Web chat for contact centers is on the rise. Three-quarters of the participants in our 2010 Multi-Channel Customer Contact Survey said they either supported web chat today or planned to do so within the next 2 years. I’m not surprised. Web chat boosts the success rate of Web-based self-service by helping customers solve problems or complete purchases without leaving the web site. It also encourages repeat users.
If you’re planning on adding web chat to your contact center, here are 7 things to factor into your plans:
- Decide whether chat will be made available upon request or suggested proactively. If the latter, you’ll need technology to “observe” visitor behavior along with rules to determine when/if contact should be initiated.
- Establish a workforce planning discipline that’s tailored to chat. As with other media, you’ll need to forecast and track activity, handling times, and service levels. But remember: agents can handle multiple concurrent sessions. Monitor activity closely – especially during the initial deployment – to determine the optimal number of sessions given your application(s), customer base, and support infrastructure.
- Apply your voice call routing and handling expertise to text chat. Queue chat requests into the appropriate group or skill and provide treatment while in queue – e.g., expected wait time, helpful information, advertising.
- Capture information about customers and their needs using logins, brief forms, or simple requests for their names. Use this data in concert with the source URL to “pop a screen” at the agent desktop. Consider integration with your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to enhance the customer interaction.
- Provide pre-built “greetings” as well as responses to common customer inquiries. Use customer-supplied information to access the relevant section of your Knowledge Management (KM) system. You’ll gain agent efficiencies (cost savings!) while delivering faster service for your web visitors.
- Make sure your web developers are attuned to your hours of operation. You don’t want to offer chat if no one is there to “talk.” Encourage visitors to send email after hours or use another form of contact during normal business hours.
- Monitor, measure, and drive performance. Use scorecards and analytics to assess performance on web chat handling tied to quality monitoring, voice of the customer, sales, and other outcomes.