eBay's Service Goes to the Bots

Use of virtual agents to solve user issues rolls out on U.S. site.

by Auctiva.com staff writer
- Apr 09, 2010

eBay users in North America may have recently noticed a change in the way the marketplace delivers on-site support.

In the past, users could send a message to customer service based on a fixed menu of issues that may or may not have been relevant to the actual problem. Now, clicking "Contact Us" on the Help page initiates a screening process using an automated customer support agent—known as a bot. Through a series of questions, the bot interprets the user's input to try and suggest a solution before passing them on to a live customer service representative.

The virtual agent technology, developed by VirtuOz, has recently been rolled out on eBay in the U.S. and Canada. eBay has worked with VirtuOz for more than two-and-a-half years, and has already deployed the technology on its sites in France, Germany and the U.K. eBay says it will introduce the customer service bots on additional sites.

"When a customer has a problem, we want to resolve it as quickly as possible," says Scott Murray, eBay's vice president of customer service. "VirtuOz enables us to more effectively resolve users' issues and drive greater customer satisfaction."

Using automated help is also expected to cut customer support costs. Last year, the company shut down a call center in Vancouver, Canada, reducing its payroll by 700 jobs.

About the Author

Auctiva staff writers constantly monitor trends and best practices of those selling on eBay and elsewhere online. They attend relevant training seminars and trade shows and regularly discuss the market with PowerSellers and other market experts.

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