Customer relationship management (CRM) involves many technologies, incorporating both solutions that help customer service personnel deal more effectively with the customer and solutions that enable the customer to help him or herself. The number of technologies, products and offerings in CRM is staggering. Nowhere are CRM technologies emerging more "out in front" or "on the edge" than in automated customer self-service.

Internet sites have utilized many kinds of customer self-service techniques to reduce the human customer service agent assisted interactions. Organizations are constantly seeking ways to improve the customer's experience and cut costs. It is a fact that self-service costs less than e-mail, and e-mail costs less than a telephone call. What next-generation technology can delight customers and reduce the expenses associated with Web customer service? It's a technology that builds on the utility of search engines and natural language search (NLS) to create a conversational dialog with a virtual agent.

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