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Can click to call technology help eCommerce?

March 28, 2007

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Overall, CTC (click to call) technology offers eCommerce site visitors a chance to speak directly with a customer service agent through their computer. Or if they prefer, they can enter their phone number for an immediate call back. A Texas-based company says it has expanded the click to call concept to offer companies a full range of client service-oriented capabilities.

Similar types of this Internet-based call back service are presently being offered by competing vendors such as eStara Solutions, and Jaduka Inc.

Jaduka is a Dallas-based telecommunications service provider and says it uses the click-to-connect model as a foundation for a range of of both wireless services as well as land line-based.

For example, Jaduka says it offers MyPrivateLine, a portable toll-free number that allows call forwarding on the fly to any number a user chooses. This enables users to keep their phone numbers confidential. Another service called ClassAdd offers classified advertisers a secure, temporary phone number to use in their ads to publicly invite calls without ever having to publish their personal phone numbers.

All phone calls to that temporary number are automatically forwarded to the advertiser's home, mobile or business numbers. After the business has completed the sale, the advertiser turns off the Jaduka ClassAdd number, and no longer receives any more ad related calls.

Jaduka says it's able to reroute calls originating from the Internet directly to the PSTN (public switched telephone network), and connect with more than 120 telecommunication carriers or mobile phone networks globally.

According to company CEO Jack Rynes, this special feature differentiates it from other click-to-connect service providers. It's also particularly useful to businesses that use the Internet as a sales and client service channel. These companies can install a sales agent or customer service button right on their Web site that users can click to trigger a phone call directly to the business.

Most firms include contact phone numbers on their Web site, but customers can't click on those to trigger instant communication, notes Pete Pattullo, CEO of Longview, Texas-based NetworkIP, an "access exchange" serving voice and data product distributors.

"Customers see the phone number but when they click on it nothing happens! They still have to pick up the phone and directly dial that number." Other companies such as eBay may use click-to-call, but employ a closed-system such as Skype, Pattullo added.

Trevor Baca, eBay's v.p. of software engineering says "as a Web service, Jaduka acts as an interface that connects users to the global telephone network regardless of the location of the telecom service provider."

Baca says since Jaduka is operating system-independent, the product doesn't influence existing client applications in any way. The system also doesn't require any client-side installation either, which is an added bonus.

Rynes said their Internet-based offering allows significant savings over similar technologies that require complex hardware installations and lengthy commitment contracts with the vendors. But he said the greatest benefit a company can realize is in "saved transactions."

"Most often, customers of Web-based firms lose interest in a transaction because at the final moment of sale they have difficulty contacting a company representative over the phone," Rynes said. Jaduka claims that the "improved" communication capabilities they offer can reduce shopping cart abandonment by as much as 45 percent.

According to Tim Richardson, professor of online commerce at Seneca College in Toronto, "poor customer service or a mediocre client interface that isn't user-friendly is often one of the many reasons behind abandoned eCommerce shopping carts."

"Many times, online users that utilize the Web to buy products or services want to be able to speak live to a person on the other end before closing a deal. If that could be done easily over the phone it's a lot better and more effective, and it leaves the customer with a positive initial experience."

Increasingly, Richardson sees Jaduka's offering as promising for e-Commerce managers. There might even be some significant inventory management improvements as an added bonus. "If Jaduka's system can be connected to a RFID (Radio Frequency ID) system that will automatically contact site administrators about a shipment's potential arrival at a certain depot, that will be a great opportunity.

According to Jon Arnold, principal at J. Arnold and Associates, a marketing consultancy firm, wireless and telecom carriers and tech-savvy businesses can take full advantage of Jaduka to offer a greater variety of services to their clients.

"This could almost eliminate the need for maintaining expensive toll-free numbers and provide carriers additional services to offer subscribers," Arnold said.

He added "Jaduka's ability to provide temporary numbers would be ideal for organizations hosting seminars or holding marketing campaigns while obfuscated phone numbers would probably appeal to businesses such as online dating agencies or similar types of companies.

Jaduka recently made its API (application programming interface) open to the public, so programmers can develop custom applications more suited for their specific businesses.

Rynes said Jaduka users have also requested that the company include voice mail and conferencing features to its offering.

Rynes said such features will definitely be available, hopefully by Sep. 15, 2007.

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Source: IT World Canada

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