AskUs is a program that allows you to chat with your customers for service and sales. Sign up, add a bit of HTML to your web site, and instantly you can accept chat requests from your visitors or invite visitors to chat. Since AskUs is a hosted solution, there are no additional requirements from your hosting provider.

Supplementing your existing customer support and service channels with Online Customer Service lowers your costs and increases your customers' level of satisfaction.

When offered the opportunity to click a link to chat with an agent, alongside your existing 800 number and call center, many of your customers will choose a chat over a call.

Generally, a single agent can have simultaneous one-on-one sessions with between three and six customers. Your customers get an experience they prefer over a phone call, and your cost-per-customer is lowered.

When a visitor on your site clicks the launch link, a chat session is started using the AskUs Chat Client. The chat client is the fundamental component of AskUs that facilitates communication between you and your site visitors. It is 100% browser-based, requiring no plug-ins or Java. It is compatible with all modern browsers. It loads in moments, with a sleak interface that is entirely customizable.

The AskUs Control Center runs on staff members' computers. Once logged in, staff members will see a list of visitors to your site, a list of other staff members, and chats. Any staff can accept an incoming chat request, and then enters a chat session with that visitor.

Here are some key features of "AskUsChat":

■ Welcome visitors to your site and introduce them to products they may be interested in

■ Answer questions as shoppers are browsing your e-Commerce enabled site

■ Multiple sales staff can collaborate to best serve customers

■ Multiple requests can be handled simultaneously by a single customer care agent

■ Store categorized lists of common responses to questions

■ Requests can be transferred, surveys can be included before and after the request

■ Supplement your existing call center with Online Customer Care with simple instructions

■ Try it 15 days free to experience the benefits with no up-front costs

■ Scalable from a single representative up to enterprise-level support center

■ The visitor chat client does not require your visitors to download any plug-ins or ActiveX controls, and it does not use Java. Typically, web chat clients utilize Java which has severe problems when it reaches the visitor's browser. Others require users to agree to a download in order to chat, which is often disabled by the administrator of their network. Still more users will simply click "No" if they are presented with a choice. This prevents a large portion of users from being able to have a positive experience. AskUs does not use Java or any type of plug-in, but provides an experience that is both user friendly and modern-feeling. The chat client loads very fast, it connects almost instantly even over a dialup connection.

■ The chat client takes advantage of features found in modern browser versions, but it includes a special mode for browsers that don't have those features. This is called compatibility mode, as it ensures compatibility with 100% of browsers without detracting from the experience by using a lowest-common-denominator approach seen elsewhere. Nearly all of your visitors will experience the usual chat window, compatibility mode ensures those visitors using an obscure browser will not be left in the dark.

■ You choose exactly how the launch link images and chat client look. Customizations are made easy through the administrative web panel. Change images (or HTML) within the chat client, preview your changes, and then one click of the "Publish" button modifies your files without any need for FTP or knowledge of HTML.

■ While a user is browsing your site, you may invite them to chat at any time.

■ You can open a browser on the users computer, and then point that browser to a location, offering your visitors a guided tour.

■ Each of your agents can have a photo associated with their profile, which will be displayed in the chat client when a session is assigned to them or they invite a visitor to chat. This provides a more personal experience.

■ In all versions, messages are encrypted with 128-bit SSL encryption. The launch link can be SSL-enabled so that your visitors do not get a security warning if you add it to SSL-secured areas of your site.