Chat Contact Centre Best Practices Guide

scott-horn-cmo-247By Scott Horn, Chief Marketing Officer of [24]7… Businesses who have incorporated chat into their customer experience (CX) strategy are quickly realising the many benefits of chat to both the company and the consumer.

Contact Centre CLUB

Chat programs save organisations time and money, while customers are rewarded with higher CSAT and faster resolution. But launching the chat channel is only the beginning. Businesses must continue to optimise their chat programs to provide the best experience to their consumers while providing the most value for the enterprise.

Typical chat contact centres have three types of customer queues: tech support chat, service chat, and sales chat. Though there are some similarities between each of these queues, it’s important for businesses to focus on the finer points of difference between them to achieve the best performance for each. Our team of chat experts have identified the top three best practices for each type of queue. Keep reading to learn these best practices.

Tech Support Chat Program

In its early days, chat was not an ideal method for assisting customers with tech support. Unreliable internet connections or a misstep in troubleshooting could prematurely disconnect a user at any time. Fortunately, technology has evolved to make chat more resilient to these issues. Mature chat programs today are able to reconnect users to the same agent if the conversation drops, and return them to the last point of troubleshooting.

These new capabilities make chat a prime channel for tech support.

Best Practices:

1) Use multimedia to simplify troubleshooting: Multimedia can be used in chat to explain things more clearly to the customer. For example, instead of explaining which wire to connect to which port behind the TV, you can share a picture of the TV’s back with the appropriate port circled. Real-time rich media aids make it easier to relay information to customers. Consumers can even send pictures to your chat agents to provide them with more information than they could relay on a voice channel.

2) Recruit and train agents for excellence: A voice agent isn’t the same as a chat agent. The skills sets are, in fact, quite different.

Probing skills: In some cases, a great deal of the tech support interaction is spent trying to identify the problem. Sometimes a customer may not even have the necessary technical vocabulary to describe the problem in detail, and the written medium can also be an inhibiting factor for both the agent and the customer. Customers may be frustrated or angry which is harder to identify in a chat interaction than a voice interaction. Find agents who have the ability to be in tune with what the customer is feeling by “listening with their eyes” and discerning what customers are really saying, or in this case, typing.

Technical aptitude: This is an obvious trait for tech support but often overlooked or assumed when interviewing digital chat agents. Most of the millennial generation have grown up as digital natives with an immeasurable understanding of how chat works. Chat agents, unlike voice agents, need to have ability to navigate their way around chat technology. They’ll need a strong understanding of common abbreviations, emojis, or any other features that customers use to communicate with the chat centre, as well as the ability to multi-task as they’ll often be managing several chat conversations at the same time. Digital chat agents need to have the skill sets necessary for digital interactions.

3)Deploy data analytics: Data enables companies to understand exactly what is happening in chat conversations, at scale. Data analytics enable your company to discern information about the customer’s intent based on past conversation data. This allows companies to accelerate problem identification by using data to predict the intent of the customer query. It can also accelerate resolution by serving up recommendations that have proven successful for similar questions in the past.

Service Chat Program

An important aspect of service chat is that the customers contacting your organization have hit a roadblock of some sort with your product or service. Shipment being delayed, the wrong product being delivered, an inability to access funds, or a stolen credit card are all examples of common service related inquiries customers will have. Best practices for service chat focus on helping the customer solve their issue with minimum effort and time.

Best Practices:

1) Employ agents with superior service skills: Engaging in a service related interaction via text-based communications presents a particularly unique set of challenges. Digital chat agents must have several truly unique characteristics:

Multi-tasker: Unlike a voice agent, to resolve a customer’s issue, a chat agent has to work with multiple systems and tools at the same time, and most often more than one customer at a time.

Media savvy: Chat agents need to understand the world of multimedia and how to converse in this dynamic medium. Consider whether your agents know how to discern intent through what your customers type and how to express themselves effectively in the written medium.

Domain expertise: Your chat agents need to know your business inside and out. They need to understand your customer’s experience, from their perspective, with your products and services. They should know your customer journeys inside and out as well.

2)Use prediction and design to service the right customers effectively with the least cost: Advanced prediction capabilities can identify and engage only those customers who are likely to need assistance. There is a bias to not engage those who will self-serve to resolution. Don’t waste agent time on customers that are able (and would prefer) to self-serve.

Companies should also use design of experiments to optimize and increase engagement and resolution rates. This creates a truly elegant experience that is sure to push your NPS ratings to new heights.

Design of experiments (DOE) is a systematic method for finding cause-and-effect relationships within a process. Unlike simpler methods of experimentation (such as trial-and-error), DOE uses numerous variables to help companies make more informed decisions about how they can improve their business processes.

3)Measure First Contact Resolution (FCR) across multiple channels: If you are not already doing this, it’s critical to measure FCR across multiple channels. What good is it to chat with someone only for them to call your toll free number and hit your customer service spend again? When measured properly, you can identify issues that cause repeat contacts and minimize in-channel and cross-channel repeat contacts which will have a multiplied impact on NPS and CSAT ratings.

Sales Chat Program

For sales-related customer conversations, the objective is to provide the best experience for the customer while optimizing incremental online revenues. Understanding to whom and when to present sales offers begins with making sure you target the right customers and ends with well-trained agents capable of persuading customers to transact.

Best Practices:

1)Recruit agents who have an aptitude for sales:

Communication skills: The ability to persuade in writing is a unique skill-set. It requires an understanding of how to describe features and benefits in appealing ways and an intuitive sense of what the customer needs and wants.

Perseverance: A sales agent shouldn’t let rejection stop him cold. The key to being a successful sales agent is to always be persistent, even in the face of overwhelmingly negative responses and to be ready to provide new information to the customer that will change her perspective on the value of what is being offered.

2)Use multi-media interactions to increase conversion: Augment your sales conversations with pictures and rich descriptions of your products. You can provide these in the form of side-by-side comparisons to help the customer make an informed decision. Use other interactive capabilities to bring the written conversation to life including geo-location of the nearest physical store, a form or contract with a digital signature feature, or even allow your customers to send you pictures of products.

3) Use analytics to select and target the right visitors: As mentioned previously, it’s important to ensure that your agents are chatting with the right people. And, in sales chat, you need to make sure that you are not just chatting with visitors with a propensity to transact. You must also try to not target chat interactions with customers that would otherwise have transacted without chatting. To accomplish this, your chat program needs sophisticated funnel management and prediction (derived from analytics intelligence) to select the right visitors to invite to chat.

Maximizing the Potential of Your Chat Centre

These actions will help your chat program produce optimized results. The perfect blend of technology, prediction, design, and agents can be a difficult balance to achieve. It’s important to invest in an aggressive yet measured way to ensure that all of these chat centre components are contributing to your success.

About Scott Horn, Chief Marketing Officer, [24]7

Scott joined [24]7 in 2015 as the Chief Marketing Officer and brings over 20 years of global marketing experience with leading technology companies. Prior to joining [24]7, he was the VP, Global Marketing for Seagate Technology, a global storage technology leader, where he drove revenue with a redesigned product line strategy, focused digital and demand marketing efforts on enhancing customer acquisition and loyalty and spearheaded the company’s rebrand from a component manufacturer to a technology solution provider.

Previously, he spent 17 years in Seattle at Microsoft in marketing and product development roles across various lines of business, including Windows Phone, Windows Embedded and Developer Tools. Scott was a software developer for several years and holds both a BS in Information and Computer Science from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business.

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