Ask an Expert: How We Prepare Our Support Team to Handle Live Chat
Live chat is now the preferred communication method for many customers, with 73% of customers reporting to be more satisfied with their live chat experience versus other methods. It’s important for support teams across industries and verticals to adapt to effectively handle this channel. With the launch of live chat on CallTrackingMetrics, we decided to sit down with our Director of Customer Support Frank Roberts to learn more about how he prepares our own support team to succeed on this channel.
How do you prepare your team to handle chat in addition to phone calls or emails?
Generally speaking, we have a gradual process to prepare our team members to work with customers, whether through phone, email, or live chat. Our new team members come to us as problem solvers and critical thinkers. They’re introduced to the product on Day 1, and by the end of the first week, they’re solving tickets initiated by customer emails. After successfully solving 100 tickets, they have collected significant knowledge of some of the issues and concerns faced by our customers.
During this process, newer team members observe our more experienced agents directly in our chat platform. They see the types of questions asked and the solutions provided by the training agent and have the opportunity to ask questions as they observe how to use the chat tool. Once the new team member starts taking chats, our team leads are available for questions and will monitor them in real time to ensure that the new agent is staying on point. Once our team leads feel the new agent is ready to go solo, the agent will receive chats independently — but our team leads are never too far away!
How many chats do agent typically handle at once?
Our goal is for our agents to handle a single chat at a time. This provides the best experience for the customer and allows them to focus all of their attention on the chatter’s needs. We manage our queue and staffing to accommodate this. At times, there may be more requests through our chat portal than the agents that we have available. In this case, our agents may take more than a single chat.
Do you offer chat throughout the full support day, or at particular high volume times? How do you handle chat during off hours when agents aren’t available?
We offer chat to our customers during our full support hours. When a customer submits a request for services via chat outside our normal business hours, a ticket is created and the issue is addressed at the beginning of the next business day. If a chat is missed during business hours, a ticket is created as well and we respond to the customer at the next opportunity.
How do you handle if a chat needs to be escalated to a manager or a phone call?
Since our manager has access to our chat tools, they can join in the chat directly, either with the agent or independently of the agent. Occasionally we will call the customer from a chat if we aren’t able to understand the issue or concern and believe a phone call would help. More often than not, we use chat to augment our phone calls because our agent can share weblinks and screenshots with customers.
How often do you refresh or update your macro messages?
We perform quarterly reviews on our macro messages to ensure they are timely and fresh. With many of them, we may change the wording while striving to deliver the intended message. That said, we have very limited canned responses. We encourage our team members to express their personality as they would on a phone call. As with any written communication, great care must be taken to keep the conversation professional and on-point.
Do you find agents prefer chat over other support methods?
The preferred support method is really based on the agent’s personalities and skill sets. I’ve seen agents who better express themselves in writing prefer chats. Inversely, agents who have the spoken word come to them more easily tend to prefer phone support over other methods. That said, we’re here to serve the customer regardless of how they present their issue or concern.
What about customers?
As with the agents, the preference of the method of receiving support varies widely based on the customer. However, since 2018, we’ve seen almost 40% of our live inbound support contacts come in through chat, so it’s definitely a growing trend.