Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Web Greeters a Good Idea?

I went to visit Verne Harnish's Gazelles site tonight. I'm not familiar with Harnish or Gazelles, but was referred by Gary Hoover of Hoovers Online and Bookstop among other interesting ventures. After a quick scan of Gazelles, I clicked over to another application. Within a few minutes the window shown here appeared. It was accompanied by a very sexy female voice saying "Welcome." It was almost midnight. My first thought was, "POPUP! How did my browser miss this?" As it turns out, this is a mini chat window provided by WebGreeters.com. Webgreeters.com turns out to be some sort of index/search engine--like those irritating index pages you get when you type a URL wrong. After querying "Jenny" about the service, she politely asked me if I wanted information on the Website Greeter Program from LiveAdmins. This is where the real info is. Is this a good idea? Jenny was polite enough, and augmented by the uber-sexy "welcome" every time the window re-appeared, I had to work really hard not to ask her, "what are you wearing right now?" But, it felt a little... creepy. I'm fairly technical, but I wonder how she was able to start a java session in a separate window without my browser complaining (and why can't blogger get past that hurdle when I spell check my posts). On the other hand, I was interacting with a human being as part of my surfing experience. This is what we're working toward. I'll look more closely at Harnish's site out of professional curiosity. I'm not sure everyone would. I wonder if this is as good for Gazelles as it is for LiveAmdins. Jenny was somewhat persistent at trying to get me in touch with a sales executive. Ultimately, this window appearing on my desktop violated the rules of the implied trust system I expect each site to honor. I'll talk more about trust systems as a key component of building customer communities. When I appear to have a problem completing a purchase or am looking for customer support, the window might be appropriate. I give Gazelles.com points for trying new things. I take points away for not establishing and following a trust system for their community of visitors.

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