3 Ways to Get the Most Out of Chat Support

live-chat-fbThis post was originally published on the FCR blog on August 4, 2016. Click here to read the original.

I recently attended a webinar hosted by CRMXchange titled The Four Fundamentals of Chat: Don’t just turn it on, extract the maximum value out of this channel. In it, Reagan Miller of [24]7 Customer, Inc shared terrific advice and best practices around chat support that’s useful to both those companies offering chat support and those considering rolling it out. Here are a few insights I found particularly useful.

The 4 Fundamentals

Miller boils any chat offering into four fundamental things to consider. Here they are:

  • Platform – When selecting a platform you might want to consider its ability to integrate with your other support channels and CRM. This is useful should you ever want to move the conversation to an email or phone call. Also the ability to send rich media, incorporate artificial intelligence, and even gamification are important. He even showed us cards which are visuals that can be displayed alongside the chat window and called it “the new co-browse”
  • Agents – Chat support requires a different set of skills than a support channel like phones. When building a team of agents who can handle chat, excellent written communication is a must. Furthermore, this presents new challenges around workforce optimization and metrics.
  • Prediction – It’s easy to assume that all you need to do to implement chat support is to put a chat widget on your website. The best value in chat is found when you place it strategically in your customer journey. We’ll talk about that more in a bit.
  • Design – When setting up chat support you’re designing an experience— especially if you’re inviting customers to chat. One great way to do this is to create a couple designs and A/B test them.

Strategically inviting customers to chat

Chat support is a great way to enhance your customer experience— not just another place for customers to gripe when the experience breaks down. Miller pointed out that chat should be much less expensive than voice if done right. The key to this is to ensure that your agents are consistently chatting with more than one customer at a time and that they aren’t spending a bunch of time chatting with folks who aren’t customers and have no hope of becoming customers.

A great way to accomplish this is to proactively invite visitors to chat at times in the customer journey where it makes sense and can speak directly to the issue the customer is experiencing. For example, observe when customers are in the billing section of their account and invite them to chat by asking them if they have any questions about their bill. Imagine if you asked them BEFORE they got frustrated and had to navigate away from the page they were on to find your phone number?

Automated messages

This last piece of advice is particularly relevant to anyone who has a rule in chat support not to leave the customer waiting more than two minutes for a response. That time goes awfully fast and isn’t always enough to get an answer to their question. Look for a chat provider where you can program automated messages to help your agents have the time they need while not making the customer feel abandoned. Just remember that if you do program in automated messages, make sure they don’t sound like canned messages!

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Jeremy Watkin is the Director of Customer Experience at FCR, the premiere provider of outsourced call center and business process solutions. He has more than 17 years of experience as a customer service and experience professional. He is co-founder of the Customer Service Life blog and a regular contributor. Jeremy has been recognized many times for his thought leadership. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome customer service and experience insights.

One comment

  • Thanks for this post, Jeremy. I’ve been using the wisdom you shared here while we release chat support at my company. 🙂

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