In January last year, I started a blog series about three principles of a successful live chat operation. I still have a couple of blogs to go, but as a year has gone by, I thought a ”minor" update on the blog that started the series would be in order. So what has changed in a year? One word answer: chatbots.
During the past year, chatbots have driven the change in live chat landscape as the technology powering them has evolved and our understanding how to use them has improved. Year ago chatbots were mostly hype full of undelivered promises. Today they are a force to be reckoned with!
A year ago, I declared the three principles of a successful live chat to be Direction, Quality, and Quantity. That is still correct, but the guidelines for these principles need to be adjusted.
It is 2018, and it is time to make live chat operations intelligent.
First of all, decide what your goal for the live chat is. Are you aiming to drive new business or make customer service more efficient? Whatever your purpose may be, make sure your tools (live chat software, chatbot technology, targeting, and reporting) support that goal.
Second, decide how to deploy available resources. Use your best and most skilled (usually also most expensive) resources to support your goal. Then automate the rest. To give an example, let’s say your goal is to sign up new customers (for marketing automation, CRM, timeshare…). Consider triggering human-to-human conversations for sales interactions and human-to-chatbot discussions for customer service enquiries. Or even better, use chatbot for lead qualification and nurturing before transferring hot leads to human sales reps.
Helping customers should be fun and easy. That in mind, equip chat agents with necessary tools and information to do their jobs. Happy employees lead to delighted customers. Delighted customers bring you money now and again. If live chat agents are assisting website visitors in an online store, they need to have the content of customers' basket readily available. For insurance industry (burdensome with online forms), cobrowse is a real lifesaver. Also, determine the best way for you to measure quality whether interactions are handled by agents made of ones and zeros or flesh and bones.
Customers appreciate fast service above all. It is quite evident that instantly replying chatbot provides precisely that. However, did you know that virtual agent makes employees happier as well? As chatbot automates repeated and mundane tasks, agents can focus on interactions where they can utilise their full skill set. Imagine if a chatbot is used to nurture and qualify leads before transferring them to sales agents. Deal after deal should make agents smile all day long.
To make an impact on the bottom line, you need to maximise volumes of those chat conversations that support your goal plus minimise and/or automate those that do not. With human-to-human communications, avoid overburdening chat agents. Live chat is a real-time communication channel, and too many simultaneous conversations hinder agents causing bad customer experience in the form of prolonged response times. Consider utilising smart canned answers, agent side bots and RPA to optimise agent workflows.
With chatbots, it is possible to enable chat service on websites where it would be otherwise impossible due to overwhelming chat volumes. So today it is time (at the latest) to stop hiding live chat somewhere on the "contact us" page and have it easily available! And don’t worry, you no longer need to have human agents paving the way for chatbots. You can start, at the same time, from scratch with chatbots and human agents. They will play nice and help each other out!
To run a top-notch live chat operation, you need to have clear vision and goals to work towards. Also, you need high-quality interactions in high enough volumes while cutting out the noise to make an impact on the bottom line. Get the basics in place as soon as possible, in 2018 this means utilising smart new tools like chatbots from the get-go!
👉 Check out Three Principles Of A Successful Live Chat Operation -series so far.