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eBay Furthers One-on-One Contact

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Posted June 7, 2002 By Bob Woods     Feedback

The online auctioneer already offers AIM and wireless access to bidding information. Now, eBay is going one step farther in letting its community talk with reps via IM technology.

Having trouble with an eBay auction? Have a question about setting up an account?

Soon, eBay users will only need to click on an icon to chat with sales, marketing and customer service reps via IM technology, thanks to a pact the online trading giant signed with New York-based LivePerson Inc. .

The initial deployment of the LivePerson software solution, which hosts the service ASP (application service provider)-style, will let eBay users with questions or concerns to click on a "highly visible" icon that triggers a real-time chat interaction with eBay's customer-service staff. Those employees will then answer questions on buying, selling or registration via eBay operators.

LivePerson's system will also help San Jose, Calif.-based eBay in the gathering and analysis of critical information about chat traffic, customer service performance and user satisfaction. eBay will also use customizable features from LivePerson to support special promotions.

The LivePerson solution works in tandem with eBay's user notification preferences so that all interactions are in accordance with eBay's privacy requirements.

It wasn't immediately known when the service would go live on the eBay site. As of 10:30 AM EDT this morning, the LivePerson system did not appear to be available to eBay users.

Other LivePerson customers include American Airlines Credit Union, Ameritrade, EarthLink, Federated Stores, Godiva, QVC, Radian Guaranty and more than 3,000 other businesses, company officials said.

eBay is working hard to increase its visibility among its users. Earlier this week, it unveiled a wireless service designed for its global trading community. The service, to be offered by Alexandria, Va.-based InPhonic, will enable eBay users to receive alerts when they are outbid on an item and instantly rebid on it from a cell phone using two-way SMS technology.

Prior to this, users could receive e-mail alerts -- via PC and/or wireless devices like mobile phones, pagers or wireless-enabled PDAs -- regarding auction progress, including outbid notices. But no technology existed to respond to such notices other than logging onto the eBay Web site in the normal manner.

The new service, called Wireless Rebidding for eBay, uses InPhonic's two-way SMS technology. Many of the phones being sold today by the major carriers support this technology, and the technology is compatible with the nation's six major wireless carriers. The service also works with Internet-enabled cell phones that use the Wireless Application Protocol or WAP, though it does not require a WAP-enabled phone.

Last March, meantime, eBay quietly launched an IM trial with AOL Time Warner's America Online, allowing AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) users to use the immensely popular service to get information about their accounts from eBay.

An eBay spokesman told sister site InternetNews.com that the new service uses interactive agent technology from New York City-based ActiveBuddy Inc. A spokesman there confirmed that the application has been licensed by eBay.

At the time, officials said the service was being tested only through AOL.

Bob Woods is the managing editor of InstantMessagingPlanet.

Reprinted from InstantMessagingPlanet.

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