MGM Adds Real-Time E-Commerce Support

Online service provider PeopleSupport.com announced Monday that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (NYSE: MGM) will add real-time customer service to MGM’s online store in April, using PeopleSupport’s “Live Help Now” service. The statement indicates that MGM will become the first major movie studio to provide live, online customer assistance and sales support.

This move reflects a growing trend toward e-commerce sites expanding their customer service and sales support options. While some e-commerce sites still rely solely on e-mail for answering questions, the more successful stores generally offer toll-free phone service and/or online support.

Lance Rosenzweig, PeopleSupport’s chairman and president, summed up the advantages of online support, noting that, “People don’t want to wait for a reply to their e-mail [and] they don’t want to hang up their Internet connection to use the phone for ordering.”

Though many shoppers will still prefer to call by phone, this type of online help service is especially of interest for home users and others who use their main telephone line for Internet access.

MGM’s Plans for E-Commerce Support

Under the terms of this week’s agreement, MGM will add PeopleSupport’s logo-branded “Live Help Now” button to its Web pages where online shoppers may want to ask questions about the products available for sale. “By using the PeopleSupport customer care engine, MGM’s customers will have their questions answered in real-time, without leaving the MGM Web site,” said Lance Rosenzweig.

Using a customer service solution that is entirely Internet-based will help MGM streamline its e-commerce operation, and possibly even replace its existing toll-free telephone support service.

“Recognizing the extraordinary growth in online shopping, it was essential that we implement a process that best could accommodate consumers efficiently,” said MGM’s Craig Parsons, senior vice president, Corporate Communications and Investor Relations. By adopting PeopleSupport’s service, he expects that MGM’s online store can more easily achieve sales objectives, while satisfying customers’ needs on the Web.

The MGM online store offers a variety of videos and DVDs from the company’s library of more than 8,000-title films and videos. This week’s announcement also indicates that the e-commerce site will soon start offering logo-branded clothes and products related to MGM films and television shows.

How Online Service Works

When choosing the online help option, a customer is usually first prompted to provide basic information, such as name, address, phone number, order number, and e-mail address. Next, a customer can be sent to a searchable Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page, which may answer the question. If not, the user can open the door to live help, or submit an e-mail request.

Connecting to a live customer service agent means opening up a pop-up chat interface in a user’s web browser that displays a text chat box and a URL window. In the window, a PeopleSupport representative conducts a one-on-one dialogue with the customer so the person never leaves the Web site. The person can choose to receive an e-mail copy of the entire session transcript (including URL locations) for future reference.

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