditional phone line. During the conversation, the sales representative can “push” data, images and video to the customer via the Web.
The second form of live communication over the Web is also two-line interaction, but this type occurs when a customer almost instantly gets a call-back from a sales person after clicking a “Call-Me-Back” hot button on a Web site.
One-line interaction, another form of using the Web for communication, is when a sales representative and customer converse through the use of their PCs with Internet telephony. In this case, the two can still work with data and images via the Web.
Using text-chat to communicate while working with data and images pushed over the Web is another type of one-line interaction
Simultaneously Stimulating Sight and Sound Works Best
Software packages enabling a security dealer to push data and images over the Web while talking to a prospective client via microphone are also promising. Web sites with this capability are known as “voice-enabled Web sites.”
An example of this type of software package is the Internet Call Center from Lucent. The package enables a security dealer to set up a voice-enabled Web site. In turn, the dealer can send a prospective client pictures of the firm’s latest technology while talking about the benefits of that technology over a PC microphone.
Unfortunately, there is a downside to voice-enabled Web sites. The installed base of home PCs equipped with microphones is still rather small.
Chat-Room-Style Interaction Equals Easy Communication
The easiest way for a buyer and seller to use two-way communication via the Web is with text chat-room software, like ConferenceRoom from Webmaster. With this type of product, all the consumer needs is a standard Internet connection and the willingness to communicate with a salesperson by typing messages back and forth.
Despite the profound competitive advantage inherent in text and voice-enabled e-commerce sites, it may be years before the well-established, more conservative Fortune 1000 firms learn to embrace the technology, according to Cooperstein.
This is probably not the most sunny forecast for the providers of text-chat and voice-chat software. But, for the e-commerce-minded security dealer who wants to stay ahead of the pack, it is an exceptionally encouraging projection indeed.
Joe Dysart is an Internet business consultant based in Thousand Oaks, Calif. He can be reached at (805) 379-3841 or [email protected]