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Integrated and Interactive Online Chat Window for Communicating with Existing and Potential Customers

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000177351D
Publication Date: 2008-Dec-09

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

An interactive online chat window is a communication tool that may be integrated into websites of different companies (including financial service companies or FSCs). Options or features of the interactive online chat window (including, according to some embodiments, a video chat option) enable companies to communicate more effectively with customers. In particular, a company may increase productivity by reducing inbound phone calls and allowing customers who are experiencing difficulty online have their problems resolved in real time. A company may capture new business by providing immediate answers to online questions, e.g., from new customers who lack a familiarity with the products and services of the company, as well as from existing customers who stand in need of a better understanding of those products and services.

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 Integrated and Interactive Online Chat Window for Communicating with Existing and Potential Customers

Background

    Financial service institutions, insurance companies, and related financial service entities (hereinafter collectively "financial service companies" or FSCs) are routinely making more of their products and services available online. As with customers of other companies, customers of FSCs are being given additional ways to conduct business with individual companies through online means. Through new online forums, for example, FSCs in particular may provide compelling general content and specific information to a wide spectrum of new and existing customers. In addition, these new online forums often allow customers to transact business with FSCs at times and in places that are most preferred by customers. Not surprisingly, companies in other sectors of business also are making use of new online features to meet customer needs.

    A common problem with online forums of FSCs is that the forums (i.e., the web pages and tools available therein) can be overwhelming for some customers, and, in view of this apparent lack of user-friendliness, some customers may be motivated to choose not to use the online forums. These customers may continue to rely largely on customer service representatives of call centers in order to transact business with FSCs, and call volumes may increase substantially (or at least not diminish on schedule according to the plans of FSCs in view of the availability of new online forums). Longer hold times may result, and, as a consequence of these and other occasions for frustration, customers may close accounts and otherwise adversely affect the overall bottom line of FSCs.

    Some FSCs have tried to resolve problems like these by giving online customers phone numbers to call (e.g., in callback services), or by providing online customers with email addresses to send questions to, and receive answers from, a company representative in text format. Unfortunately, these services may require more time than customers often can afford. For customers who rely on the internet for business transactions (whether with FSCs or other companies), time typically is of the essence. As a result, none of these "solutions" may be widely viable for customers who rely on the internet.

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Innovation Overview

    As disclosed herein, an integrated online chat window has several invaluable uses. First, an online chat window is a tool for communicating over the internet through typed text, which enables people to communicate by receiving and sending responses without the need for an analog device (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. Online chat window.

    In addition, features of this tool allow people to have a full conversation instantaneously by typing response text and clicking a "Send" button, which then allows the rece...