- Step 1: Align chat goals with business objectives
- Step 2: Manage customer experience and chat volume
- Step 3: Determine your staffing requirements
- Step 4: Train your agents
- Step 5: Build a chat workflow
- Step 6: Monitor success metrics and improve chat deployment
Once you have your key success metrics on hand, it’s time to think about the customers’ experience. Optimize the user experience by managing where, when, and how chat is available on your website. Not only will this affect your CSAT, it can also impact your chat volume.
The average web page will get between 5 and 15 chats for every 100 visitors. But, this number can be influenced by a variety of factors, including:
- The location of the chat widget (chat location)
- The number of people who have access to it (chat access)
- The length of time it is available (chat timing)
- Whether chat is proactive or reactive (chat interaction)
Generally speaking, the location of the chat widget should align with your chat goals:
- For most retailers, sales conversion happens on the checkout page. If you want to increase conversion and reduce cart abandonment, then you should add the widget here.
- If you have a mobile gaming app and CSAT is important, consider putting chat inside your app using the Mobile Chat SDK.
- Similarly, for SaaS companies, customers normally make their purchase decision based on their in-product trial experience, so it’s definitely wise to offer chat support for trialers.
However, it’s usually not a good idea to roll out chat to every potential contact point on the first day. Volume is unpredictable and a lack of trained chat agents could very easily lead to frustrated customers. To manage the initial volume of chat, it’s best to roll it out to a few key pages (e.g., checkout, main support page, and FAQ) before expanding.
Monitor the number of chats you get on an hourly and daily basis, determine how many agents you need, and finally tweak your workflow to deal with the chats. Once you’ve got everything set up you can roll it out to more pages.
All it takes to add chat to a select few pages is to add the Zendesk Chat embed code to those specific pages (instead of adding it sitewide). Speak to your development team on how this can be achieved.
Once you’ve determined where to place the widget, consider customizing its design to compliment your brand and website’s visual style. Customers have learned to appreciate good design and expect high quality experiences.
Offering chat support to any customer that comes to your website can seem daunting at first. To keep chat manageable, it’s a good idea to limit support. One way to do this is to restrict chat access to specific customers based on some criteria.
For example, you can place the chat widget behind a gated page, so only VIP customers can gain access. This will minimize the number of chats you receive and also encourage customers to upgrade to VIP status.
If you’re not sure about who should get support, it’s a good idea to do a trial deployment for different groups of customers (e.g., potential vs. paying customers).
Note that while gating chat access can be a good idea at first, it can limit your future sales potential. Chat is a great tool for qualifying leads, closing deals, and rescuing customers who are having problems. If chat is restricted to only a small group of people, you might be missing out on a big opportunity.
C. Chat timing
Initially, you should restrict the number of hours live chat is enabled on your website. A good rule of thumb is to stick to an average 8-hour workday (such as 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.). This will help moderate chats to a manageable level and you will only need to keep Zendesk Chat staffed for the 8-hour period. To make sure none of your agents go online outside of these hours, you can set up Operating Hours to limit access.
When deciding on the availability timings for chat, make sure you monitor the peak periods. Our research indicates that over 50% of chats occur between the peak hours of 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Further, the majority of chats occur during the week, primarily on Mondays and Tuesdays. Offering chat during the busy periods will quickly bring down your customers’ wait time since chat, unlike phone, offers a 1-to-many interaction.
As your business grows across more countries, you may need to extend support hours. When this happens you can again use operating Hours to create multiple schedules or simply leave live chat enabled for 24 hours.
Chat interaction (reactive vs. proactive)
There are two ways agents can interact with customers over chat: reactively or proactively. Reactive chat occurs when a customer clicks on the chat widget to start a chat and an agent responds. In contrast, proactive chat gives your agents the ability to invite customers to chat based on predetermined criteria.
Proactive chat allows you to pre-select specific conditions to automatically engage with customers, without having to manually filter them.
A recent Forrester study found that 44% of US online consumers said they liked having a chat invitation appear during online research or purchase. This is unsurprising as customers who are stuck on a page will benefit from proactive assistance.
You can set up proactive chat in Zendesk Chat using triggers. For example, if you are using Google Analytics to monitor where the major website drop-offs are, you can build a Trigger that proactively reaches out to visitors and retain them. If most first-time visitors hang around for 50 seconds before bouncing off, you might want to proactively chat with them at the 45th second.
Similarly, you can create a trigger on the checkout page that automatically asks customers if they need help after a few minutes have passed. In this way, proactive chat can help customers make a purchase and reduce cart abandonment.
Keep in mind that using proactive chat will significantly increase the number of chats you receive. If each customer is being asked if they need help, many will respond and your agents will have to offer support (or risk leaving a customer unsatisfied). If you don’t have prior experience deploying chat, it’s a good idea to start with reactive chat before deploying it proactively.
Your decisions on the location, access, timing, and type of chat will influence the overall volume. If your site experiences high traffic, it’s not a good idea to roll out chat on all your pages, enable proactive chat, and have just a single agent. This is a good way to overload that one agent and have a bunch of angry customers.
Plan for a slow roll-out and monitor your chat transcripts and CSAT.
As you implement chat on your website, consider the following:
- How does a customer currently reach you for support? How can that experience be improved?
- Do you have experience deploying chat?
- Where do your sales conversions occur? What influences your customers’ purchase decision?
- Where are the gaps in the buying process? Can easy access to chat bridge these gaps?
- Do you know which group of customers you want to provide chat support to?
- Do you currently provide tiered support to paying customers? Do you only want to provide chat to qualified customers, i.e. those logged in?
- Do you sell locally, globally, or to certain regions only?
- Do you know which time of day brings the highest volume of email tickets or phone calls?
- Do you have a global support team, i.e. many dedicated teams supporting each region? Or do you provide support for everyone from a central location?
- Are there any obvious customer traits which require real-time chat intervention?