Workface puts 'face' on Web customer interactions

Software allows businesses to create team profiles that help make online chat more personal and extends communications options beyond chat to voice, video and email.

A small travel business in Fargo, North Dakota, has humanized its online presence by layering combination chat, voice, email and video interaction technology from Minneapolis-based developer Workface into its Web site. The technology, which it has been using for about one year, has helped Travel Leaders of Fargo engage more deeply with more potential customers, helping it set the foundation for longer term relationships.

"The main driver for adding Workface to our online presence is our need to capture and capitalize on potential online leaders that we knew were out there," said Cindy Tyo, owner of Travel Leaders of Fargo. " 'Virtually' putting our agents in online locations where clients and prospects could immediately connect with us is giving my agents a competitive advantage. Simply put, Workface lets us touch those who are online in ways that other communication platforms can't."

The organization started with three seats of the Workface software, but doubled it to six after its initial testing.

The Workface Customer Engagement Platform enables salespeople, marketing managers and customer service agents to set up personal profiles that can be reached via their Web site. That means the interaction that Web site visitors have with potential customers and general visitors is more "human" and more akin to the face-to-face interaction that someone would have with your small business if they were to walk in the front door, said Workface founder and president Lief Larson.

The graphic below gives you an idea of what the application looks like on your Web site. When you click chat, instead of a text-only window, the Workface Customer Engagement Platform gives your prospects other options for communicating including video or voice.

"Approximately 89 percent of customers are doing due diligence online before they buy. This makes that interaction seem more personal," Larson said.

A Workface profile doesn't just have to live on your company's Web site. It actually can live in other place where a customer might stumble upon information about your company, such as Facebook, or be served up with search engine results. Workface touts these four primary advantage for businesses that use its software:

  • Identity control, meaning that the profile is the same in many different places (and consistent) (It also makes it easier to shut off an account for someone who might have left the company)
  • Relationship management, allowing salespeople or customer-service reps to establish a one-on-one interaction
  • Imagery, meaning that a person's human face is presented, not a disembodied chat agent
  • Real time, meaning that whomever is available can respond, so that prospects aren't bounded around in voicemail or circuitous response systems where they can't reach someone "live"

As the name suggests, Workface scales up into large businesses, but the company is encouraging small and midsize businesses to get involved. As of August 2011, it had raised approximately $2.5 million in venture financing.
Small and midsize businesses can actually try three seats of the software at no cost, Larson said. If you choose to go beyond that, you'll pay $25 per user, per month, he said.


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