(The Hosting News) – On Friday, CDG Commerce became perhaps the first company worldwide to conduct a full eight hours of Web live chatting while intermittently operating watercraft. As part of a fleet of 63 canoes, live chat agents took turns paddling, steering, admiring the autumn foliage on the banks of the Nishnabotna River, and assisting customers with their customer service and technical support questions.
“We’d been planning this team building trip for months,” explains Marius Dicpetris, special events coordinator for CDG Commerce. “It just seemed a shame not to allow all of our hard-working live chat representatives to join in the fun. So we brought them along. And we let them know, look, your safety comes first, so if your boat capsizes, DO NOT attempt to swim and type responses simultaneously.”
“It was a little difficult,” admits Amanda Blair, live chat manager for the company. “Partially because we had to use our cell phones and it was difficult sometimes to scroll up and down, help customers promptly, and avoid collisions with other vessels. As fate would have it, this was one of our busiest chat days of the year! Plus, we ran into a lot of snakes.”
A review of copy from the live chat sessions confirms Ms. Blair’s perspective. There were seven mentions of snakes, four of which caused panic onboard the canoe resulting in delays to answer customer questions. The following interaction between a customer named Michelle and CDG representative Chad Knauer exhibits this difficulty.
Chad: Hi Michelle. How can I help you?
Michelle: hi chad – can you explain the fraud loss protection program please?
Chad: Yes, certainly. Actually just a second sir. There’s a snake. We’re on canoes and
Michelle: should i come back later
Chad: Sorry about the wait. We don’t usually do our live chat from canoes. We had a man overboard in the Nishnabotna, and a snake was closing in. Anyway, the fraud loss program …
According to Michelle Beitzel, spokesperson for the U.S. General Services Administration, CDG Commerce may have gone where no company has gone before. “We have nothing in our extensive database of US federal government statistics that even mentions canoes, let alone suggests any incidence of a business operating from dozens of them for an entire business day. My guess is that the Dutch have tried this if anyone, but I don’t have those figures.”
David Pohl, who is in the platinum support group for consistently scoring high marks in customer surveys, explains why the trip was meaningful to him: “My dad always used to say he was going to take me canoeing, but he never did.” A tear rolling down his face and sighing deeply, Mr. Pohl continued: “In this sense, I feel that CDG Commerce just filled that empty place in my heart left by a father who never had time to live up to the few promises he made.”
Despite the difficulties of the adventure, Marius Dicpetris is hopeful that the canoeing trip will become an annual event. “This was about team building, and nothing says team building like helping out your valuable customers while battling seething, venomous Nishnabotna vipers. The sweat was a problem though, as was the huge amount of water around us. I think we lost about $8000 in cell phones, which is kind of a bummer.”
Writer Bio: Kent Roberts is an author and contributor to The Onion; his site is TGIKent.com.