April 10, 1997 -- Serving Customers On-line

Transcript of the live chat session that took place Thursday, April 3, 1997, noon to 1 PM (US Eastern Time) These sessions are scheduled for noon-1 PM every Thursday.

These sessions are hosted by Richard Seltzer. If you would like to receive email reminders of our chat sessions, simply send a blank email message to or go to and sign up there.

For transcripts other previous sessions and a list of future topics, click here.

For an article on how to make "business chat" work (based on this experience), click here.

Since the chat itself happens at a rapid pace, it's often difficult to note interesting facts in particular URLs as they appear on-line. Here's a place to take a more leisurely look. I've rearranged some of the pieces to try to capture the various threads of discussion (which sometimes get lost in the rush of live chat).

Please send email with your follow-on questions and comments, and suggions for topics we should focus on in future sessions. So long as the volume of email responses is manageable, I'll post the most pertinent ones here for all to see.

Threads (reconstructed after the fact):

Today's Participants:


Richard Seltzer -- The scheduled chat is on Business on the WWW. If you are here for that discussion, please identify yourself.

We're here to share experiences about doing business on the Internet -- particularly the World Wide Web. What works? What doesn't work? Why? What are the trends that matter? How can you/should you adapt to the Internet culture and environment?

I work for the Internet Business Group at Digital Equipment in Marlboro, MA. In that capacity, I end up talking to people from large companies about how they can use the Web for business.

I also have my own personal Web page -- which is content rich and no frills -- which I do for practically nothing and draws a fair amount of traffic and attention.

Michael Quinn -- Customer service is vital to keeping customers. The web is an ideal medium to help serve customers all year round. Do you have any examples of the good use of the web to serve customers better?

river -- Hi! everybody I am in Chemical business.

Barbara Hartley Seltzer -- Hello, Richard. I am here.

Richard Seltzer -- Hello, Michael, glad you were able to connect. Hello, River, where are you? Are you using the Internet for customer service.

Tom Dadakis -- Hi Tom Dadakis, Internet Consultant, currently on assignment at IBM redesigning, organizing & stratagizing their North American websites.

Richard Seltzer -- Please introduce yourselves as you come in. Michael I know from Digital Equipment. He works in Ireland and is just completing writing a book entitled Customer Service Management Practices.

Ed Jaros -- Good Afternoon all. Ed jaros.. internet strategist at SparkNET/ Website Pros Div. in Green Bay, WI

Gaile Knust-Graichen -- Hi Richard and Everyone, This is Gaile from Digital's Multivendor services group account management.

Richard Seltzer -- Welcome, Gaile and Ed and Wayne. Gaile -- how is Digital using the Internet to provide customer service info? Is it only on a contract for a fee basis? Or are there any publicly accessible files?

Barbara Hartley Seltzer -- I work for Elcom Systems, a full-circle electronic commerce software company that develops and licenses software for business-to-business electronic catalogs.

mkane -- Hi I'm Mark and I work at a small nonprofit organization called Resolve.

Curtis Taylor -- Hi, I am Curtis Taylor of Taylor Consulting Group

Richard Seltzer -- Welcome, Curtis, what kind of consulting does your group do?

Bob@CottageMicro.Com -- Hello all. I'm an independant consultant/developer and am working with service organizations ( i.e. HelpDesk ) and small businesses to develop online support solutions.

Richard Seltzer -- Welcome, Mark and Bob. We're still basically laying out the territory here.

Kaye Vivian -- Greetings I'm a communications consultant and it's been about three weeks since I was last here. I'm glad to be back! Sorry to be late. :)

Richard Seltzer -- Welcome, Kaye, and thanks for all the great followup email
messages you've been sending.

Ed Jaros -- Glad to see you back Kaye :-)

Shane -- Hi This is Shane, I have been here before. Except it was at the old site.. Like the look of the new one good job Richard!

Richard Seltzer -- Susan -- What's your business? Do you provide service over the Web? 

Pointers to related articles and sites

Ed Jaros -- Richard... I took a look at Jim Sterne's page you recommended. Good info. I bookmarked it.

Richard Seltzer -- Ed -- Yes, I like the things that Jim Sterne says both at his Web site ( and also in his book Customer Service on the Internet. He is unable to join us today because of other commitments.

Barbara Hartley Seltzer -- Another interesting site, though I got to it by mistake, I typed "" instead of "," is Robert Tober's Marketing Higher Education. It is a different field , but a lot of his ideas can be cross referenced.

