Serving Your Customers With Instant Messages

Two Silicon Valley-based companies say they are joining forces to expand the use of popular instant messaging tools to improve customer service.

Foster City-based FaceTime Communications and Emeryville-based Ask Jeeves (Nasdaq: ASKJ) Wednesday announced a joint venture to deliver instant messaging-based customer service to its enterprise users.

The result will be a combination of self-service and live-assistance capabilities for large customer care firms.

“We believe our corporate customer base of companies such as Dell, Ford, Nike and Nextel, may in the future want to complement the self-service and customer intelligence capabilities we offer with the live assistance that FaceTime provides,” says Claudio Pinkus, president of Ask Jeeves Business Solutions.

Ask Jeeves and FaceTime say they will work closely together to transition Ask Jeeves’ corporate customers from Jeeves Live, which the company has discontinued, to FaceTime’s instant messaging technology.

FaceTime’s Instant Message Director works with IM networks such as AOL, Microsoft, and Yahoo! The program is being used with companies such as Compaq, BankOne, Western Union, and Now it is Ask Jeeves turn.

As a customer service tool, IM is a logical choice. More and more people are using it.

According to research firm IDC, by 2004, more than 400 million clients will be using instant messaging to generate 2 trillion instant messages between consumers and businesses.

More and more companies like Ask Jeeves and FaceTime say they are looking to instant messaging as a faster alternative to even the speediest e-mail program.

“When time sensitivity in problem resolution is critical to Ask Jeeves’ customers, FaceTime’s instant messaging technology provides immediate escalation management to the right human at the right time,” says FaceTime CEO Glen Vondrick.

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