Fine Tuning: Implementing Chat as a channel

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19 comments

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    David Ferguson

    Will the sessions be available online afterwards?  I would love to attend but will not be able to.

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    Caitlin Wood

    Hi David!

    No worries at all - the content from tomorrow's session and all of the comments on the post will be here for you to check out whenever you're ready. 

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    Audrey Griffith

    Hi, Everyone! I'm online and eager to hear your questions or comments you may have about Part 1. Looking forward to a rich, collaborative conversation!

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    Audrey Griffith

    Part 2 is now posted!  I'm standing by for any comments or questions.

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    Bridget

    Thanks for these suggestions. 

    Any more recommendations on how to steer customers towards chat? We have the chat pop up widget on all pages of our website.

    Customers email us, but we'd love to have more of them using the chat feature since we can solve issues quickly via this channel. 

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    Audrey Griffith

    Hey Bridget-

    Educating your customers to look for and use chat can be a process, but I found that because customers prefer it, you usually don't have to remind them repeatedly. Driving awareness and steering customers to chat could include: 

    -Mentioning chat with a link to chat in the signature/footer of tickets

    -Repositioning/reformatting the chat offering so that it stands out amongst channel offerings or is the only option offered on certain pages

    -Cross-promoting chat on social media channels and the company blog 

    -Promoting chat and explaining the features and benefits and how-to's in your Help Center

    Like any other product there is a bit of marketing involved:-) I hope these help!

     

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    Aja Varney

    Audrey, I can definitely see your point about chat taking away from other live channels (phone support). However, do you have any sort of metrics or guidelines for the impact on emails? 
    We're new to chat and I'm making the assumption that if we proactively answer the question in a chat, that person is unlikely to email in..... but any guidelines on how to estimate that better?

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    Audrey Griffith

    Hi Aja-

    I haven't come across many hard metrics around interaction shifts from email to chat. So much depends on your company's demographic, FAQ presence on the site and link placement. In my personal experience, when we promoted chat as a channel, we saw about 30% decline in email. 

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    Audrey Griffith

    Last, but not certainly not least, Part 3 has been posted. If you've been keeping tabs on this post, I'd love to hear about your experiences with chat! Looking forward to hearing from you!

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    Diane Albert

    Hi Audrey - I love that you specifically call out in Staffing Basics that handling two live channels is difficult.  We still have the basic level chat on our Zendesk because chat hasn't yet been accepted as a channel. There are two of us running the official support desk (everyone else is a Light Agent).

    Can you elaborate a little bit on the kinds of challenges you found when you first tried more than one live channel?  Our sales/service group has a phone queue which support is not part of.  Support does not have a queue (hence we love Zendesk).  We have no problems talking with a customer on the phone, but since we aren't in the call queue, I find that reps don't grasp the concept when trying to get an answer or transfer a call that you already have 2 "calls".  Technically you aren't ignoring their phone call, but YES YOU ARE.  Coming to stand at my desk does not help.  :)

    Their idea of "chat" is what we do internally on Jabber.

    Did you start with only a certain percentage of your staff on deck?

    Did you offer chat at only certain times of the day?

     

    Love the Fine Tuning!  It's been very helpful.  diane

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    Audrey Griffith

    Hi Diane-

    Thanks for reaching out! I can completely relate to the difficulty you describe around reps' perceptions and behaviors.

    To answer your questions, we did start with about 20% of our reps on chat and encouraged them to answer only tickets during their down time until we were able to define our true need. We rolled out chat during what we thought were peak times and not the entirety of our support shifts. We also strongly encouraged them to not dive into other live channels (despite some of the higher performer's good intentions), which helped define the roles better. There was definitely a shift in the department to "just because they aren't on the phone, doesn't mean they are not serving our customers" that took a little time. 

