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10 Steps to Implementing Chat Support

Chat support software can be a powerful tool for offering efficient help from a company website or facilitating staff communication. Studies confirm that chat is both a cost effective and user-friendly tech support channel, but too many organizations add chat without proper planning or have yet to implement it at all.  

Incorporating a chat capability into tech support can be a daunting task, but continuing to rely on email and phone as primary support channels is not a comprehensive solution.

There are a number of actions an organization can take to ensure the success of a new chat channel to support its employees, partners and customers. By following these 10 steps, any organization can transform by implementing a modern chat support solution.

Live Chat Support

1. Establish a baseline: To understand the full impact of chat support, establish a baseline of key service performance metrics. It is significant to track metrics such as service level, abandon rate, first contact resolution, and agent productivity in order to recognize how chat support can be utilized in the best ways. Other metrics to track can include: volume by channel, overall workload, handle time, time to resolve tickets by issue, overall resolution rate, and customer satisfaction.

2. Identify ideal issue types for chat: Review types of issues and identify how the features of chat could hurt or improve efficiency and resolution times for customers. Consider taking advantage of concurrent sessions, and drive sessions that will likely require full remote control. By taking advantage of concurrent sessions, common issues with repeatable steps that require downtime are ideal for handling multiple chats at once.

3. Promote chat in the right places: Creating a communication plan that will drive ideal customer behavior can minimize the concern that organizations have with what percentage and what type of tickets will come through chat. Promoting chat in the right way has a direct impact on usage. An organization can help control which issue types are handled through chat versus other channels by providing customers with a chart of the best support channel for their issue.  

4. Determine optimal staffing levels: Building the proper staff is critical to overall performance. Organizations need to ensure that service levels for chat are consistent with its phone service levels in order to avoid a scenario in which customers overwhelm a particular channel. This is one of the most overlooked steps, but to build an efficient support organization, separate staff members as either chat or phone agents and find the right balance for each channel.

5. Assess who should staff chat: Develop a chat and phone skills matrix to rank the best agents for each channel – do not simply rely on top phone agents. Skills sought after for phone support versus skills valued for chat vary significantly. It’s an incorrect assumption that one entire department can take on this new support channel. A unique set of skills, such as typing and multitasking, are esteemed differently. Agents who perform particularly well in typing speed, accuracy, grammar, and are process oriented should be recruited specifically for staffing chat.

6. Create canned messages: Personalization goes a long way in chat, but building canned language for commonly repeated messages saves time and drives greater efficiency, which will allow agents to quickly select the appropriate message. Consider creating canned messages for greetings, standard troubleshooting questions, process steps, and closings.

7. Establish new processes & train: Avoid applying standard phone processes to chat. When outlining processes for this support channel, consider taking advantage of intelligent routing with a chat entry point, identifying how long an agent should wait for response from a customer, what actions should be taken when the customer is unresponsive, and determining how and when an agent should use canned messages rather than customized responses.

8. Integrate with other systems: Integrate chat into existing service desk environments to create a seamless support experience and a better customer experience, while also reducing tech effort. Two of many points of chat integration include an organization’s remote support software and its ticketing system.

9. Measure critical KPIs & review reporting: Organizations need the ability to measure critical KPIs to identify trends and take corrective measures as its chat support channel grows. Analyzing customer satisfaction scores, resolutions rates, productivity, service levels, and handle times can offer insight into performance against the organization’s baseline metrics.

10. Continuously improve: This last step is to guarantee that an organization’s chat support channel is consistently enhanced by tracking post-chat launch performance against the organization’s established goals for the channel, and analyzing both performance across all channels and customer survey data. Be sure to dive into these details and examine performance by issue type, agent, and customer in order to find ways to improve. Ensure a continuous feedback loop with front line agents by establishing a pre-defined feedback mechanism.

Using chat as a support channel can reduce incident handling times and improve customer satisfaction by allowing support technicians to chat with end users throughout a session. Once an organization recognizes the full potential of chat as a support channel, these steps can help it strategize to create chat support that is ideal for its stakeholders.