Can We Talk?

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Connecting e-companies with their customers is what nRealTime's suite of software applications is all about. Such applications aren't new, but what lets nRealTime stand out is the level of right-now communication the Portland-based software developer seeks to provide.

nRealTime's solutions, which offer live chat, integrated Web, e-mail and callback services, and even Voice-over IP capabilities as well as Integrated Relationship Management, let organizations increase their level of customer service as well as their internal communication processes.

"When we originally founded nRealTime, we approached it from a standpoint of what real Fortune 100 companies need to be able to address," says company founder Mark Rollag. "They need contact management, but they also need contact tools or communication tools. Then, they need process management, and then as a key to that they need it to fit within the environment they have today."

nRealTime's answer was a suite of fully integrated, scalable and customizable products that offer everything from customized reporting services to automated information gathering.

The organization's nQuire products offer Web services such as integrated Web chat, integrated callback, integrated e-mail and VoIP. The variety allows businesses to choose alternate contact methods so customers can get real-time answers to their questions. Through callback, for instance, a customer surfing the Internet can request that a product representative call him on the phone to discuss information in more detail. Through the live chat, on the other hand, a customer can access a sales or service representative and get immediate, personalized answers without leaving the company Web page, and VoIP lets customers speak directly with a representative right over the Internet.

"Customers are expecting everything to be in real time," Rollag says. "That's been the progression, from being able to call in to a company call center and have them look up their account information to where people want information in real time via the Internet."

On the other side of the nRealTime product spectrum are nTrack products, the Integrated Relationship Management tool. The solution can also be formatted to manage internal company communication, sales management information and partnership communication. Features include inquiry status tracking, which ensures all issues and inquiries are logged, tracked and resolved; integrated customer data, which integrates existing data with data captured from users; customer status viewing, which lets users track product status via the Internet; and FAQs and Knowledgebase, which let customers access information with self-help tools.

"If you take all our products, you can group them into two different tools," Rollag says. "One is the communications tool. On the other side is the workflow or business process management. In that environment, we take communications and turn that into the business-process rules the client would implement on their side."

For example, say an organization received a customer complaint that an order was incorrect. Rollag says under an organization's self-determined business processes, the complaint would go to the first level of the organization, and that level has four minutes to respond. If no response is made, the company CEO could be automatically paged to ensure the situation was handled properly.

nRealTime's solutions also offer automated business functions, Rollag says. One example could be a home equity loan application, where a customer could log on to the Internet and actually track where the application is in the loan process.

"The applications can work for really any dot com or brick-and-mortar company," Rollag says. "They can also be strictly for internal use. It could be you just want to manage internal processes or want to manage internal or external processes."

Brett Moreland, president of Redmond, Wash.-based Qualfund Lending, thinks solutions like those offered by nRealTime are the key to Internet success.

"We were looking for a way to capitalize on the Internet and we watched other online lenders fail," says Moreland, whose mortgage banking operation has been using nRealTime for about three months. "When we started analyzing that, we knew we had to do something different. And what we learned is that you need somebody to close the deal- -it doesn't matter what you're selling, you need to have customer service. I went looking to find a way to interact over the Web and basically be able to create a sales force that would use the Web to better its services."

Using nRealTime, Qualfund has been able to use its live chat abilities to garner and keep customers' interest and has improved customer satisfaction with its immediate callback and e-mail response. "That complexity of having a live person immediately available for callback or e-mail response means we get a higher close ratio out of it," Moreland says.

nRealTime isn't "built on the Web," Moreland says, "it's build around the Web. It uses the Web as a tool to make business stronger."

The programs have been so successful for Moreland that he debuted a new home equity lending company on August 1 that employs many more of nRealTime's capabilities. Snap Equity will implement "just about everything" nRealTime has to offer, including the new VoIP capabilities. The reason for the increased use, Moreland says, has to do with the loan process rather than software. The home equity loan industry is further ahead technologically than home mortgage loans, he says, which will allow Snap Equity to rely more on computerized means.

For instance, Snap Equity will allow customers to apply- -and be approved- -for loans completely over the Internet. "When we're talking to a customer, we can get approval in less than 20 seconds," Moreland says. "nRealTime takes the complexity of a financial transaction, puts a real person there and gives them the tools" to complete the transaction.

Snap Equity employees will also be able to call customers, then simultaneously allow them to log on to the Snap Equity Web page and preview the loan package. Moreland expects the pay-off to be large.

"We've had a 200-percent-plus range increase in just people coming off the Web page," he says. "The real effect is not measurable from a financial standpoint; it's just people are feeling more comfortable with us. Right now, people are so surprised, it just blows them away that they can talk to someone right away. Just by adding the human element onto our Web site, I think the return is immeasurable."

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