One of the most obviously difficult things to provide in a commercial Web platform is customer service. It's not that great customer service is so difficult to deliver - it is more that many companies get caught up in the complexities of how to provide what kind of service. This means that online customer service is often based on expressing internal processes rather than being customer-centric. This disorientation inevitably leads to a less than satisfactory service experience for customers.A very simple way out of this problem is to outsource the platform that you use for customer service and good examples of these options are the products offered by Qualte (see links below).Qualte offer two products in this market:* Qualte LITE, a Web-based turnkey help desk for small businesses that offers "self-help" tools as well as problem ticketing, escalation, knowledgebase features, and optional real-time chat.* Qualte PRO, a hosted customer support system designed for larger businesses that provides all of the features of the LITE version as well as chat and call center functionality and enhanced reporting, routing and tracking capabilities.LITE features natural language knowledgebase searching and a knowledgebase builder, intelligent auto-response e-mail and e-mail management services, problem ticketing, call center capabilities, and reporting services. One of the features it offers is the ability to consolidate all customer service requests with customer history - a huge advantage in building an efficient service operation. LITE is Web-based and the company claims that set up takes less an hour.As I noted, PRO builds on the features of LITE. As well as a real-time chat service, PRO includes more sophisticated versions of e-mail management, call center services, and reporting. PRO also has many more options including integration with sales force automation, ERP, and marketing systems, file storage and sharing, phone call tracking and logging, multi-site support, localization, remote desktop control service, and multi-dimensional analytical data analysis. Qualte also offers consulting on process design and implementation for PRO.Qualte LITE starts at $49.95 per customer service representative while Qualte PRO costs $5,000 plus a minimum of five customer support representatives at $65 per seat per month.