21 Top Tips For Using Webchat in the Contact Centre

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Webchat is becoming the channel of choice for many customers, particularly of the younger generation. But little information has been published on how to use it to best effect.

We asked our panel for their tips on how to get the best out of webchat.

1. Better FAQs can reduce webchats

Having more prominent Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on your home page can reduce the volume of webchats.

Thanks to Jeff D.

2. Webchat can lead to a reduction in phone calls

We have found that webchat has not decreased emails, but it has produced a significant reduction in calls. Our team of 3 deals with over 2,000 emails/chats per month at about a 50% split. But we do also have an automatic email response system that currently runs at about 45% answer rate.

We use webchat for technical support, pre-sales and registration. We find it really useful and in most cases can deal with the customer quite quickly.

Thanks to Debbie.

3. Don’t start doing webchat without a clear strategy

Never open up a new channel without a clear strategy. Without having decided *what* effect you want to reach, and *how* the channel at hand will contribute to that, you’ll likely just increase your contact volumes without anything to show for it.

We’ve piloted webchat. It worked fine from a quality of service point of view, but it was hard to make out if we actually increased conversion rates.

Thanks to Fredrik.

4. Be proactive in initiating a webchat

Some webchat software provides a wide range of features which enable your agents to tell where the customer has come from, what they’re looking at, where the customer is based and how long they have been browsing your website. The agent can then be proactive and initiate a webchat with a personalised invitation.

5. Make sure that your webchat has a consistent ‘voice’

We have found difficulties in staff members conforming to one company ‘voice’ on webchat. This has been a challenge for use, but webchat does seem very useful for customers who are unable to make a phone call.

6. Webchat has reduced call volumes, but not emails

I haven’t seen a decrease in email, but I think it can decrease incoming call volume, especially for customers who have vague queries about a product. These queries can be dealt with much more quickly and easily via webchat so it’s easy to separate the ‘lookers’ from the ‘bookers’.

Thanks to Marc.

7. Webchat is difficult in Financial Services…

Webchat is difficult in Financial Services as we can’t get customer details through the webchat as it’s not a secure channel. This often generates follow-up calls, both inbound and outbound.

Thanks to Ruth.

8. .. But you can use it  after customers log in

We are a financial institution and are adding webchat to online banking, after the customer has logged on. The customer is authenticated and it is possible to discuss transactional information…

Thanks to Lennert.

9. Follow webchat with a post-chat questionnaire

If you are using webchat, drop in a post-chat questionnaire to the customer. You can then monitor the NetPromoter Score (NPS) in real time.

10. Give your webchat agents a female name

If you are using webchat for sales, give all agents a female ‘name’. Sales will increase!!!

11. Webchat leads to fewer post-sales customer issues

Webchat is excellent for controlling volumes… through proactive chat. We have evidence of incremental sales volume versus telemarketing, with fewer post-sales customer issues.

12. You can blend webchat and social media

We can blend phone calls and mail effectively. Webchat and social media is a fundamentally different agent skill and competency set.

Thanks to Keith.

13. Use selectively

Webchat can be relatively expensive compared to IVR and web self-service so won’t be cost effective for every type of transaction. While typically used for complex and highly technical interactions, it can also be invaluable in customer situations where one-to-one advice is required.

14. Select the right advisors for the job

Not all phone-based service advisors are comfortable handling webchat. Assess the suitability of advisors to handle contacts not just by their product knowledge and service skills but also by their written skills. Provide additional skills training as required.

15. Always be professional

While the nature of webchat means that a less formal language style can be used, it is important that advisors write in a professional manner. Bad grammar and spelling reflects very badly on an organisation, and can be easily avoided by automated spell checking before sending messages.

16. Problem resolution is more important than quick service

Advisors cannot always deliver first contact resolution via webchat. When they can’t, a suitable time should be arranged to get back in touch with customers –  possibly using other channels such as phone or email. For customers to continue to have confidence in webchat, advisors must deliver on their promises to make contact within the timescales indicated.

17. Be secure. Be sure

Advisors must be completely satisfied that they are speaking to the correct person before giving out sensitive information. That’s why strict identification processes are necessary and must always be followed.

18. Record all contacts

As with any customer interaction, it is important that webchat conversations are recorded, indexed and stored for easy access at a later date.

Thanks to Laura Campos, Marketing Associate, Ultra Communications.

19. Quality check your webchats

Webchat is often not as formal as a letter, so mistakes can be made in grammar and information delivery.

Measure your perception of quality against the customers. Monitor a contact and have a result based on company standards/expectations and evaluate this against the customer experience specifically through CSAT.

Thanks to Kevin.

20. People expect a webchat to pick up where they left off

Unlike a phone call, where people stay on the line, on a webchat people have a habit of drifting off mid chat – for example to make a cup of tea. They then come back and expect the webchat to pick up in the same place!

21. Have a maximum of three chat sessions per agent

You should have a maximum of three simultaneous chat sessions per agent. They can’t cope with any more. For sensitive issues (such as for counselling) you may need a one-to-one ratio.

Thanks to Chris.

Find more tips for best using webchat in the contact centre, by reading our articles:

Author: Jonty Pearce

Published On: 9th Jan 2013 - Last modified: 17th Jul 2020
Read more about - Technology, ,

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1 Comment
  • I am so happy to see #12. So many organizations see web chat or social media as a great filler to increase productivity, and just end up falling on their face with quality.

    Great article!!

    Michael McMillan 30 Jan at 16:48