CRM is not just about an application, rather a set of business processes. One of the ways to reach out to customers is over Instant Messaging. I have seen a number of commerce sites that have drastically improved conversion rates by including chat with them. Up until now, it generally took the installation of a separate chat application. There is a new free alternative. :)

The Windows Live Messenger IM Control lets people on the Web reach you in Messenger by showing your Messenger status on your web site, blog, or social networking profile.  The Windows Live Messenger IM Control runs in the browser and lets site visitors message you without installing Messenger first.  The IM Control is supported in IE6, IE7, and Firefox 2.0 on Windows and Firefox 2.0 on Mac OS.  The IM Control is supported in 32 languages.

To Use:

  1. Go to http://settings.messenger.live.com/applications/websettings.aspx.  Sign in with your Windows Live ID as needed.
  2. Turn on your Web settings to show your presence and receive IM from the Web.  Note that if you turn on Web settings, anybody on the Web can see your presence and send you IM messages.
  3. Pick a way to show your presence. Copy the HTML from the page and post it on your Web site.
  4. When a visitor comes to you page, they can click on “Begin a conversation” to start sending you IM. 

Note that you cannot IM yourself from the Web (just as you can’t IM yourself in the Messenger client).  To test sending a message to yourself, send a message as “Visitor” or “Send anonymous message”.

The IM Control lets anybody on the Web IM you.  If somebody you don’t know sends you a message, you will see a warning like in Messenger.  The IM Control lets people you don’t know reach you.  If you don’t want people you don’t know to send you messages, then don’t allow messages such as this one.  If you want to always enable new users to IM you from the IM Control, then allow messages from unknown senders.

Can you think of any additional cool uses for this?