Ed Jaros -- There was a great article I pulled off of Point Cast on Digital equipment and their internet/ intranet and the savings it presented. The article was published by TechWeb on april 8th. Here's the URL Also some great info on Readers Digest's website and what costs companies are incurring with website development.

Ed Jaros -- Better yet, on that article URL if anyone wants it E-mail me and I will reply. 

Defining the territory -- serving customers on-line

Barbara Hartley Seltzer -- Customer Service is important, but what if you do not have a lot of customers. How do you provide a service for the few?

Richard Seltzer -- Welcome, Barbara. Good question. I believe that the Internet is ideally suited to providing individualized service information at reasonable cost. And long-term I'd expect to see interesting applications with remote user-coaching for service delivery using tools like CUSeeMe and inexpensive cameras.

Barbara Hartley Seltzer -- "interesting applications with remote user-coaching for service delivery using tools like CUSeeMe and inexpensive cameras" - I'm not sure I know what that means?

Richard Seltzer -- Let's try to define the territory. In my reminder notice I said we want to focus on. Serving customers on-line. Obtaining and delivering support over the
Internet. Practical advice and strategies. Do you get the maximum benefit with cost-savings from using automated response methods or from building relationships with people-intensive service delivered immediately on-line? Is there a middle ground? What
value-added services can you provide on the Web that will save costs and/or support and promote your traditional business? What value-added Web-based services could you charge for?

Richard Seltzer -- It feels like there are three major topic areas here. providing traditional customer service over the Internet (better and at lower cost) creating new revenue-generating businesses delivering fix-it service info for a fee over the Internet creating non-traditional services -- either to attract traffic or for revenue.

Richard Seltzer -- I believe that the kind of service which Digital delivers over the Internet fits into my category 1 -- doing traditional service through a new medium There are meanwhile new companies with interesting fix-it service business models like (I was hoping that they would join us today). They provide access to PC fix-it info for $3.95 per month. Bob -- Can you tell us something about the kinds of service that your clients provide and how the Internet helps, and whether it's doing old things in new ways or new business for them? 

What's needed for good customer service

Barbara Hartley Seltzer -- I would think that good customer service would provide a FAQ of frequent questions, answers, problems solutions, as well as a forum for customers to share ideas, questions, stories on what has worked, and also a place for feedback.

Bob@CottageMicro.Com -- Barbara - I agree that FAQs are a good tool, however I see too many sites that present a very large unorganized FAQ that is a turn off. I think that FAQs should be well organized, categorized and searchable to make it a more meaningful experience for viewrs.

Kaye Vivian Richard, I've enjoyed sending the followups. :) Glad they were helpful. I do remember sending two examples of "service" on the net to you, though they were not actually delivered "on" the net, but rather as E-mail service followups. It's clear that quick replies and a tone of friendly helpfulness is key in the recipient's perception of "good service". In my experience with FedEx in trying to track down a problem, all I got was a canned message that didn't address a single issue in my detailed description of the problem. I felt ignored. That is not good customer service. It might be expedient business practice (i.e., keep the overhead down by not having to hire more people to deal with messages) but it's not good customer service. It's been a month and I'm still annoyed about it!

Richard Seltzer -- Kaye -- Right on target. One of the items I pointed to in the
reminder message is "Eight Ways to Great Customer Service on the Internet" by Jim Sterne Much of customer service has to do with plain old common sense -- take the time and trouble to listen to people and answer them. It's not necessarily high tech. Plain old email can be great. You just need to be able to get to a real person.

John C Green Jr -- I hope companies doing customer service via the Web do a much better job than those that answer prospects' questions via the Web. A WSJ article reported a test they recently did. Most sites did not respond at all to questions. Most who did, sent boilerplate that did not answer the question. And this was from a few dozen BIG NAME sites.

Ed Jaros -- john.. I can't get out of here. Can you e-mail me a copy of that survey URL if you have it. Thanks :-)

Kaye Vivian -- John C...exactly! That was my FedEx experience. You are right on. 

Mechanics of this chat software

Kaye Vivian -- Sorry to ask two stupid questions, but I haven't been in an actual chat here, tho I have visited the place. (1) do new messages go to the top or bottom of the list, and (2) do I really have to wipe out my previous comment in the Message box each time? Is there no way to make it erase when sent?

