Clarifying click-to-call

Recently e-commerce media buzz has focused around click-to-call technology, with Internet search giants Google and Yahoo! testing ways to enable immediate Web-to-phone connections between buyers and sellers through their local search ads.

Click-to-call services let users click a button embedded on a Website, an e-mail, an ad banner, a search engine, or an online directory listing and immediately speak with a customer service representative. Customers can either place a call over the computer using voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) technology or request an immediate call back from the advertiser by entering their phone number. Unlike toll-free phone numbers, click-to-call services allow companies to monitor and control who calls as well as when and where online visitors can migrate from the Web to the phone sales channel.

A click-to-call service provider should supply you with the right customer contact tool at the right time to minimize costs and maximize online sales opportunities. This means you should select a click-to-call service provider that will be able to identify where your Website loses the most high-value transactions and know how and when to engage high-value customers.

With this information, you can offer the right kind of customer interaction and increase your online conversion rate without driving up CRM costs. You can use less costly customer information tools (text chat, FAQs, search, e-mail) to assist with non-transactional customer exchanges and reserve click-to-call to help close complex sales.

Companies that use click-to-call services are also increasing their use of conditional link deployments. These dynamic deployments allow a company to collect data on a Website visitor and broadcast a click-to-call button based on his profile and behavior while visiting the site.

Through cross-channel data passing, the context of the customer’s Web session is preserved. Should the customer decide to contact you via a traditional or conditional click-to-call button, the contact center agent will have access to variable data that are collected during the conversation so that he can meet the customer’s needs. This alleviates the usual anxiety on the part of a customer of having to “start all over again” when he decides to leave the Web and make a phone call.

What’s more, the data enable CSRs to identify where the caller was having trouble on the Web and “push” pertinent Web pages out to the customer during a click-to-call session by simply pressing keys on their telephone touch pad. A CSR is then able to handle customer inquiries with greater ease by providing the customer with visual references while they talk.

Most companies find that if they were to deploy click-to-call services on every page of their Website, 30% of the buttons would drive 80% of the transaction-critical calls. Following the initial launch with a click-to-call service, companies are able to scale up or scale back the deployment of click-to-call buttons to benefit from this rule.

Click-to-call services are improving online sales conversion rates, reducing Website abandonment, and delivering higher customer satisfaction for hundreds of businesses around the globe. Click-to-call has arrived, and savvy marketers across all industries are making it work for them to improve online sales conversions and customer satisfaction.

John Federman is CEO of eStara, a Reston, VA-based multichannel communications solutions provider.

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