Our support staff here at PhaseWare has learned from our clients that there can be a big difference between phone support and live chat support. I looked for some additional information but using chat for complex customer support is still relatively new, so there wasn’t much to go on.
Apparently, customers who prefer live chat over phone support tend to keep the channel open longer than a typical phone support call. These customers want the issue fully resolved without having to come back to support and start all over again. And they don’t want a quick exchange and get back in touch if they need more help, they would rather keep the channel open while they implement the suggested steps and test it out.
This means that the chat channels may be open for hours with very little interaction. To successfully cope with multiple chats the CSRs must have incredible multitasking and memory skills to work with more than one customer simultaneously. And if a chat stays open to another shift, the support desk needs an easy yet comprehensive way to pass information to the next shift so that the support effort remains on course.
At the best, the customer shouldn’t even notice a shift change has occurred. At the least, even if customers can tell there is a different CSR on the chat, they absolutely should not have to explain their problem again or be asked to repeat steps they have already tried.
Here is my attempt at building a best practice around this type of chat support. Since scheduling support often means creating a way to staff the support center for peak and valley traffic, schedule time for outgoing support agents to spend a few minutes with the incoming CSRs to pass along information about any chats that are still active. Build a few minutes into the schedule for the overlap so there is no gap in availability to customers yet the support interaction for those already on the line is kept up.
If it isn’t feasible for the CSRs to debrief, make it a requirement that those coming on-shift read through open chats to get familiar with what has already been done before signaling they are ready to take over the chat.
Hospitals staff this way. The nurses or laboratory technologists have a scheduled overlap to give them time to pass along information on patients or tests in progress so that quality of care is not impacted, especially for patients with complicated care. Using this method in the support center can mean that the quality of customer care will remain high while the CSRs are assured of both the ability to leave at the end of their shift and to give support without having to jump in blind.
For those of you reading this article, what has been your experience using live chat support? Are you seeing the kind of situation outlined above? What issues have come up and how have you handled it?
I look forward to your both success and nightmare stories. Maybe we can all help each other figure out a best practice for your business.