Richard Seltzer -- Kaye -- Be sure you have selected Frames. That works best.
Messages go to the top of the list. Click on "clear form" before typing a new message.

Mark -- Hi I'm Mark from Resolve. I fairly new to chatting online. Please excluse me for asking a newbie question. I like your chat setup. It's pretty ergonomic. But one
thing that all chat clients seem to do is add new messages to the top of the list. To read new message you scroll downwards. The result is that you're always reading messages in reverse chronological order. I wonder if there's a better way to do it?

Wayne Jacoby -- Mark, I agree with you. As I jumped in-and out, it would be easier to keep with things if the order were reversed.

Richard Seltzer -- Mark -- I've seen it both top to bottom and bottom to top, and from a user point of view, putting the new ones on top does seem to work best.

Kaye Vivian -- Mark, thanks for that comment! I find this layout extremely difficult to work with. The format at least jumped you to the last message you read when the refresh happened. I find that I don't know where I am and have to keep scrolling up and down and I miss messages. It's a lot slower and less spontaneous. For me anyway.

Barbara Hartley Seltzer -- Rich, I am getting use to this new Chat. I had more difficulty last week keeping up, but I think I've fixed the kinks. I have my refresh rate at 0 and my messages rate at 20. I haven't missed anything this week like I did last week.

Kaye Vivian -- Oops..quick comment...Didn't it used to be shown here when someone entered or left the room? I would like it to show when people leave if possible...hard to tell when things are over. :)

Richard Seltzer -- Kaye -- Yes, the first week we did this it showed all the comings and goings, but that got very confusing. Just click on View Occupants.

Use of Web for delivery of traditional customer service

Richard Seltzer -- Michael and Gayle -- Can you tell us something about how the Web/Internet can help in the delivery of traditional customer service? Any stats on cost savings, etc.? Any tips on techniques?

Gaile Knust-Graichen -- Digital's multivendor service organization prvides Web Access to software patches - there is a public access area where patches can be downloaded by anyone. We also have a service area (requires access ID) where we provide a more extensive collection of patches, symptom/solution data, problem submission, etc.
The site is at

Richard Seltzer -- Gaile -- Is access to the "extensive collection" limited to those with service contracts? Or can someone who doesn't have a full-blown service contract pay just for access to the Web-based info? If the later, about what does it cost?

Gaile Knust-Graichen -- One of the benefits of Web access by our service customers is that they can submit a problem any time and check on the status of it on-line. This eliminates waiting on the phone or wiaitng until business hours to phone somoeone. Digital also benefits because the problem can go direct to the right specialist versus being qualified by a call screener. It also typically provides more details on the question/problem because the customer tyically wants to provide as much information as possible in writing.

Richard Seltzer -- Gaile -- Any stats on Digital's cost savings from providing info over the Web rather than by phone?

Gaile Knust-Graichen -- Richard, Right now, Web access to all of the symptom/solution, all of the patches, are tied to a phone support agreement. Most of our service customers prefer to have both phone and electronic access to cover their needs.

Gaile Knust-Graichen -- Richard, Exact cost savings I cannot provide other than to say that when we first made software patches available via the Web a couple of years ago we saved A LOT of $. The cost savings came from the elimination of the patch on media kits we built/sent everytime a customer needed a patch. We also improved customer satisfaction because they could download the patch immediately and no wait for next day mail. 

Customer service for free?

Barbara Hartley Seltzer -- I think customer service should be free, at least in regard to big companies. They have an obligation to help their customers and good customer service leads to more sales.

Richard Seltzer -- Barbara -- In the best of all possible worlds all products would be simple and wouldn't break. In the computer business -- especially large computers -- service is an important part of the revenue stream. Keep in mind that over time, as products become increasingly reliable, less and less of service revenue is for break-and-fix. The vast majority of Digital's service is value-added consulting, systems integration, custom work of various kinds. Also, Digital is in the business of not just fixing its own stuff, but also fixing products made by other vendors (hence "multi-vendor services.)

Kaye Vivian -- Barbara, I agree it should be free. Are we talking about customer service actually performed online (for example, Compuserve's service where you can actually get a live person online to answer questions during working hours, rather than wait for an E-mail response 12 hours later) or are we talking about traditional customer service such as answering questions and handling complaints via E-mail? Are there any companies who are actually filling customer service request live, online in real time?

