There are two major customer service problems live chat can readily fix, and two major problems it can help with but not significantly impact on its own.
The four major customer service problems I’m referring to are:
- Understaffed Teams –
this impacts customer wait times and queue size, and is further aggravated by inefficient processes (e.g. documenting the details of an interaction in a CRM)
- Stagnant CSAT/NPS (stagnant metrics in general) –
CSAT/NPS doesn’t impact customer satisfaction so much as it is a reflection of it, but your response to CSAT/NPS/etc data will impact your ability to turn customers into brand advocates (there are other data-points you should be tracking that can impact NPS/CSAT, however, read more below)
- Low Employee Morale –
this impacts performance as well as retention, and can be caused by any number of factors, discussed below
- Unprofessional Communication –
this impacts the quality of customer interactions, and is as relevant to your marketing organization as it is to your customer service organization
For these latter two issues, it falls to management to be attentive to each rep’s direct interactions with customers.
How Live Chat Can Help with Understaffed Teams
The most obvious benefit of including live chat among your customer service channels is that customers can receive an immediate response to their inquiries. It’s significantly easier to achieve this with live chat than with more traditional mediums (e.g. phone) because customer service reps can manage multiple chats simultaneously, with each customer perceiving little to no delay. Additionally, by looking at trend data, you can easily forecast by time of day and time of year how many live chat agents you’re likely to need to schedule to adequately cover the volume of customer service inquiries you’re likely to receive.
Less obviously, live chat can also help save time with case logging and with future customer interactions. By utilizing a live chat integration, your team can easily attach transcripts to new or existing records in your help desk software or CRM. This saves time both on the wrap-up/documentation end of your current interaction and on the research/information-gathering phase of future interactions. Less time spent in your CRM means more time spent engaging your customers and prospective customers.
The limitation here is that even when using live chat software to increase the total volume of inquiries your customer service team can manage, there is still a limit- you can still be understaffed while using live chat. Typically, paying attention to your trend data to create accurate staffing forecasts will serve as sufficient prevention for this.
How Live Chat Can Help with Stagnant Metrics (e.g. NPS, CSAT)
While you can collect post-interaction surveys in any customer service channel, live chat is particularly well-suited to collecting more granular data and positively improving interactions with customers. I’ll have some great examples to share in a few weeks, but for now and more generally, live chat’s ability to easily collect and report meaningfully on agent-level, team-level, and organization-level data makes it the easiest channel to use to fuel your efforts at continually improving the quality of your customer service. Read more about how live chat reporting can help you improve customer service here.
Moreover, even if you limit yourself to post-interaction surveys only, live chat can be more successful than other customer service channels at improving CSAT/NPS. Because the customer or prospective customer has been interacting with your representative via a chat window, they may already be in the mindset to complete a quick digital survey in that window about the experience they just had.
The more reliably you can collect this kind of customer feedback, the more confidently you can implement changes to improve the quality of the customer service you’re providing, and the sooner you can see the impact of those changes in the next reports of customer feedback data.
The limitation here is that collecting all the data in the world won’t help improve your metrics if you don’t implement changes in response to that data, and monitor the impact of those implemented changes. Live chat software can provide the necessary data, throughout the process, but it’s still your team’s responsibility to act upon that data in order to continually improve.
How Live Chat Can Help with (But Not Altogether Fix) Low Employee Morale
There are any number of causes for low employee morale: poor pay and/or benefits, insufficient or not sufficiently visible consequences for good/poor performance, inadequate opportunities for career advancement, poor company communication (so employees feel uninformed and perceive their company to be at best disorganized and at worst intentionally deceptive), unprofessional or unreasonable supervisors, etc.
You can find a list of common issues that lead to low employee morale here (explained through the framework of common tier one customer service job requirements).
These are issues for management to fix, however live chat can make the job somewhat easier. Live chat software is now able to facilitate professional development and feedback from supervisors or team leads to employees.
How Live Chat Can Help with (But Not Altogether Fix) Unprofessional Customer Service Communication
Your customer service team is the face of your company to customers and prospective customers. It’s critical from a marketing perspective as much as from a customer service perspective that your reps are faithfully representing the values of your company. Whether your definition of professionalism includes casual conversation or neutral but formal language, whether it includes transparency or withholds information until resolutions have been confirmed, you have guidelines you need your employees to follow.
Live chat scripts can certainly help here (they’re also a time-saver), but they can’t solve the problem for you on their own. Your staff need to know when to divert from the script- whether that’s editing the text of a pre-written message to better meet the current customer’s perspective, or writing something entirely fresh. For that reason, it’s important to make sure you’re hiring reps who already have that ability and/or training new reps to develop that ability. Don’t leave it to trial by fire or your customers (and as a result you) might get burned!