ICMI is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


Web Chat Integrated with CRM? Same Difference

So, what’s up with Web Chat? No matter where you look: everyone seems to agree that web chat is up and coming. You could actually arguably make the point that it’s already here.

Web chat

In a study conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of inContact, more than two thirds of consumers stated that web chat is an important channel for a company or e-commerce website to support. Dimension Data found in their 2015 Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report that out of the close to 900 contact centers that participated in the report, 33.1% already handle web chat as a contact center channel. And that number was expected to more than double over the subsequent 12 months, as companies plan to add web chat support to their contact center environment.

With web chat becoming (or already being) mainstream, the same customer expectations now apply to this channel as to voice, email or any other. Many of those expectations simply require integration of chat with an existing CRM system. In some cases, integration makes fulfilling the customer expectations a whole lot simpler. Let’s look a handful of scenarios, and explore where a CRM integration for chat interactions is the same as for other channels – and how to address the differences.

First of all, customers expect personalized interactions with chat, just like they do for any other channel. Customers don’t want to spend the first minutes of the interaction being prompted for their name, customer number, order status or ticket ID. The agent is supposed to know who they are and what they need. Your CRM system has all that information. However, in order for your agent to get access to it, your contact center system needs to know who is contacting you. With other channels, you can often tap into an ANI or email address for identification purposes. Not so with chat.

So what to do? One option is to ask the customer to enter an identifier when they request a chat interaction on your website, and to pass this information on to your integrated contact center / CRM environment. This enables the system to provide the agent with the customer data from the CRM system as the chat interaction is routed. If a chat interaction is started from a website area that requires a logon, you can streamline the process by using the website logon information for identification for the chat interaction as well.

Let’s stay with this idea of using CRM data to personalize and improve chat interaction handling. But now let’s look into how you can use information from your CRM system, in conjunction with chat-specific data, to ensure the customer contacting you via chat reaches the best qualified agent. Consider the following scenario: assume a customer has overrun their smart phone data roaming allowance for three months in a row. The customer, dismayed by the overage charges, goes to your website to figure out whether there’s another contract that better suits their needs; but they are not quite sure what the best option is. They start a chat interaction. Connect the dots:

  • Roaming data overage on the customer’s account for three consecutive months (from your CRM)
  • Customer initiating a chat from your “International Roaming Plans” page (from your website)

In this situation, there’s a very high likelihood that the customer would like to speak with an agent that is an expert in international roaming plans to make adjustments to their contract. Usingthe information provided by the origin of the chat interaction, in conjunction with CRM data, you can “fine tune” your chat interaction routing.

Access to customer data (which will usually reside in your CRM system) will allow your agents to cross-sell and upsell customers when they contact you via chat, just like any other channel. For chat, proactive outreach presents an offer to start a chat interaction based on customer behavior on your website. In this scenario, a customer remains on your “International Roaming Plans Overview” web page for longer than a couple of minutes; so you actively offer a chat session to clarify any open questions. If your website requires logon information, you could potentially even personalize the interaction based on customer data in your CRM system.

One last point to consider: your CRM system may well be the best location to track customer interactions across channels. Integrating your contact center solution with your CRM for all supported channels   ̶  including chat, of course  ̶  will allow you to get a 360-degree view of your customer and all interactions they’ve had with you. This is an important step on the way to a true omni-channel contact center! For chat specifically, make sure you have access to all data including chat transcripts – the more detail you have available, the better will your agents know your customer the next time they contact you!