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26th July 2016

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Should you offer web chat customer service?

Web chat is a modern customer contact channel that today’s digital native consumers are generally very comfortable with. It is more flexible than the phone because it doesn’t demand consumers’ full attention, typically involves less queuing, costs nothing, and there’s no background noise.

It’s also relatively cheap to operate. According to Giga Group, web chat costs about 10x less for organisations to handle a web chat than a phone call, and it is often great for sales conversion, especially as a result of reducing shopping basket abandonment.

No surprise, therefore that web chat is one of the most popular digital channels for customer service today, used by 39 per cent of UK customer service organisations according to the 2015 ContactBabel “UK Decision-Makers Guide”.

Here are a few tips to get started with web chat:

  1. Prioritise pages and make web buttons highly visible. Not all web chat conversations are of equal importance. For example, a chat initiated at checkout relating to a product query will probably be more valuable than one relating to a password refresh. So provide priority routing for customers arriving from key web pages – and make web chat buttons highly visible on these pages.
  2. Limit the use of proactive chat. If a customer has been hovering around a checkout or FAQ page for longer than the average browse time, it sometimes makes sense to use a ‘proactive’ chat option (i.e. to pop a web chat screen on the customer’s screen). Proactive chat has a place, for example, to resolve concerns over delivery options, but can be invasive if over used.
  3. Use intelligent routing to boost customer experience (CX). Ensure that customers’ routing experiences are as smooth and pain-free as possible. When asking for customer details up front, don’t ask for too much information – a simple name and email capture is usually enough. If possible, use WebRTC and similar technologies to capture additional information about customers’ browsing journeys and account histories and pass this through to chat agents. Where appropriate, consider passing the customer through to a specialist who deals with their particular type of account/query – or to a person that they have dealt with before.
  4. Create Guides, Templates and a Knowledge Centre. Heavily scripted responses can often result in robotic answers from agents that negatively impact on customer experiences. However, the use of Chat Templates to handle responses to common issues is recommended. So too are Agent Guides that both suggest on-brand words and phrases and provide ‘how to?’ advice and FAQs to resolve common problems. Consider incorporating guides and templates into a comprehensive knowledge centre that can be updated by agents on an on-going basis to share knowledge and positive tips.
  5. Optimise services for mobile users. With 93 per cent of UK consumers now owning a mobile phone and 66 per cent owning a smartphone according to Ofcom, tailoring services for mobile users is increasingly important. Optimise web chat user experiences for mobile users by keeping the account verification process simple, keeping text responses short and keeping file attachments small. Also, consider integrating web chat support into mobile applications for regular users.

If you are considering web chat as a service channel, get in touch with us today. We have many examples of how this has helped organisations improve the customer experience they offer – we’d love to help you too. Get in touch here.

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