Barbara Hartley Seltzer -- I also think that customer information should be separated from prospect information should be separated from partner information. There should be no password to get into a general page of info on a company, but customer passwords and partner passwords for use by customers and partners only. Some of the information is for their respective eyes only and you want them to feel they are getting something that the general public can't.

Ed Jaros -- barbara... Interesting idea. 

Use of chat, forums, video conferencing etc. vs. newsgroups for customer service

Shane -- Just A Thought On customer Service... One idea that may be good is on a tech-support page possibly have a button to enter into a chat area (Like this One or something similar) where tech/customer reps are able to answer questions, do you all think that this could be possible. Sorry if it may be off topic

Shane -- Just A Thought On customer Service... Cont.. This could eventually lead to recognition on the net as a leader in on-line support, this could eventually lead to video conferencing support etc. The areas could range from computer/software/hardware problems to Fixing a vcr. I am sure that there could be some tracking of different people who log on..

Bob@CottageMicro.Com -- Shane - I've shyed away from public chat support because of the volumes of people and the "riff-raf" that pop in. Newsgroup support with moderation from technical personnel is another viable solution. I have have fair results on some of Microsofts developer support groups.

Shane -- Bob, You did try it before? For a smaller company it might be feasible, I have never tried it before but I have often thought about it... It might be a good Marketing research tool also, record the chat sessions and then look at them later for ideas new products etc

Richard Seltzer -- Shane, I like the idea of chat and forum for service. Wish there were more of it happening. But it takes some scheduling and discipline and some on-line skills to make that work. Best with chat rooms with specific topics scheduled and experts on-line at particular times. Use Forum and email for the anytime at all type question.

Kaye Vivian -- Bob, good point. The only problem with moderated newsgroup support is that it's slow and if-fy. Maybe you'll get a reply in a timely way, maybe not. I'm thinking of an experience I had (again on Compuserve..that must be on my mind today!) in one of the Gamers forums. I'm a Magic: the Gathering player and collector and the Wizards of the Coast group (makers of Magic) have a moderated forum on Compuserve. The woman who is the primary Wizards of the Coast representative to that forum is in and out of that forum about three times a day, and every single comment or question has at least one personal (and timely) reply from her. It's not live service, but it's pretty darned close. And you feel much better knowing that Beth is reading all the feel somehow that the issues being raised by people who care about their product are filtering their way back to the people who can react appropriately. It may be an illusion, but it's a nice illusion. :)

Barbara Hartley Seltzer -- I was thinking more in lines of customers talking to customers and fixed suggestions and e-mailing to the company any problems or concerns, but the idea of a customer service rep being on line in real time is a good one, i.e., a chat session for customers and the company. I would think a fixed time would be necessary. I don't think a company would allow a rep to just sit by the computer waiting for someone to ask a question.

Richard Seltzer -- Barbara -- I agree about the need to schedule time for real-time chat. Forums (bulletin board things) and email can handle the random questions.
And yes, there could be two kinds of service areas at a site. One is for general questions from the public -- the quick question and answer that people would normally use a phone for (or dig through the documentation). The more complex and consulting type of service could and should be for a fee and handled separately (probably with password access).

Ed Jaros -- Barbara... maybe along with answering questions they could surf for competitive info, monitor newsgroups, and keep tabs on what's being said about their company on the net. Ms. Fields Cookies had a 2% decrease in sales before they found out about a rumor that they supplied cookies to OJ Simpsons party after the trial.

Bob@CottageMicro.Com-- Kaye - Excellent point on slow response Again the response is under our control. I recently started a newsgroup at news2.startextnet.investment which I moderate. I review and respond on a daily basis. As it grows that may change.

Gaile Knust-Graichen -- Our service customers have access to a forum area - more like a BBS where questions/answers can be posted. There is not a lot of activity there. Our service customers still seem to prefer the direct to specialist route where guaranteed responses are available.

Richard Seltzer -- Gaile -- For service that is paid for, I'd expect that customers would want and expect direct personal contact. I think that the real advantage of Forums is for the free kind of service -- the FAQ kind of info, the info that's in the documentation (but perhaps not as clear as it could be) -- fielding those kinds of questions -- from the entire world, has to be a significant cost; and providing that info in free Forums accessible by the world could probably cut those costs.

