Everyone who works in customer service cares about data for three reasons:

  1. to understand for our own sake how we’re doing/what’s happening
  2. to demonstrate to others how we’re doing/what’s happening
  3. to improve how we’re doing and/or better respond to what’s happening

This article will focus on the third function for customer service data: continuous improvement.

Basic Data from Online Chat Software
Online chat software data can inform improvements across a customer service organization.

Online chat software data can inform improvements across a customer service organization.

Most online chat software products offer several types of data, captured automatically from the activity of your website visitors. These include:

  • how visitors got to your site (referring page or website)
  • what pages on your site they visit
  • how long they have been on the page they are currently on
  • what items they add to their shopping cart

This information is obviously useful in the short term for increasing sales conversions, but it’s actually also very useful in the long-term.

Being aware of what sites are driving traffic to your website, knowing what pages represent stumbling blocks for visitors, and making sure your chat agents are trained to recognize and appropriately engage visitors who match a VIP buyer persona are all critical uses of even just the basic data listed above.

Taking Online Chat Software Data Further

Taking it a step further, some online chat software providers offer reporting that connects this information to the specific chat agent who engaged the visitor.

This makes it possible to generate reports that tell you which chat agents are the most effective at various aspects of their job (e.g. working with certain visitor personas, selling/supporting specific products, time management/multi-tasking, tailoring premade messages to each conversations, etc.). This kind of reporting also helps identify which areas even your best agents have room for improvement.

This information is not only valuable for assisting managers with the professional development of these individual chat agents, but it also can help management identify which agents might be best-suited to offer trainings themselves to the rest of the team in the aspects of their job at which they excel.

This strengthens employee engagement, leadership skills, and in general customer service skills among your chat agents- as they are now helping each other improve.

The Future of Performance Management through Online Chat

But online chat software can go even further than that. It can tell you what wording in your scripts resonates best with each visitor persona, it can provide managers the ability to coach chat agents while remotely shadowing them, and it can provide ROI reports that point you towards opportunities to capture additional revenue.

When online chat first became a standard for businesses, it was because companies recognized the efficiency with which online chat could satisfy customer service needs. This tremendous improvement in customer service resulted in a greater number of sales being completed, in larger order sizes, and most predictably: in creating more positive, lasting impressions with customers.

Today, online chat still represents the channel of efficiency, as well as a customer service channel that proves the return on investment for customer service spend. But with the ever-increasing emphasis on data collection and intelligent use of data, online chat is becoming the customer service channel of improving ROI.

With tighter feedback loops on more granular data points, online chat is now capable of informing effective messaging, website design, and upsell opportunities across the company.

It’s important to note that other customer service channels are making strides in the “use of data” direction as well. One-click surveys embedded in normal customer service email responses (note: the link points to a detailed ‘how to’, but just skim the page to get a sense for what I’m referring to) are simple on the customer/user side but informative and actionable on the customer service team side, and speech analytics/emotion detection can provide the data necessary to improve phone conversations, for example. Use of these tools is not mutually exclusive with use of online chat software to improve ROI, I am merely calling attention to them here to underscore that this shift to continuous improvement isn’t limited to the online chat channel.

Performance management is not a new phenomenon to customer service, but the quality of the tools available to make it easier and more impactful to take a continuous improvement approach are new, and will continue to set the bar higher for remarkable customer service.