The Boring Benefits of Live Chat: Ignore These at Your Peril
Live chat is, well, boring. A decade ago, it was exciting; a new way to engage with customers. A way that delivered an excellent experience and was super-efficient. A way that offered experiences you couldn’t have any other way – co-browsing, file transfer, and integrated remote control. A way that provided reams of textual data that could be mined to discover ways to delight customers and convert them to lifelong advocates.
Flash forward to today’s reality. The number of firms who’ve actually taken the time to mine their chat data could fit into an old-fashioned phone booth. But don’t be fooled – this doesn’t mean that chat is simple. No, no the complexities of chat are deep and vast. It’s under the covers where, especially if you’re new to chat, many firms fail to look. Here are three chat features which are completely not exciting but could spell disaster if overlooked.
Ugh – “routing;” it couldn’t sound more boring if it tried. You can’t even demonstrate it very well, if at all. First off – what is it? Very simply it’s placing a work item in front of the most appropriate agent. Sounds simple, right? But consider that large deployments have an awful lot of scenarios that introduce great variability into who, at a particular time, is the most “appropriate” agent. Here are some actual scenarios from real customers.
- Chats about technical support need to be routed to a particular group of agents – unless it’s after hours – then they have to go to a rollover department.
- Chats about sales they need to be distributed in a round-robin fashion. Chats about email support need to be distributed in such a way that agents get “filled up” to their maximum before distributing to another available agent.
- Agents can take up to three simultaneous chats. Except new agents who are on-boarding – they can take only one. And super-agents – those who are very experienced – they can take four.
- Chats about order tracking should be taken down a self-service path while chats about placing a new order need to be immediately routed to a live agent.
- Agents can handle only one “billing” chat at a time because the billing system only allows one customer look-up session. Agents can handle two or three chats simultaneously from other departments. Unless they already have a billing chat – then they can only handle another one chat from any other department. Whew, that’s complicated.
Most businesses don’t think about being successful with live chat and what that can mean as a chat operation scales. As you add more capacity and specialization to your digital engagement strategy, the question of delivering work to the right place becomes increasingly complex. Almost no business who is just starting out with live chat thinks far enough ahead to the disastrous scenario that can unfold when your engagement solution can’t put the right work in front of the right person.
And you thought routing sounded boring; What can be duller than reporting? Most people deal with reporting as a complete afterthought. Some don’t even want to see it demonstrated – they simply ask (or assume) that some kind of reporting engine exists. Even worse, when they do ask about it, they almost always ask the wrong questions. They ask, “what do you report on?” instead of what they should be asking, which is, “What are the key metrics you need to run an efficient chat operation? And how can I get those metrics out of your reporting?”
Reports may, indeed, be about as exciting as a gas station ham sandwich, but without them you’ll never be able to truly optimize your chat operation. As a bit of a primer, here are some KPIs which you’ll need to run things effectively. They are grouped into six categories.
- How many chats are you getting? Are there spikes? Why?
- How much volume comes from desktop vs. mobile?
- How much volume comes from reactive chat vs. proactive chat?
- Are you handling your volume effectively? (How long are customers waiting in queue to chat vs. chat not being available at all?)
- How do queue depths impact satisfaction scoring?
- How long do people wait before giving up?
- Are operators answering chats quickly enough?
- Are operators taking the right amount of time for each chat?
- Are they meeting satisfaction expectations?
- What is the transactional NPS of chat?
- Are we providing a good experience to visitors?
- Does chat convert? At what rate?
- What is the AOV of a chat conversion?
- Do we have enough people on chat?
- Are there certain times of day/week/month where we need more or less?
Agent Efficiency Tools
Here’s a funny thing about live chat – the people who decide on and pay for the solution aren’t the ones who use it. Chat agents aren’t asked their opinion very often about the tools they are mandated to use. And while it may be a good idea to give agents a seat at the decision table, in lieu of that, decision makers should at least consider whether or not the tools they are choosing make agents more efficient. So, when selecting a chat solution, ask the vendors what purpose-built features were made intentionally for agents. A few things you might hear are:
- Agent-facing, searchable knowledge base
- Keyboard shortcuts
- Ability to integrate home-grown tools directly into the UI
- Out-of-the-box integrations with popular CRMs
- Ability to work on other digital items alongside chat (email, texts, for example)
- Visual and auditory alerts
- Ability to have a real-time discussion with other agents
- Easy access to customer engagement history
A benefit of chat has always been its efficiency over more traditional channels, but the flip side of this efficiency can often be the cumbersomeness of the tool agents must use. Make part of your evaluation completely focused on those who will actually sit in front of it for eight hours a day.
While chat itself may seem mundane, what is certainly not boring is a growing, busy chat operation breaking apart under the stress of its own scale simply because a decision was made in the here-and-now instead of thinking about what might happen should the channel become a raging success.
Imagine your customer’s experience when they get connected to the wrong agent who doesn’t have the right tools to quickly help the customer anyway. And on top of it, your organization is blind to what is really happening because you can’t accurately track a set of relevant KPIs. That doesn’t sound at all boring……
Did you know that Jenny Craig uses Bold360 for Live Chat? Check out the video to learn the benefits of having live chat on your website.