Leveraging Live Chat for Support: 5 Key Questions Answered

With the increasing adoption of live chat as a support channel, more and more companies are wondering if it's a good fit for them and how they can deliver an exceptional customer experience with chat. BoldChat recently partnered with TSIA on a webinar to answer 5 key questions about why live chat is an important communication channel and how companies can best utilize it for customer support.

1. Does chat work for technical support?

The short answer is a resounding yes. The longer answer is yes, but be sure to follow these best practices to be sure your customers are getting the best possible support from chat:

  • Proactively identify complex issues that may not be best resolved via chat.
  • Train chat agents on escalation procedures to transition to another agent or channel if necessary.
  • Integrate KM and CRM systems to streamline chat incidents.
  • Implement a mobile engagement strategy to adequately support mobile customers.

2. How do I staff my live chat channel? Blended or dedicated agents?

Dedicated chat agents are generally best. Research has shown that dedicated agents have much higher productivity than blended agents even after two years. However, blended agents focused only on asynchronous text-based channels like chat and email have increased efficiency because they are able to fill chat down time (e.g. waiting for a chat to come in, waiting for a response, etc.) with emails.

It's also important to look at your anticipated chat volume and the requirements for staffing your chat channel – the skill set of a successful chat agent is different than that of a phone agent.

3. How does training for chat differ from phone?

Because the required skill sets between chat agents and phone agents, there are considerable differences between training these individuals:

  • Text-centric communications demand multi-tasking, concise responses, and fast and accurate typing skills.
  • Younger workers do well with chat since they grew up in the IM generation, but be sure to train them to avoid inappropriate shortcuts and abbreviations.
  • Chat agents need to be able to express humanity through the written word – customers like to know they are chatting with a real person.

4. Is outsourcing or offshoring my chat channel a good option?

61% of TSIA's members outsource or offshore their chat channel, and many of their chat conversations have higher customer satisfaction scores than phone calls. However, it really depends on a wide variety of factors, and there's no right answer. Any company can insource, outsource or offshore – there are no rules, but there are decisions about processes, people and technology, and every decision has trade-offs. What we've found is that the right answer is usually driven by the culture of your company. If your company frequently outsources, chat is likely a good channel to outsource because you have experience managing those relationships, you're familiar negotiating those contracts, etc. Bottom line: there's no right or wrong answer.

5. How many chat sessions should an agent manage?

On average, the appropriate number of concurrent chat sessions is 3, but it varies depending on the business, the types of questions you're fielding, etc. For high volume, less complex issues, 4-5 concurrent sessions is more common. For highly complex sessions, fewer is better. Once agents are more experienced, they are generally able to add incremental sessions.

It's also important to take a look at how you decide to distribute chats to agents to maximize efficiency. Distribution options include:

  • Least-busy: the operator who has been the least busy the longest gets the next incoming chat
    • Good for customer service implementations where there is sufficient volume
  • Fill-up: operators keep getting chats until their maximum concurrency is full
    • Good for customer service implementations where volume is sporadic
  • Round robin: just like dealing cards – chats get distributed in order until an agent's queue is at capacity
    • Good for sales environments because everyone gets generally equal volume, and reps see it as "the most fair"

For additional information on these questions, contact us today!

This blog was written by Jenn Betz, Senior Product Marketing Manager for BoldChat by LogMeIn

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