I remember a job I had as a journalist – right out of grad school. The publishers/owners of the magazine I was editing were “old school” guys. I mean, they didn’t have a web site until 2002 – seriously. So, when I asked them early on in my tenure how to reach them via IM I was given that sideways puppy dog look…
So, not only were these guys not hip to what IM was all about (in 1998 no less), they were actually against it once I explained it to them. “A waste of time…an annoyance” were the kinds of words used. And that was not all that uncommon. Several of my early employers forbid the use of IM – for various reasons.
Fast forward to 2008, and it seems IM is everywhere in the corporate world. Some companies even sprung up (not to huge success) creating private IM platforms so companies could rest assured that information was not leaving the company’s firewall.
Instant messaging has come a long way – as this article attests to. With greater web-based applications in general these days, embedded chat is easier to promote. There is less reliance on closed platforms like AIM and MS Messenger and people can simply communicate right inside the app itself. Google chat seemed to lead the way, but I see a lot more applications – business apps that is – following Google’s lead.
SugarCRM itself is taking a hard look at embedded chat. It makes a ton of sense in a CRM perspective, and it frankly surprises me that only CRM specialists like “support automation” vendors have had chat for years.
Instant chat capabilities allow for seamless customer support escalation. B2B sales agents selling complicated product sets can walk customers through catalogs and product assortments online (without making an expensive on-site visit). And of course, marketing opportunities exist with IM embeded in a customer-facing web site.