Who Really Needs Assistance? Influencing the Choice to Live Chat

Kevin Gao

Posted on February 28th 2014

Who Really Needs Assistance? Influencing the Choice to Live Chat

While live chat has received accolades from customers as a quick and efficient way to communicate with companies and organizations, one question remains: Should we offer live chat to all of our customers for every reason or scenario? Now it sounds like a great idea, but is it the best option for both company and customer? Read on as we take a deeper look for answers.

Who’s Right for Live Chat?

When attempting to determine which customer inquiry or request is right for your live chat channel, here are a few things to consider:

1. The volume of customer interactions.

2. The value of each interaction type to your organization.

3. The complexity of the various customer interactions.

who really needs assitance

 Let the journey begin!

Volume of Customer Interactions

When determining which customer is right for your live chat channel, it’s a good idea to get a handle on the number of customers currently utilizing all available communication channels. Take a look at the number of phone calls, calls initiated from your website, emails, SMS text messages, etc. that your organization is currently handling on a daily basis. Look at this exercise as a way to qualify candidates for live chat.

Ask:

  • Why is the customer calling, initiating calls from the website, emailing, and texting?
  • What does the customer want or need assistance with? Examples of the interactions might be billing inquiries, support requests, address changes, password resets or subscription renewals.
  • What actions are taken to meet customer needs?

Break the analysis out by company departments. The answers to these questions will reveal your contact drivers. While this exercise may appear cumbersome, the payoff will be huge later when developing your live channel strategy. If this information is utilized properly, an increase in live chat customer satisfaction ratings will be the result as one looks to proactively deflect inquiries and requests that can be handled outside of the live chat channel. Another by-product of this analysis is the identification of operational improvement opportunities which may fall outside of the live chat channel spectrum.

Interaction Value

Now let’s determine how valuable each of these interactions is to your company. Create three value categories – low value, medium value and high value. The interaction reasons identified during your analysis should now be valued.

Ask these questions when attempting to determine interaction value:

  • Which customer inquiries require an immediate response from someone within the company?
  • How many of the inquiries are informational in nature, such that can possibly be handled by an artificial agent or web self-service?
  • Which inquiries are critical to building and or maintaining profitable customer relationships?

Here’s what the categories might look like when filled with inquiries:

High Value              Medium Value       Low Value

Support requests        billing inquiry       information request                                                                                                                                                                             Emails                                             address changes

Interaction Complexity

Customer interaction requests vary in their complexity. Some require a minimal amount of agent activity to address the request, while other requests may require more time and effort to assist customers. To put it simply, analyzing requests for complexity is an exercise to determine which requests require the most agent effort to service the customer.

Two questions one might ask are:

  • How much information will the agent need to retrieve to meet the customer’s need?
  • What level of agent expertise is required to handle a situation?

Just as we did when placing value on customer inquiries, we’ll do the same for complexity. Let’s create complexity categories – low complexity, medium complexity and high complexity. Using the same requests for the valuing example, let’s see what a typical complexity box might contain.

High Complexity      Medium Complexity      Low Complexity

Support requests            billing inquiry              information request

Billing inquiry                                               address change

Right  for Chat

After taking the time to complete the exercises, one is more than likely able to decide which customers inquiries and requests are prime candidates for live chat. It’s easy to see that your high value/high complexity inquiries or requests will benefit from utilizing your live chat channel. Here are a few tips for providing a great customer experience for these customers.

  • The high value/high complexity requires an experienced agent with solutions oriented information at the ready in order to provide a positive customer experience. Features such as your live chat knowledge base should contain the information required to handle this scenario. Combine this with the typing notification feature to assist live chat agents in preparing a solution as customers input information in order to provide a quick and accurate response.
  • Sales opportunities may create a high value/low complexity scenario where a customer has repeatedly made purchases with your company. Utilization of your live chat platform’s history feature will enable live chat agents to spot repeat customers.
  • Low value/low complexity requests should be tactfully directed to self-serve areas (directories, FAQs, etc.) of your Website by chat agents. This may assist in reducing future unnecessary chat requests.
  • Configure your live chat platform to activate the auto invitation feature when customers linger on or sequentially visit sales and or support oriented pages.
  • Strategically place chat buttons on sales and or support related website pages rather than all pages to decrease the level of low value/low complexity chat requests.
  • For customers with low value/low complexity inquiries/requests, provide a list of self-service options on your Contact Us or Need Assistance pages to deflect chat requests.
  • Live chat reporting capabilities will assist in identifying short sessions which may be an indicator of low value/low complexity request or inquiries creeping into the channel.

Remember – Make sure that your live chat channel is tuned for high value/high complexity customer inquiries and requests. Start by determining the volume of interactions across all communication channels, assign an interaction value to request and inquiry types and develop interaction complexity levels in order to create an efficient live chat channel.

Kevin Gao

Kevin Gao

CEO, Comm100

Kevin Gao is the founder and CEO of Comm100, a leading provider of live chat software for business. As a software developer as well as a small business expert, he’s always ambitious to revolutionize the way of online customer service and communication. Follow Kevin on Google+ to find out more about him.

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Comments

Kevin, this is a really comprehensive guide to harnessing the benefits of chat. As you say it has to be part of a joined-up, multichannel solution that makes it easy for customers to gain answers to low value/low complexity enquiries through other channels, such as web self-service. Deployed correctly, proactive web chat can increase sales while at the same time boosting customer satisfaction – more in the Eptica blog at http://eptica.wordpress.com/2013/05/23/unlocking-revenue-with-proactive-web-chat/