The feature I'm most interested in is a new little Chat icon on the side of the page. You can see it here. What better way then to interact with potential clients then to allow them to speak with you without having to pick up the phone.
I Hate the Phone - That's Why I'm in ITBesides those that despise Alexander Graham Bell's (he's Canadian, eh) invention and think the telephone was "so 18th century" and SMS is where it's at, there are other great uses for an online Chat feature. Picture this - you're an IT Systems Architect and you need to buy a new blade server today. The problem is that you're invited to a global conference call with other architects from around the world and attendance is mandatory. How can you use this time productively? If you answered "listen to what's going on in the meeting" you are 200% incorrect. Typically, no one cares what you have to say. Why not multitask to get your real work done and find out more information about the IBM blade server that you had your eye on. With chat, you will be able to get in touch with a Representative right away and still pretend to listen in on the call.
Chat and Customer Support - Better then getting a "Please leave a message"Here's another scenario - you call customer support from your favourite software vendor and either no one is there or your put on hold for eternity. To avoid all this "fun", you could use online chat to ask for assistance right away. For even more enjoyment, why not call, email and use chat all at the same time? See who responds more quickly and accurately.
Using Chat for Lead GenerationWhen I clicked on IBM's chat button, I was told that no one was online. Besides having your web visitors initiate the chat session, what if you're sales reps were the ones that started the chatting (hey, it doesn't take much)? You see someone looking at your products, why not start a chat with them? At the very least you can ask for an email address so you can send them some personalized information. What better way to get opt-in email addresses? Perhaps point them to a new resource on your site or to a blog article. The possibilities with chat are endless for B2B lead generation. Hey, if you've invested a ton of resources on building a great website, you have an amazing inside sales team that are just waiting for the phone to ring and a ton of traffic that you helped generate from email and paid search, why not add an additional tool that is relatively inexpensive that will increase conversations and maximize your marketing investments. It's companies like IBM that see this vision and are using this technology to their advantage. You go Blue!
What do you think? Have you ever participated in online chat? What if this technology was added to blogs? Would it be called "Blat" or "Chog"?