10 steps to ensure success when implementing chat for customer support

This vendor-written tech primer has been edited by Network World to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favor the submitter’s approach.

Studies confirm that chat is both a cost effective and user-friendly tech support channel, but too many organizations add chat without proper planning or have yet to implement it at all. These ten steps can help ensure you successfully implement a modern chat support solution to support employees, partners and customers:

1. Establish a baseline: To understand the full impact of chat support, establish a baseline of key service performance metrics. It is important to track metrics such as service level, abandon rate, first contact resolution and agent productivity in order to recognize how chat support can be best utilized. Other metrics to track can include: volume by channel, overall workload, handle time, time to resolve tickets by issue, overall resolution rate, and customer satisfaction.

2. Identify ideal issue types for chat: Review types of issues and identify how the features of chat could hurt or improve efficiency and resolution times. Consider taking advantage of concurrent sessions, and drive sessions that will likely require full remote control. By taking advantage of concurrent sessions, common issues with repeatable steps that require downtime are ideal for handling multiple chats at once.

3. Promote chat in the right places: Creating a communication plan that will drive ideal customer behavior can minimize the concern with what percentage and what type of tickets will come through chat. Promoting chat in the right way has a direct impact on usage. You can help control which issue types are handled through chat versus other channels by providing customers with a chart of the best support channel for their issue.  

4. Determine optimal staffing levels: Building the proper staff is critical to overall performance. You need to ensure that service levels for chat are consistent with phone service levels in order to avoid a scenario in which customers overwhelm a particular channel. To build an efficient support organization -- this is one of the most overlooked steps -- separate staff members as either chat or phone agents and find the right balance for each channel.

5. Assess who should staff chat: Develop a chat and phone skills matrix to rank the best agents for each channel – do not simply rely on top phone agents. Skills sought after for phone support versus skills valued for chat vary significantly. Don’t assume one department can take on this new support channel. Skills such as typing and multitasking vary. Agents who perform particularly well in typing speed, accuracy, grammar and are process oriented should be recruited specifically for staffing chat.

6. Create canned messages: Personalization goes a long way in chat, but building canned language for commonly repeated messages saves time and drives greater efficiency, which will allow agents to quickly select the appropriate message. Consider creating canned messages for greetings, standard troubleshooting questions, process steps and closings.

7. Establish new processes and train: Avoid applying standard phone processes to chat. When outlining processes for this support channel, consider taking advantage of intelligent routing with a chat entry point, identifying how long an agent should wait for response from a customer, what actions should be taken when the customer is unresponsive, and determining how and when an agent should use canned messages rather than customized responses.

8. Integrate with other systems: Integrate chat into existing service desk environments to create a seamless support experience and a better customer experience, which will also reduce tech effort. Two of many points of chat integration include an organization’s remote support software and its ticketing system.

9. Measure critical KPIs and review reporting: You need the ability to measure critical KPIs to identify trends and take corrective measures as your chat support channel grows. Analyzing customer satisfaction scores, resolutions rates, productivity, service levels and handle times can offer insight into performance against your baseline metrics.

10. Continuously improve: This last step is to guarantee that your chat support channel is consistently enhanced by tracking post-chat launch performance against your established goals for the channel and analyzing both performance across all channels and customer survey data. Be sure to dive into these details and examine performance by issue type, agent and customer to find ways to improve. Ensure a continuous feedback loop with front line agents by establishing a pre-defined feedback mechanism.

Using chat as a support channel can reduce incident handling times and improve customer satisfaction by allowing support technicians to chat with end users throughout a session. Once an organization recognizes the full potential of chat as a support channel, these steps can help it strategize to create chat support that is ideal for its stakeholders.  

Bomgar is a secure access solutions provider.


By Donald Hasson, director of ITSM product management, Bomgar

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