Thursday, August 8, 2013

Throwback Thursday: AOL Instant Messaging Opened Doors for Live Chat Vendors

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Happy Throwback Thursday!

Who remembers the little guy in the picture to the left? This is the icon for AOL Instant Messaging, or AIM. I remember this software as the "must-have" to stay connected with friends in that late 90's to the early 2000's. If you didn't have AIM, you weren't in the loop. AIM was, in a way, the Facebook of that time. 

Instant Messenger came out in 1997 and was one of the first of its kind to successfully allow users to communicate via the Internet in real time. In the eCommerce and Support industries, Live chat has come a long way since AIM. Below to the right is a screenshot of an AIM chat window. It was as simple to use as typing what you wanted to say, pressing enter, and the person on the other end of the computer screen would receive it...instantly! Another cool feature of AIM is having the ability to pick an avatar that would symbolize yourself. A lot like what we do with our Virtual Agents. We often include a face/avatar to the Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) to add personality. AIM also utilized A.I.'s for people's entertainment, questions, etc. Just sending a message to the specific screen name of the A.I. (which can be found by looking on the web) and you get a response back from a robot, just like our Virtual Agents!
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Instant messaging has matured since AIM of course. Now, there is chat on Facebook and other social networking sites, Skype, and a plethora of software that makes it easier to connect with people in real time. 

In today's era of technology, trusted brands use live chat for web customer support. When people have a question or concern, they can typically find support on a company's web page in the form of live chat. Click on the hyperlink to view our blog post, "Live Chat MVPs: An Insiders Look at the Top Live Chat Vendors and Best Practices." This link will provide you access to our document about key features to look for when selecting a live chat vendor and also a PowerPoint presentation titled, "Best Practices for Complementing Live Chat with a Virtual Agent." 

Whether live chat is being used from a support or sales stand point on a website, in the call center, or even at the Help Desk (Albert!), the benefits surpass the value of just staying connected with friends. Integrating live chat with a Virtual Agent provides a cost effective way for companies to establish and/or maintain relationships with consumers without seeing them face to face. InstantSupport(TM), like instant messaging, gives consumers answers to the questions they have instantly, and on their own terms. Thanks to AIM and other early live chat providers, the doors for web customer service opened, leading to one of the top resources people use when looking for online support.