A helping Internet hand for shoppers, via Israeli tech

US-based LivePerson does all its R&D work in Israel, and even trades on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange

A typical LivePerson-powered live help chat popup box on a web site (Photo credit: Courtesy)
A typical LivePerson-powered live help chat popup box on a web site (Photo credit: Courtesy)

In a rare move for an American company, New York-based LivePerson dual-listed itself on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange in 2011 after having been traded on NASDAQ since 2000.

The TASE listing is more than the result of LivePerson’s acquisition of several Israeli companies, according to company CEO Robert LoCascio. “About half of our employees are located in Israel, and all of our research and development is being done in Israel,” LoCascio said. “We now have 400 people working at our Israel R&D center.”

LoCascio, who was in Israel recently for a business conference, explained that his company provides help services for online businesses in the form of help chat services, analytics, and other forms of customer engagement. The large majority of pop-up “help chat” boxes on web sites are powered through LivePerson’s technology.

“We have about 8,500 customers, the vast majority of which — about 7,000 — are small businesses with one to ten employees, but we also have very large customers, including 400 of the largest websites,” LoCascio told The Times of Israel. “In recent years we have developed a number of technologies to enhance sales for these companies, and have been very successful at doing so.”

Total revenue in 2012, the company reported, was $157.4 million, an 18% increase over 2011.

LivePerson cemented its roots in Israel when it acquired Israeli company HumanClick in 2000. HumanClick, which had 100,000 customers when it was absorbed into its new parent company, developed a platform for interacting with customers via chat, a technology LivePerson has enhanced to help businesses retain customers, said LoCascio.

LivePerson CEO  Robert LoCascio (Photo credit: Courtesy)
LivePerson CEO Robert LoCascio (Photo credit: Courtesy)

“With all the competition out there, it’s all about successful engagement for websites today,” said LoCascio. “Getting people to a site is only half the battle — keeping them there is the other half.”

Web users are know to quickly give up on confusing and slow-loading sites. But for sites that offer live help to surfers, brand loyalty jumps by nearly 70%, and the likelihood of closing a sale rises as well.

“On-line customers expect assistance just as they would get in a brick and mortar store,” said LoCascio. “If we can drive engagement, we can increase sales.”

In the case of LivePerson, he said, engagement results in as much as a 25% increase in sales.

Besides live chat, LivePerson has numerous tools that gauge and measure the effectiveness of anything having to do with customer interaction — scripts for live chat personnel, analysis of offers and incentives for customers, analysis of what customers are responding to, and fine-tuning web presence elements and engagement methods to attract more customers and keep them on the site longer, increasing the possibility that they will buy something.

“So many businesses concentrate on attracting hits by fine-tuning their Google presence, buying adwords in order to present themselves more effectively,” LoCascio said. “But with adwords so expensive today, businesses are paying a premium just to get web users to their sites — with no guarantee that they will do anything beyond clicking through. That’s where we come in.”

Besides HumanClick, LivePerson has acquired Israeli companies Kasamba (2007) and NuConomy (2010), the former working in the live online help space, and the latter in the web analytics space. Using those companies’ technology, as well as its core development group, LivePerson has come out with various new products and services — like live online counselors and tutors for college students — that have helped LivePerson maintain its top status in the live chat field, said LoCascio.

“LivePerson has had a strong connection to the Israeli technology community since we acquired hosted software provider HumanClick, Ltd. In 2000. We see Israeli technology as key to our continued success.”

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