Customer Service Site Looks To New Technology For ‘Answers’

Online customer feedback company unveiled a new service Wednesday that claims to take customer interaction to a new level by learning as it goes.

The new AnswerBase service uses a pre-programmed set of questions and answers to give a company’s customers specific answers that are based on company information.

The AnswerBase can then respond to questions “almost immediately,” the company says, and “learn” over time as additional questions are asked and answered.

Competing with FAQs, Jeeves

The service is both more specific than standard “Frequently Asked Questions” lists and more efficient than e-mail-based responses to customer inquiries, says.

Additionally, the company claims that the technology is better than a search engine because users can type in a specific question and will reply with a specific answer.

The service will also provide answers to related questions, and its ability to fine-tune its answers to questions as more are asked is designed to help ensure that customers get specific help for their needs. works directly with a company’s existing customer service providers, including toll-free phone staff and people-monitoring live chat areas on the site. filters through the frequently asked questions consumers have, answering the ones it can and referring the others to the company’s live customer service representatives.

“This service will not only cut down on the number of expensive calls clients receive to their 800 number, it will also cut down on the number of e-mails that are sent to the site,” says.

Product of idealab! launched in 1996 as one of idealab!’s first projects, a question and answer site that preceded, but eventually failed to keep pace with, more well known sites like Ask Jeeves.

Net Shepherd, Inc., a Canadian company, bought and re-launched the site this week with a new focus on providing customer service question and answer help for online businesses. NSI uses an Internet-based community of “Distributed Task Forces” to hunt for information on the Web and supply answers to questions posed at the consumer site.

The company will use the same service to provide answers to generic questions sent to a corporate client’s Web site. says it is one of the only sites that provides a direct response to a question, rather than a link to another site. “Businesses are turning to online solutions for every aspect of operations. This new technology allows them to use the Internet to improve customer service and save the company money,” CEO Bill Fogg said.

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