Implementing web chat on your website? Follow these best practice tips
Web chat facilities can be a very useful marketing and research adjunct to your website and more and more businesses are now adding this service to help – and attract – users. Like everything online though it needs to be set up and managed properly to be an advantage rather than a frustration. Web chat facilities that can’t resolve problems, take an age to respond to a customer query or talk to the users in unhelpful or disrespectful tones will not enhance your reputation or your bottom line sales.
If you are planning to move into this area – and it is certainly worth considering – here are a few basic rules of web chat user experience best practice to make sure you get the most out of it. Or at least that you don’t launch into an unmitigated disaster!
- Ensure your systems are robust enough to deal with the volume and nature of complaints and set up to make the agents’ jobs easy and doable. For example make sure they have smooth access to your CRM database and customer info and have clear guidelines and escalation procedures for more difficult issues. Templated responses and crib sheets can also help in this aspect. Web chat conversations tend to take longer so set up your systems so an agent can deal with more than one at a time.
- Establish default Q&A and query resolution pages or even a Facebook portal or online customer forums to help deal with high volume levels or unexpected emergencies where agents might not be able to cope with demand. Monitor to make sure these are accurate, updated and accessible as well as clearly flagged to customers with a problem or seeking urgent updates on a situation.
- Use your best people for the user interface; train them properly, give them incentives, grade them according to attainment and ability. These are your main CRM interface and you need them to be top-notch – intuitive and sensitive to customer needs and fully understanding their role and its importance. Token gestures won’t work here and are only likely to damage rather than bolster reputation.
- Transfer to other channels should be seamless and simple so an agent can process a converted customer or deal with any other agreed resolutions or action.
- Three-way chat is an innovation that is being increasingly used. This involves engaging a third-party expert from elsewhere in your organisation to deal with a particular technical or difficult issue. This can be especially useful for providing remoter diagnostic or troubleshooting services to customers.
- Web chat can also be incorporated into mobile sites or apps. This is especially advantageous as mobile users won’t want to be hanging around on hold waiting for customer services to answer their query.
- Get the tone of voice right. Abrupt welcomes are not very welcoming although better than no welcome at all. Chat as you would speak in the real world or how your brand tone of voice should be portrayed.
Once you have the facility in place and working efficiently don’t ignore the web chat user experience information and research aspects that this can facilitate. Record and transcribe all exchanges so you have a data resource that can tell you about problems in real time task flow on your website or glitches between promotional or information links and your site. It can also help identify functionality problems; in fact, if set up and used properly it can almost be a live testing regime for your site or app and any future modifications or versions you introduce.
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