By: Christy Green On: February 23, 2015 In: Contact Center Comments: 0

Live chat is one of the best ways to get instant communication with a company. In a survey of 2,000 consumers for a 2014 Customer Service Benchmark report from eDigitalResearch, 26% of the survey respondents had used live chat to communicate with a brand within the last 12 months and satisfaction rates were high. 73% said they were ‘extremely satisfied’ or ‘satisfied’ with the level of service live chat afforded them. The findings also revealed that 30% of consumers expect live chat to be an option to contact a company.

If you’re planning to deploy chat for your contact center, you’ll want to review these 6 Keys to Successful Chat Deployment that will ensure your business receives the maximum benefit.

1. Define your goals

This step is critical! If you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve, your chances of success aren’t very good. Once your goal has been clearly identified, it needs to be agreed upon and communicated to all stakeholders, from the executive staff to the agents themselves.

2. Choose your metrics

Your primary objective will determine your implementation strategy and your success metrics. The metrics that drive performance on traditional channels are different than the metrics that will drive performance on chat. Choose two or three key metrics when measuring your success. In general, what is tracked will be improved, if only because it will focus your attention and efforts around improving those metrics.

3. Set your agents up for success

Chat makes unique demands on agents, so it’s imperative to select and train agents to meet critical chat-related capabilities, such as excellent written communication skills, proper grammar, typing speed, attention to detail, patience, the ability to multitask, and professionalism when dealing with angry, frustrated or confused consumers. If using chat agents primarily for sales conversion, sales skills are obviously important as well.

Before you go live, performing an internal beta is an excellent training practice. Follow that with a limited live deployment. Taking multiple simultaneous chats will take some practice, so this approach builds agent skill levels and confidence. Additionally, these phases can also be used to flesh out the canned text messages and guides that agents will come to depend on.

4. Provide a shared knowledge base

There are two pieces to this key step.

    • First, encourage web self-service. Chat agents should be trained to push links to knowledge base answers through the chat transcript whenever possible. By providing these links, customers become more familiar with the knowledge base itself and will come to understand that most of the information they are looking for is already there. We have found that this technique encourages customers to look in the knowledge base first before requesting a chat, placing a phone call or sending an e-mail.Utilizing knowledge base links during a chat also has a couple other beneficial side effects. One, it creates a consistent customer experience because all customers with the same issue are given the exact same information. And two, it decreases the potential perception of slow agent response time as the consumer is occupied consuming the knowledge base content.
    • Secondly, the agent knowledge base, standard text and canned messages should all be shared and integrated. In addition to the fact that creating and maintaining individual information repositories is not only expensive and difficult, it also increases the risk of creating and using contradictory information.

5. Require Incidents

Another best practice is to require the creation of an incident to track each chat session. Doing so will ensure that each engagement is resolved successfully, and that information captured during the chat is included in reports and trending analytics. This information is then used to streamline business processes, identify agent training opportunities, and optimize web self-service content.

6. Measure Results

In measuring the results and success of the chat channel, you’ll need to define your tracking process and develop performance baselines. Using surveys is the single best way to gather the information you need to track the effectiveness of chat. Keeping surveys short, such as limiting them to five or fewer questions that all appear within the same window, significantly increases the likelihood that customers will complete them. Keep the questions simple, short, and easy to answer. Providing Yes/No radio buttons, simple checkboxes or numeric scales is preferable to open-ended questions that are answered with free-form text.

Adding chat to your web experience can reduce costs, increase revenue, and increase customer satisfaction. Having a well-defined and communicated objective is key to a successful deployment. That objective will determine which metrics to use to measure success and will guide decisions around staffing, availability, and desired customizations. A diligent planning process will ensure a successful deployment of a new chat channel.

If you have questions about chat for your contact center, please contact us!