SightMax brings live chat customer service to the iPhone

iphone-pics-065On the road? Want to check your website’s traffic? Better yet, answer live chat requests from your online customers? Now you can. SmartMax, a company that provides online live chat and monitoring support for businesses, recently introduced an app for the iPhone that will allow you to do just that: iMaximo SightMax Live Chat. We tested the app this week, and were extremely impressed with its capabilities. It plugs into SmartMax’s existing server product, the SightMax Installable Live Chat and Monitoring product. SightMax (the server software) provides online businesses with the ability to monitor the traffic of their website, and to embed a Live Chat box within the site. Users click on the chat box to speak with a live customer service representative.

Live chat support software has been around for awhile, and is becoming increasingly prevalent as a way to cut service costs while reaching more customers more quickly. iMaximo (the iPhone app) is a fantastic addition to an already useful business product. Now, you can log in and answer live chat requests while you’re on the go. Simply open the app and you get a view of all of the traffic (identified by IP address and location) on your site, as well as any open conversations that your customer service representatives are having with customers. You can view those conversations, or start your own with customers on your site who are waiting for a rep to become available. Furthermore, you can open a direct chat with one ofyour customer service representatives that is currently logged into SightMax.

Clearly, you wouldn’t actually replace your customer service rep’s keyboard and mice with an iPhone. The productivity decrease alone wouldn’t be worth it. However, if you have traveling salespeople or are yourself away on business, this is a great way to keep your tabs on site traffic without having to plug in that clunky laptop and find a WiFi connection. In our tests, we found that the app worked perfectly over 3G, though EDGE was a bit too slow for sustained customer engagement. The UI was extremely intuitive, and as long as you’re OK with the iPhone keyboard (I still think its better than a physical blackberry keyboard), you should find it an effective app for chatting with customers about their issues.

iphone-pics-061That said, the use cases for this are likely to be small, and the app will primarily sell to reps of SMB’s whose salespeople put on many different hats or to mid-level managers who need to keep appraised of their customer service team’s performance while out of the office. Nonetheless, if you are a small-town realtor who wants to engage with more of your customers, or a small online chocolate shop wanting to provide excellent customer service, this app may be a good addition to your online engagement portfolio.

Another great feature are the sound notifications built into the app. If a salesperson sends you a direct instant message or a new customer logs in, you are notified via a bell sound. Though this is useful, I found one major feature to be missing: push notification. If I was a traveling salesperson, I would want my fellow customer service representatives to be able to ping me with a question or to be notified of any open chat request from a customer that is not likely to be filled by my existing reps. We are told that functionality may not be available until the end of the summer, or later, and I don’t know if iMaximo could be complete without it.

The iPhone app comes at $40 per operator, and the cost of the server-side software is $300 for one operator or $1000 for ten operators. SightMax also has installable software that provides live chat support for mid and large-sized businesses. Additionally, you can outsource the hosting to SmartMax via its SightMax OnDemand SaaS product. An iPhone app that talks to the SaaS product is coming soon. At $20 per month for one operator, small companies can use SightMax’s SaaS offering without the hassles of setting up and maintaining their own server. Even if you don’t have any need for it, it is incredible the utility that the iPhone can provide to enterprise users, and iMaximo is another example of a company actualizing that potential.