Talk may be cheap but it's popular online, according to the Port of Oakland. The Port said today that its web-based customer service feature LiveChat this month has passed 10,000 visitors since launching in December 2015.
The Port said its online representatives are responding to about 200 online queries each month. It's believed that Oakland may have the only online chat service among U.S. ports.
"We started LiveChat to make doing business with us easier," said Port of Oakland Social Responsibility Director Amy Tharpe. "But it has blossomed into a platform to discuss just about anything that's on the mind of our constituents."
When visitors log onto the Port of Oakland web site, they're prompted to query Port staff. Port representatives respond in real time to questions Monday through Friday from 8: 30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The questions run the gamut. For instance:
--Question: Can I pick up my cargo container with a pick-up truck? Answer: No. It takes something a little bit bigger - like a semi...and it has to be registered with the Port of Oakland
--Question: Can I get tickets for your free harbor tours? Answer: Sure. Just click on our home page harbor tour banner.
--Question: Can I get free parking at Oakland International Airport? Answer: Yep. Register on the airport web site to qualify for a free parking day.
--Question: Are you a robot? Answer: No. Everyone at LiveChat is a real person
The most commonly asked questions for Port staff concern employment opportunities and how to import containerized cargo from overseas. Questions submitted overnight are logged and answered the next business day.