Kaye Vivian -- Gaile, you raised a good point when you said "there's not a lot of activity there." I happen to like forums and this type of communication a lot. It's available to me at times that it's convenient to me and I don't have to be on call instantly, like you need to be with a phone call. I have started two forums myself, both private groups, and I moderate them both, visiting at least twice each day. The problem I see with these moderated forums is what you said...inactivity. I think forum communication is a new medium to most users and they don't even think to use it. I am constantly nudging people to check the Board, to answer messages on the Board, to be sure there is fresh information there regularly. It's a very time consuming process with little payback. But it's clear that building that community or core group of users who *will* frequent a forum is the key to its success. That and substance to the messages posted. Companies who want to create an active user group need to be prepared to spend some time/money in cultivating the people who do use that type of forum and then getting the word out to others about the forum. Another example...I might not visit HotWired's online forums regularly, but when they have a topic that zings me, I'm in the forum for more discussion or to get information immediately! 

On-line vs. personal phone interactions

Susan Burgholzer -- The objective of any customer support is to enhance customer loyalty. Can on-line services have the same impact on customer loyalty as live, personal phone interactions?

Shane -- Susan.. Excellent Thought! I think it may all depend on the product and the products preception?

Kaye Vivian -- Susan, I think online services *can* enhance customer loyalty. If handled in a timely and thoughtful way, moderated forums (especially company sponsored forums) can be very effective...both at building a user community who can do a lot of the leg work in terms of answering each other's questions and in creating customer loyalty.

Richard Seltzer -- Susan -- Yes, I believe that on-line interactions -- if direct and personal -- can improve customer loyalty and satisfaction. I hate automated email response just as much as I hate having to wade through an enormous menu of telephone message choices and then end up with nothing of use. Whenever possible, keep it personal and targeted -- however you deliver the info. That takes more people, but is well worth it (in my opinion). (To keep down cost, use Forums too and let users help one another, like in a user group).

Richard Seltzer -- Kaye -- Looks like we're thinking the same kinds of things and typing them at the same time. :-)

How to convince management

Barbara Hartley Seltzer -- There seems to be a benefit to allowing customers access to your web, but how do you convince your company to do more than just the minimal, ie, FAQ's and Bug Feedbacks?

Shane -- Barbara. I think a great way to talk management into developing the website more would be to put on your website a real simple online survey for visitors to fill out. Then give a presentation to management about your on-line experiment..

Kaye Vivian -- Barbara, Maybe the thing to do is create a master list of URLs of sites where companies *are* doing something more than the minimal FAQ's and "contact us here" sort of service. Maybe you could have a show-and-tell meeting with key people and demonstrate the concepts you want to convey, using the actual sites. I would do my homework...find a lively thread on a forum board that's working, pick an example of the kind of problem your company's users might have and then go to a site that is handling it well. If you can make the issues real for your meeting group by showing them real issues your customers might have and then linking right to a site where something similar is being handled in an effective way, they might see the value in expanding beyond the obvious. 

New Kinds of Services?

Richard Seltzer -- So far it seems like we've only talked about type #1 -- providing traditional fix-it-related service info on the Web. Is anyone providing more than info? (E.g., videoconference type things where a repair person and a person with a problem can see and show?) Is anyone creating new service businesses on the Internet?
(e.g. is the only outfit trying to provide service info on all kinds of PCs over the Web?)

John C Green Jr -- Richard, was it Frank Cohen of that didn't show?

Richard Seltzer -- John Green -- I don't remember the person at
But it was a woman that I met at their booth at Internet World a few weeks ago.

Bob@CottageMicro.Com -- Richard - I am developing a service brokerage business for the WEB. Service Companies recieve trouble tickets received from the WEB for a per ticket price. End users can fill in a trouble ticket 24x7 and it is forwarded to a service org in their zipcode either via email or fax.

Barbara Hartley Seltzer -- Bob, what are trouble tickets? What industry do they address?

Service at Kodak

John Vaeth -- This is actually John Vaeth From Eastman Kodak (Hi Richard.)
Our business supports both traditional photographic products as well as our new digital imaging products. We are looking for ways to expand our support offerrings on the WEB.

Ed Jaros -- John, Have you ever considered developing digital film on regular pictures. Would be great if i could download my digital camera's pics to your site, have them developed, and you mail them back to me.

Kaye Vivian -- John, it's also clear that in a company like Kodak, it becomes necessary to put a lot of free samples up to entice the visitors to come and explore as well.

Shane -- Good Idea John.. That could also stem other types of services off of that. Brochure creation etc.

