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September 22, 1998


By CBR Staff Writer

Acuity Corp, once known as Ichat Corp, has added an entry-level product to its WebCenter line of web-based customer service applications. Unlike its predecessor, WebCenter Enterprise (CI No 3,421), WebCenter Express is priced for and targeted at small and medium-sized businesses. The product offers self-help to customers of ecommerce sites through a searchable, browsable engine, as well as live help through the company’s traditional core competency, chat. In addition, the software can synchronize browsers to push specific content to a customer. Acuity’s Dean Cruse says research has found that many people who come to web sites looking to buy are leaving before they actually make a purchase. He quotes Yankelovich Partners’ finding that 63% of internet users won’t buy online until the experience is more of a human interaction, whatever that means. Easy enough to see what it means for vendors: Once you get a sales person involved in a live interaction, more deals get closed and transaction values go up, thanks to cross-selling and upselling opportunities, Cruse says. It’s not just about increasing sales, though. Acuity is stressing the savings-driven angle in order to move WebCenter. If I can reduce the number of routine calls coming into my call center, says Cruse, Forrester says I can drive 40% to 50% of the cost per contact out of the equation. The price point for WebCenter Express reflects its comparatively modest scope. The Enterprise edition starts at $125,000 with an average sale around $300,000 to $400,000, while Express implementations start at $7995 and are expected to average $10,000.

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