Wednesday, September 27, 2006

MeeboMe - Low cost consumer chat?

I've personally been a big fan of online consumer chat for retail sites, both as a user and in past roles as an ecommerce manager. I think that this kind of real-time contact with a knowledgable customer service agent, in context... is invaluable. Most research also backs up my belief, since it is a leading way to reduce the fear inherent in some ecommerce transactions. It also provides yet another one-to-one touchpoint for your organization, something that in our connected economy the consumer is still wanting.

But, the question has always come up... how can you cost justify the expense of putting in a system for this, when a lot of the "benefit" is "perceived" or "soft." I think I just found my answer to that question in the form of my favorite "Web 2.0" tool: MEEBO.

For those of you who don't know, MEEBO is a great tool to log into all of the major instant messaging networks, from one browser window. While other pieces of software like Trillian and GAIM do the same kind of thing, MEEBO does it all from a Browser Window. You don't have to install anything on your machine. Go to, login (or not!) and go. A little over a month ago MEEBO introduced a little widget called "MEEBOME" that you can embed into your site, and start an instant chat session with the "host." I saw on the MEEBO BLOG today a note where one retailer is using this as a way to do online chat with their customers... brilliant!!!!! This gives you the proof of concept any retailer would need, provides you with a cost effecient way to reach out to your customers within the context of the shopping expereience... and did I mention that its free?

If you're a smaller retailer online, or any smaller business that's online for that matter... what a GREAT way to "expose" your "experts" to your customer base. I could envision SO many ways to use this tool. If you have some ideas, post them in the comments or better yet MEEBOME in the column to the right!


BenC said...

I think Meebome is great for blogs, and other less formal websites, but it's hard to fit the meebome widget into a corporate layout.

My company: is working on developing a widget with similar functionality to Meebome, but with the ability integrate directly with any jabber client (read no need to log into a specific website) and the ability to completely customize the chat interface's look and feel.

The product is still in beta, but is a nice alternative to Meebo's flash box.

the URL is:


onlineretailguy said...

Thanks for your comment. It'll be interesting to see how unfolds. I do have to say though that the thought of installing a jabber client at this point... in the age of SAAS... seems a bit outdated. One of the reasons I'm such a big meebo fan is... I can access all of my IM client accounts via a browser tab... not ANOTHER client to have up. I need to leave the client-side apps for the ones that need to do heavy lifting... IM is not one of those IMHO. But... the idea is RIGHT ON, in that chat apps don't have to be super complicated to scale and use... and I'm sure in environments where Jabber-type clients are used frequently... your service/widget will be a welcomed addition. Best of luck!

BenC said...

The great thing about, is that it works with Meebo, so if you like meebo, you can just replace meebome with (i.e. no extra clients)..

We are working on a MSN/Yahoo version of, so hopefully down the line our users won't need jabber or meebo.