Some thoughts on iService Chat

Posted on 7/30/2013 by Scott Whitsitt in Roadmap chat features

The release of iService Chat is rapidly approaching, and its interesting for me to reflect back on the development of this new iService feature. We've been in the customer interaction space for 15 years and, although we've focused mostly on email and self-help, chat has always been something we've worked with.

We've hosted a number of third-party solutions for our clients ranging from the RightNow Web solution in the late 1990's to some boutique applications created by partners. We even hosted a cloud version of the full contact center suite (voice, email, chat) from CosmoCom about 10 years ago (see the case study).

Some of the issues we saw with these solutions gave us pause in creating our own application. For instance, the early versions of RightNow required that users run a Java applet which was often blocked. And many of the other products suffered from performance issues as they used a page reload process to check for new dialogue. These were enough for us to wait for the right technology to come along.

When Google Wave came out a few years ago, we thought perhaps this would be the Holy Grail. What a great collaboration platform, we thought. We did some early investigation but before we got very far it was clear that Google would let that one die on the vine.

A few years ago, however, we began investigating a technology that seemed like an ideal fit. A javascript based COMET server, or as some people call it reverse AJAX. If you're not familiar with the concept of AJAX its more or less a process where a web page can reload only one small portion of itself to get updates from a server. This makes the page much more responsive and in many cases it appears to function just like a desktop application. COMET servers take this one step further, and update portions of your page without the user needing to take any action at all. The section of the page reloads automatically when the server has something new for it. Sounds like an ideal solution for sending real-time message to each other!

As we near the end of the iService Chat development cycle for live chat, it really does appear that we picked a good platform for this solution. And, now that iService itself has evolved we're able to leverage all of its goodness to form a solution that is truly integrated yet exceptionally powerful. If you're an existing iService user, I think the chat process will be very intuitive for you.

We've leveraged the existing functionality developed over the years for routing and managing email interactions. The concepts of skills-based routing, service level management, and productivity tools are equally at home with live chat as they are with email response management.

If you're not an existing iService user, there's never been a better time to become one!