Richard Seltzer -- Kaye -- I see you addressing "john" and mentioning Kodak.
I may have missed some messages along the way. I was hoping that John Vaeth of Kodak could join us today (he's their online customer services guru). If you are there John, sorry I missed what you said in the rush of things. It will be included in the transcript, which I'll be editing later today. Check

Kaye Vivian --Richard, yes, it was John Vaeth at Eastman Kodak. It's really difficult to find your place when you have to scroll backwards through these messages. I wish there were a marker so you didn't have to search! :) 


Shane -- Perhaps something like webtv could introduce other types of services other than hardware/software kind of solutions, A sort of infomercial maybe? 

Examples of good on-line customer service

Ed Jaros -- Richard.. A large Trucking company here in Green Bay has shown good savings by pointing people with questions to their home page rather than mailing out info. Printing and postage savings they say add up. To clairfy... not existing customers but people calling in for general info. Students and the like.
Kaye Vivian -- Richard, one last thing. I signed up for Expedia Travel this week. It's a great service and their customer service/response has been fantastic. CHeck it out. They may have a great customer service (electronic) story to tell soon. 


Barbara Hartley Seltzer -- I'm getting some really good ideas here. Thanks.

Richard Seltzer -- I think we've just barely gotten started on this topic and should continue next week. Please let me know how you feel. I also believe that it could be most productive if you could email me your suggestions of sites that

I'll include those messages with the edited transcript.

Richard Seltzer -- All -- Time is running out. I will stick around for a while to field some more comments and questions, but most folks probably have to move on. You can reach me by email at Look for the transcripts at

Shane -- WOW.. Time flies when you are having fun...

Richard Seltzer -- Thanks to all for your participation. Hope you can join us again next week at the same site at the same time noon to 1 PM US Eastern Daylight Savings Time. Please spread the word and invite others who might be able to contribute here or benefit from the discussion.

Richard Seltzer -- All -- if you didn't include your email and URL when you
signed on, please post it now as a message so we can keep in touch.

Kaye Vivian -- See you next week. :) Thanks and bye.

Barbara Hartley Seltzer -- I won't be able to attend next week, but I will be back in two weeks. I look forward to the transcript.

Shane -- I look forward to meeting you all again next week!!! I do hope that I can keep coming back.. I have recently switched jobs and have been unable to keep up See Ya All Later!!!

Richard Seltzer -- Thanks for joining us Shane. What's your new job?

Michael Quinn -- Is there anyone still logged on?

Kaye Vivian -- Hi Michael...we are just leaving :( Come back next Thursday. :)

Richard Seltzer -- Hi, Michael, I'm still here. And you can click on "view Occupants".
Saw your message at the beginning. Sorry you weren't here for the main discussion. Can you join us next week for the continuation? I'll be posting the transcript tonight.

Bob@CottageMicro.Com -- Before everyone leaves .. I'd like to request GOOD/BAD experiences that you have had with receiving support on the Intenet. Maybe in the followups to Richard. Thanks !

Richard Seltzer -- Bob -- Good suggestion regarding good/bad experiences. I'll ask that in the memo I send out telling folks that the transcript is posted.

Kaye Vivian -- Bob, you can read two of mine in attachments to previous transcripts.

Kaye Vivian -- Now I really *am* leaving. :) Thanks all. Have a good week.

John C Green Jr -- Bye now.

Richard Seltzer -- Further thought -- we have at various times touched a little bit on the notion of what kind of service/responsiveness to visitors should a Web site provide -- in other words, service not in the sense of product service, but rather in the sense of Web-site service. I believe that should be part of the discussion, and good/bad examples of that as well would be welcome. 


Time zones, daylight savings time and connection problems

From: Date: 10 Apr 1997 14:15:16 EDT

Well, since the US went into daylight savings time and Argentina didn't I was late to the chat. I arrived for the good byes....

I'll be there next week.

One contribution about good/bad service. There seems to be something wrong with how my bank has my credit card registered and many on-line servces reject it. But the bad poart is that no one can tell me exactly what is wrong so the bank can fix it. This seems to be some kind of canned service many on line systems use so they don't get much feedback about problems.


Gaston Groisman

Time Zone Problems and Next Week's Topic

From: Richard Seltzer Date: 4/11/97

Please keep in mind that Massachusetts has gone to daylight savings time. So our time is noon to 1 PM Eastern Daylight Savings Time (in the US). Unfortunately, someone in Ireland, another in Argentina, and two from India connected at the wrong time because of this confusion. In the future, we'll post the time in Greenwich Meantime as well at the site (and as soon as I figure out what that is I'll include that in my reminder messages as well).

