• United States

Live service with LivePerson

Feb 09, 20042 mins
Enterprise Applications

* A smarter service rep

Telephone-based customer service and support is, on the whole (excluding a couple of vendors I have highlighted in recent columns), dreadful. Not only is it usually next to impossible to get hold of someone but when you do, they often seem to be clueless.

One of the reasons for this parlous state of affairs is that service and support operations are hugely expensive operations requiring trained service representatives who can only handle so many calls in a day.

Obviously there’s a huge advantage to be gained if the telephone can be removed from the equation … enter the Web (sounds like a Bruce Lee film, but I digress).

The Web-based, real-time version of customer service is a pretty compelling idea from the supporting company’s viewpoint. One customer service representative can handle two or three simultaneous conversations with clients. The rep can use “canned” responses to speed up call handling, and transcripts can be generated for the customers and internal analysis.

A leader in this market is LivePerson (see links below), which offers three versions of its eponymous LivePerson system: Sales Edition, Service Edition, and Service Edition – Platinum Series, all supplied on a hosted ASP basis.

The Sales Edition provides a basic real-time chat service and includes a rules engine that, through custom HTML tags and rules specific to each site, can invite customers whose profiles meet certain criteria to engage in a conversation with sales staff.

LivePerson claims that its Sales Edition improves client perception of e-commerce systems and that some of its clients have seen a 50% increase in sales conversion rates, a 40% reduction in the cost to acquire a lead, and a 25% reduction in shopping cart abandonment.

The Service Edition is a customer driven chat service with canned responses while the Service Edition – Platinum Series includes a knowledgebase that is presented to the customer and integrates with the chat service so that reps can steer customers to relevant documentation.

A LivePerson rep told me that a service representative can handle up to three conversations simultaneously.

Pricing for the Sales Edition starts at $12,500 per month for up to five service reps while the Service Edition and Service Edition – Platinum Series are priced starting at $500 and $750 per service rep per month, respectively.


Mark Gibbs is an author, journalist, and man of mystery. His writing for Network World is widely considered to be vastly underpaid. For more than 30 years, Gibbs has consulted, lectured, and authored numerous articles and books about networking, information technology, and the social and political issues surrounding them. His complete bio can be found at

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