    From a team optics perspective, we needed adherence to channels despite volumes so that it didn't feel like a free for all and everyone's time with their customers was respected. While at first it seemed like our chat reps weren't "pitching in", we messaged to the group why were doing this and the intended outcomes. We also gave the team a little leeway on individual productivity while we were adjusting to the shift. When we started reporting higher CSat on chat as a channel and seeing fewer escalations, we were able to get everyone bought in.

    Best of luck with chat adoption! I hope this helps:-) 

      

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    Carissa Fish

    Hi Audrey,

    You mentioned that customers should be seamlessly transferred over to the phone when needed (to provide credit card info, or for a more in-depth question.) Do you have any best practices or tips on how to do this? Should the customer speak on the phone with the same person they were chatting with to maintain continuity? Would the agents on phones have access to the chat history? We have not implemented chat yet on my team but are looking into it. 

    Thanks!

    -Carissa

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    Audrey Griffith

    Hi Carissa-

    Thanks for reaching out! Usually, customers aren't super concerned about talking to the same person, but they are focused on ease and efficiency. So if a customer is transferred from chat to phone, you will want to make sure that the essential details of the interaction (name, account or order number and basic reason for the interaction, for example) are also transferred to the next agent. No one wants to have to repeat information so make sure your integration accounts for that. By doing so, you'll protect your CSat score and reduce handle times. 

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    Jacob J Christensen

    This is a great read, thanks!

     

    Any advice on evaluating what impact, adding chat as a channel will have on the number of agents required?

    We operate 2 brands each in 4 different languages, so 8 sites in total with visitors in the thousands - I expect to gain some insight by having a trial run on one site. But still, I have no idea what effect it is likely to have on our staffing requirements - any hints will be greatly appreciated. :-D

    Thanks!

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    Caitlin Wood

    Hi Jacob!

    I would start with estimating your potential volume, as Audrey describes (15% of your site visitors will engage in chat).

    I would then consider the following:

    • Chat type (proactive vs. reactive) is key when it comes to volume. If possible, try to A/B test reactive and proactive chat to see which provides better results.

    • Start by limiting chat availability to only support specific products, or only after a customer attempts to self-serve (for example). This way you're able to have more control over potential volumes and begin to benchmark.

    • It's also good to get to know how your live chat request volume varies by day and hour. Your stats might look quite different, but generally, we know that:
      • Peak live chat volumes occur between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. local time
      • Request volume increases rapidly beginning at 8:00 a.m., and peaks from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

    • As Audrey mentioned, plan for your agents to be assigned to a single live channel, since handling two live channels doesn't provide an optimal experience for the customer or the agent. This is super important for you to consider (and why I think doing some testing with controlled volumes is big for you), since your main focus is around the impact on your agents of adding another live channel.

    • If you're using Zopim, agent reports and real-time reporting allow you to monitor live chat times and keep tabs on your support operations. You can see agent logins, response times, and live chat satisfaction scores in the Zopim dashboards. Breaking down this data by hour of day and day of week will allow you to determine peak times and allocate support resources in line with that.

    Have you started to think about what your trial or A/B tests will look like? I'd love to hear more.

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    Jacob J Christensen

    Hi Caitlin,

    Thanks a lot for getting back about this, I've been in meetings all day, but can't wait to get into your feedback tomorrow!

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    Jacob J Christensen

    Hi Caitlin,

    Excellent points! And I'm glad they are along the same lines as my current thoughts. 

    My plan is to start out minimalistically and only reactively, evaluate and experiment with pro-active chats and different pages.

    I have no tool for doing formal A/B tests, does the Zopim analytics include ways to do this?

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    Caitlin Wood

    Great way to start, Jacob.

    Analytics in Zopim will allow you to monitor chat volumes, as you test out availability on different pages, but there isn't a built in A/B test capability. I might suggest creating a simple spreadsheet to track your experiment - You can track things like time period (Feb 1 - Feb 29, for example), chat type (proactive/reactive), placement (which pages), chat volume, CSAT, etc. and then continue to tweak your placement and see how volume changes over time. 

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    Jacob J Christensen (Edited )

    Awesome! Will definitely do that!

    Thanks again!

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