Next Thursday, April 17, we'll continue our discussion on serving customers on-line.

In the meantime, please send me email with your suggestions/comments regarding best/worst use of the Internet for customer service (using the Internet to provide product support); and also best/worst service for a Web site (ability to get answers/info regarding a Web site and the services offered there).

We'd also welcome URLs of related articles, for background reading.

While we will of course continue to talk about using the Internet to deliver traditional customer support info, we'd also like as many instances as we can find of new service-related businesses that take advantage of the unique capabilities of the Web. Also new service-related business models. And also any instances of using the multimedia capabilities of the Web to have service techs step customers through installation and fix-it procedures.

As usual, I'll add relevant messages to the transcript.

NB: Remember to connect to our new site, at our regular time -- noon to 1 PM US Eastern DAYLIGHT Time.

-- Richard Seltzer

Time Zone Help

From: Tracy Marks <> Date: Fri, 11 Apr 1997 17:45:37 -0400

>Please keep in mind that Massachusetts has gone to daylight savings time. So our time is noon to 1 PM Eastern Daylight Savings Time (in the US). Unfortunately, someone in Ireland, another in Argentina, and two from India connected at the wrong time because of this confusion. In the future, we'll post the time in Greenwich Meantime as well at the site (and as soon as I figure out what that is I'll include that in my reminder messages as well).

I have a second site now on Web cameras, ( and recently put up time zone information to help people negotiate time differences. Looked into a dozen different time zone sites on the Net and liked these two the best. They keep up with daylight savings time, and are easy to use.

The Time Zone Page

The World Clock

You might want to post these urls with your chat information so that people in different time zones can negotiate meetings more easily. It can be confusing!

Best, Tracy Marks 

Explanations of Search Engines

From: Ed Jaros <> Date: Thu, 10 Apr 1997 17:43:39 -0500

You may already know of this site but if not be sure to check it out. It's by far the best and most extensive search engine explanatory I've seen on the web. If you know of any better please let me know as I enjoy this stuff.

Note the new e-mail address. I'll be using it from now on for personal stuff.

Great chat today. Thanks for the forum as always.

Ed Jaros, Internet Strategist

Reading on Internet Advertising

From: "Kaye Vivian, ABC" <> Date: Tue, 15 Apr 1997 19:48:39 -0400

Here we go again! :)

I follow one link and it leads me to three more that lead me to 10 more and then I have to send you yet another reference! :)

This one's in Web Review Magazine "A Thumbnail History of Internet Advertising" (

It has links to other Internet advertising web resources:

More bedside reading... :)


Email coverage of Web Advertising '97

Web Advertising '97 was mentioned in one of our chats about on-line advertising. Apparently on-line coverage will be available from I-Advertising Digest ( ) and the Internet News Bureau (

The event takes place April 21 & 22 in Monterey, California.

To subscribe, send email to In the BODY of your message, put: SUBSCRIBE WEBADVERTISING-97

-- Richard Seltzer

AT&T Survey on Web Advertising

From: "Kaye Vivian, ABC" <> Date: Tue, 15 Apr 1997 19:16:26 -0400

I came across this reference in my surfing. Even though we have moved on in our discussions, it still seemed too interesting to let it lie there unforwarded! :) It was on the Interbiznet web site [article from April 14 -- it will probably be moved to their Archives soon ]

This summary is (I think) by John Blower of 1st Steps: Marketing and Design Daily. It was difficult for me to tell who should get the proper citation on this one... :)

Kaye Vivian

It begins -- "According to AT&T's new study on electronic commerce, 40 percent of Americans plan to buy products online during the coming year, but less than half of American businesses have Web sites to push their products.

"When it comes to electronic commerce, consumers are ready to buy but business are not ready to sell...."

Previous transcripts and schedule of upcoming chats --

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The full text of Richard Seltzer's books The Social Web, Take Charge of Your Web Site, Shop Online the Lazy Way, and The Way of the Web, plus more than a hundred related articles are available on CD ROM My Internet: a Personal View of Internet Business Opportunities.

Web Business Boot Camp: Hands-on Internet lessons for manager, entrepreneurs, and professionals by Richard Seltzer (Wiley, 2002). No-nonsense guide targets activities that anyone can perform to achieve online business
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