Fourteen Web Chat Tips for 2014

By Richard McCrossan

This year will be the year that we see Web chat really starting to take hold in the contact center – and not just for the younger generation. These fourteen tips will help call centers implement a successful Web chat policy.

1. Always Promote Web Chat: When promoting Web chat, be careful not to deflect the customer. It is important to understand that some queries are more complex and, therefore, less suitable for Web chat, so make sure the phone is still available as a communication channel.

2. Personalize Chat: No one likes talking to a robot. A personalized customer experience encourages engagement and trust among your customer base, encouraging customers to use Web chat again.

3. Be Professional: While the nature of Web chat means that a less formal language style can be used, it is important that agents “chat” in a professional manner. Bad grammar and spelling reflects badly on an organization.

4. Call the Customer Directly if You Can’t Solve the Query: Advisers can’t always deliver first contact resolution via Web chat, so it must be easy to seamlessly move the conversation from Web chat to a phone call.

5. Have Visible Knowledge Pages: Providing prominent knowledge pages and frequently asked questions (FAQs) on your home page will encourage customers to use self-service and can reduce the volume of phone calls.

6. Use Timed Popups: Avoid prompting customers for Web chat as soon as they enter the page; it causes interruption and frustration. Targeted popups that analyze customer behavior and popup at the precise moment of need are more effective.

7. Have Someone There to Answer: Waiting on hold on the telephone is an annoyance to customers, so don’t make them wait for chat, too. If all of agents are busy, add a capability to grey out the “chat now” button, instead of inviting customers into a long and frustrating queue.

8. Respond Immediately: Web chat queries tend to be less complex, so these queries can be dealt with more quickly and easily than email.

9. Use Short Paragraphs: Unlike a phone call, where people stay on the line, people using Web chat have a habit of drifting off mid-chat. Use short snappy responses to keep the customer’s attention.

10. Control Maximum Chat Sessions per Agent: You should have a maximum of three simultaneous chat sessions per agent. Agents attempting any more than three won’t be able to deliver a great customer experience.

11. Make It Simple and Easy to Use: If you make Web chat too complicated for the customer, there is no point in having it. Complex verifications and instructions will only frustrate the customer further.

12. Don’t Make Customers Repeatedly Confirm Information: If the customer has already logged into your Website, the customer is already authenticated; don’t make them repeat information they’ve already given.

13. Be Aware of Generational Differences: Web chat is typically more popular with the younger generation, so be aware of generational differences. Some customers may not be as used to chat as others; don’t deflect customers to chat who don’t want to use it.

14. Select the Right Advisers for the Job: Not all phone-based service advisers are comfortable handling Web chat. Assess the suitability of agents to handle contacts and provide additional skills training as required.

Richard McCrossan is the strategic business director for digital channels at Genesys.

[From the February/March 2014 issue of AnswerStat magazine]