Featured Image for the blog: 9 Strategies for Using Web Chat in Your Contact Center

Do a quick search for your favorite company, and head to their contact us page. Do you see a set of 1-800 numbers that you know will lead to an automated system (one that will inevitably take too much of your time to punch through?) Or maybe you see a generic email address. What about a place to connect on social media? Nowadays, companies have dozens of ways you can reach out for help, yet customer service still gets a bad rap. Of all the round-about ways customers get a hold of you, web chat is proving to be the easiest way to maneuver through the customer service journey.

While most customers who interact with a customer service agent are more likely to spread their negative experiences than their positive ones, this data shifts when it comes to live chat. Turns out, 20 percent of customers will talk about a negative live chat experience, compared to the 29 percent who will talk about positive experiences with friends and colleagues. And, this is just one tiny slice of the benefits a company will see when they boast a positive web chat experience for their customers. A whopping 90 percent of customers say seeing a “live chat” button on a company’s website gives them confidence they’ll get help when they need it. And, 52 percent of customers will be more likely to make repeat purchases with a company who offers chat support.

There are tons of statistics to back how game-changing web chat can be for your business. But without a strategy in place for how and when you’ll use it, your should-be channel of positivity can easily turn into fuel for your customers’ frustrations.

We’re walking through 9 strategies for using web chat in your contact center, so you can proactively fuel the positive fire rather than trying to smother a negative one later.

1. Use chat for after-hours support.

When your phone lines are down and your customers are in a pinch, have a web chat option for customers to get quick answers. Your agents can take on several chat interactions in a matter of minutes, so you won’t have to call in tons of late-night staff to handle these after-hours interactions. Have a few agents designated to handle on-demand chat support. Then, your customers will feel confident that the time of day won’t affect their success using your product or service.

2. Integrate chat with your CRM.

Web chat should be streamlined with the rest of your systems. That way any time a customer reaches out, your agents can personalize their service. When your chat works with your customer data, conversations with customers can quickly be pinpointed to the correct account and case number – saving your agents and your customers time and frustrations.

3. Make coaching conversational.

As you serve up coaching moments to your team of agents, web chat can be used as a tool to start conversations around their training and feedback. Agents can use web chat transcriptions to ask for clarity on a certain interaction where you left notes. And, they can ping you with quick questions without interrupting their workflow or yours. It simplifies the communication process and helps you create a feedback loop with your agents.

4. Use a chatbot to send your customers self-service options.

Some customer interactions can be solved without agent intervention, and chatbots are certainly a means to make it happen. When you pair bots and automation with web chat, your bot can work behind-the-scenes to recognize common requests. Then, it can send the customer self-help articles, how-to guides, and resources to help them solve their own problem. There should always be an escape route for your customers to bypass the bot and speak with a live agent. But, nowadays more than 60 percent of people prefer to problem-solve on their own by skimming through available resources.

5. Send the customer a copy of their chat transcript post service.

This serves as a receipt for your customers’ conversation with an agent. So many times when someone seeks help, they’ll get the problem solved but forget the steps that got them there. With web chat, though, there’s written proof of how your agent helped a customer. So, if your customer has any questions later or needs to share the outcome with another party, they have a reference point to do so. Plus, if a similar issue pops up down the road, your customer can use the transcript, walk through the steps to fix it, and autocorrect to get back on track.

6. Send surveys through chat to improve the customer experience.

Web chat lets you get responses in-the-moment. So, you get more feedback to shape your customer experience and gauge customer satisfaction. It’s much more natural for customers to answer a few questions in the same chat window they’ve been using rather than staying on the line after a phone call to answer a survey, or being sent a post-interaction email with a link to follow. When you use web chat to get a feel for sentiment, it only adds a few mouse clicks to your customer’s conversation. And, it’s fluid with their customer behavior and interaction with your agent.

7. Evolve your web chat with A.I.

Pair A.I. with web chat to intelligently find patterns in conversations, so you can optimize the customer journey without tagging in an agent until it’s necessary. The easy tasks will get accomplished without using an agent’s time or effort. One example of this could be identifying customers who have looked at more than five self-help resources and having a chat window pop up with a live agent ready to help. Using intelligence with your chat can help you build a more proactive customer service culture.

8. Serve up relevant offers and important information to your customers.

Will your phones be off for an upcoming holiday? Is there maintenance happening for a few hours next week? Have this information pop up as a sidebar when your customer initiates a conversation. Or, close the conversation with the added info, whatever works for your company’s communication style. Give your customers information they can read and reference later, and deliver it to them in a channel they use.

9. Apply your interaction routing to chat.

Phone calls aren’t the only interactions that you can route into a queue. Manage your web chat just like your other channels. Pass chat interactions off to agents who have the capacity to handle them quickly and accurately. Then, provide customers with important information, like when they can expect a response from a live agent, or give them other options and lines of communication to help solve their problem. Include chat in your SLA, so your customers know their interaction will be a priority no matter the channel.

Craft a set of principles and strategic initiatives for using web chat in your contact center. Give your agents a playbook, so they know how to best use the beloved customer channel. Then, they can create happier, more informed customers, and eliminate inefficiencies in the support journey.

For some more statistically-proven ways to improve your contact center, see our blog post on 5 data-backed strategies to improve contact center coaching!