In a recent blog post, Forrester principal analyst Kate Leggett discussed that customers are embracing more communication channels as they engage brands online. Leggett revealed that consumers are contacting companies more frequently, and are looking for easy and effective communication channels to get to the answers they need. The post highlights that one of the channels that continues gaining popularity among consumers is chat – “Online chat adoption continues to rise – from 38% in 2009 to 43% in 2012 to 58% in 2014.”
Delivering great quality support across digital engagement channels is a key priority for many organizations, and chat is a great technology to help achieve this goal. Beyond support, organizations need to consider chat as a key digital engagement tool that allows them to connect with their customers across the entire digital journey — from sales to support. Moxie Chat customers report an average of 400% increase in order size when engaging customers online.
Today, we are going to look at some of the best practices organizations can implement when leveraging chat to engage with their online customers across the digital journey and devices. Industry expert and former Gartner analyst Johan Jacobs lays out these critical steps for companies to successfully use Web chat to engage with their customers:
- Commit or Skip: Web chat does not lend itself well to pilot projects. If a company plans on deploying chat technology they need to commit to the initiative or not do it at all. Pilot projects might not be seen as strategic, and so a low-cost web chat product is used that will not deliver the depth of features required to meet customers’ expectations. Unfortunately, in many instances pilot implementations become permanent, leaving an inadequate Web chat solution in place.
- Run Multiple Sessions from Day One: companies should prepare their chat agents to manage at least two concurrent Web chat sessions from the beginning of the operation. By increasing the number of simultaneous interactions, a chat agent can become more effective than a phone agent, and good quality interactions with customers can be delivered if best practices are followed.
- Don’t Make Call Centers Responsible for Web Chat: online chat agents need to type a minimum of 65 words per minute to achieve the levels of productivity that chat sessions require. And because Web chat is a written communication channel, agents must have good business writing skills. In many instances, call center professionals might not have been trained in these skills. Create skill groups where chat agents are separated from agents who talk on the phone, and give online chat agents an environment that fits the task.
- Tightly Couple Knowledge Management with Web Chat: another critical element for successfully implementing Web chat is to tightly integrate it with robust and sophisticated knowledge management. All knowledge needed to answer customer inquiries must be available to online agents— not in multiple separate knowledgebases, but in one single, unified knowledge repository in order to streamline the process of finding answers. This will help chat agents communicate effectively with customers to provide them the information they need.
You can read more details about successful implementation of Web chat, including cost and average handle time, agent training and capacity, and other best practices in the “Dos and Don’ts of Web Chat eBook.”