Step 5: Build a chat workflow Follow

Most companies don’t offer solely chat support. they also have email, social media, help forums, FAQs, and phone support.

Providing support across multiple channels is challenging yet essential for an organization that wants to offer the best experience to its customers. For example, if a customer asks about your shipping policy on Facebook, instead of simply answering the question, it might be more effective to give the answer and also link them to a page on your FAQ. The customer probably had a number of related queries and by showing them the FAQ section you’ve answered all their questions in one go.

Not only will this increase CSAT, it will decrease overall chat volume and response rates. Putting processes in place to deal with this kind of ticket deflection is critical to the success of the chat channel.

Find the right tools for support

Monitor the status of all your channels from one dashboard with Zendesk Support.

Support platform makes it easier to:

  • Respond to customers (ticketing)
  • Offer self-service answers (Help Center)
  • Proactively engage

Chat is seamlessly built into Support, so agents can quickly switch between serving chats, phone calls, emails, or social media messages.

Build a workflow

Once you’ve chosen a support suite that works well with Chat, you’ll want to set up a workflow that addresses the following:

  • A consistent support experience for customers
  • A reliable escalation path
  • An agent assignment plan
  • Real-time channel management and monitoring

Support experience for customers

Research shows that 83% of online shoppers need support to complete a purchase. This suggests that a business that does not offer some form of support will lose up to four-fifths of its customer base.

However, customers are more comfortable connecting with business using their preferred channels and at times of their choosing. It’s important to be able to anticipate how your customers want to contact you and offer them that choice.

Using Zendesk, you can set up email, phone, social and chat support, as well as a knowledge base and community.

When visitors come to your website they will be greeted by the Web Widget letting them start a chat, access your Help Center, or email for support, all without interrupting their shopping experience.

This seamless support experience will enable customers to get support however they want.

Escalation path

In most cases, your chat agents will be expected to solve a customer’s problem on the first try. However, there will be situations where the agent will lack the knowledge, expertise, or time to offer a solution. In such cases, it’s a good idea to have a plan for escalation.

With Zendesk Chat and Support, you can easily assign a chat ticket during or after a chat to another agent. The second agent can then directly communicate with the customer (for example via email) and resolve their issues.

Escalation has three major benefits:

  • The most qualified agent handles the issue
  • Front-line chat agents are able to free up their time and help multiple customers
  • Deficiencies in the support process can be easily traced and rectified

Agent assignment plan

Offering multi-channel customer service is the core of any organization’s support strategy. In some cases, it’s not possible for agents to do everything and it’s critical that there is a plan in place for assigning agents to channels.

There are two methodologies for channel assignment. In a shared model, agents handle some or all channels simultaneously. In a dedicated model, agents are focused on a single channel. 

  • Dedicated model: There are pros and cons to either method, but in general, if your organization has more than 10 agents it is recommended to use the dedicated model. In this format, agents focus their attention on customers from one channel. For example, chat agents would only service chat customers for the duration of their shift.

    This model allows agents to develop a solid understanding of one channel and find the most effective methods of helping customers. Further, a dedicated model allows the support team to scale more effectively.

    The downside of this model is that agents often don’t get a deeper understanding of a customer’s problems as they end up escalating complex queries. This results in them (potentially) developing a shallower skill set.
  • Shared model: In a shared model, agents are expected to work on the channels that require most attention and then switch over to other channels as they become busier. For example, a shared agent might start their day working on email support, but then switch over to serving chats as more start coming in.

    The advantage of this model is that agents maximize their time and are always solving customer queries. However, an agent would have to be highly trained to be able to effectively switch between multiple channels with little notice.

Real-time channel management and monitoring

Escalation paths and channel assignment plans can go out the window during periods of high volume, like Black Friday sales. To ensure your customer service levels aren’t dipping, it’s important to have a manager who is always looking at your support metrics. Using Monitor, a support manager gets an overview of the size of the incoming chat queue, average wait time, overall agent chat load, and CSAT scores.

Using this dashboard, the support manager can make quick decisions to ensure customers keep receiving the same quality of support they are used to. For example, if the support manager notices that the chat queue is growing and wait times are increasing, they can pull an agent from another channel and ask them to start serving customers on chat.

Zendesk Chat's native features

Chat offers a number of features that make it easier to manage your chats:

  • Shortcuts or “canned responses” can be used to create greetings, queries in different languages, responses to frequently asked questions, and links to the help center. Shortcuts helps agents reply to questions much faster and helps you maintain brand consistency.
  • Departments are useful to segment agents on the basis of location (country), product, brand, business unit (billing, support), or even skill level. This ensures that the agent with the most knowledge is dealing with a particular query.
  • Triggers are a great way to proactively engage customers and increase conversions. Triggers let you automatically create actions based on certain criteria. For example, you can create a trigger to assist visitors who get stuck on a particular page of your website.
  • Chat rating lets customers leave a positive or negative rating during a chat. This lets you measure CSAT and agent performance.
  • Analytics gives you a bird’s eye view of your chat and agent activity. You can use it to track the chats you have with customers and increase the efficiency of your team.
  • Chat Routing automatically assigns incoming chats to active agents. This ensures your customers receive prompt support, your agents don’t get overloaded and your team managers can manage volume.
  • Monitor offers managers an easily digestible overview of chat, agent, and CSAT metrics. This allows you to make short-term workforce management decisions by providing actionable data on chat volume, visitor experience, and agent performance.
  • The High Load Dashboard is useful for organizations with thousands of concurrent visitors. It will only show incoming chats and currently served visitors. All other visitors remain hidden.
  • The REST API can be used to export chat, agent, and visitor data into third party apps. You can use this data to build your own reporting and monitoring tools.

Additional considerations

As you fine-tune your work flow, keep the following in mind:

  • Which channels do you offer (or plan on offering) support for?
  • What feedback have customers given about your support offering?
  • What is your support budget? How many channels can you effectively staff?
  • What kind of experience do you want to offer customers?
  • Do you want to give customers the option of choosing the support channel they want to use? Or would you like to provide chat first and only offer phone support for escalations?
  • Who’s going to provide chat support? Is there a dedicated chat team or will your existing email team do both email and chat support?
  • How experienced are your agents and support managers? Can they manage more than one channel?

Next: Step 6: Monitor success metrics and improve chat deployment

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