Webchat is fast becoming a favourite channel of engagement for customers, as it provides a fast and convenient way to get answers when online.
Many businesses are realising they need to have this option available to customers or risk losing them. But webchat is not as simple as adding an app to a website.
Like any other customer-engagement tool, there needs to be a clear strategy on how it will be used so the right resources are allocated to make it effective.
Here are some of the things that need to be taken into consideration:
What’s the primary function?
Is the primary purpose of implementing webchat to boost sales or improve customer service? Webchat is effective for both, but the primary purpose will determine the resources and format that webchat takes on.
If it’s to be used for sales, then you’ll want to consider if you plan to offer a 24/7 response. This has both pros and cons.
On the negative side, it can become difficult and expensive to always have staff available to answer queries. However, in sales it’s likely that webchat will be used when customers have a query before checkout. Not being available could cause them to abandon the cart and shop elsewhere.
Similarly, if webchat is used for service, what expertise is needed? Will it require someone with technical knowledge to be able to assist customers?
Who chats first?
If the purpose is to drive sales or improve customer service, then you may opt for a proactive approach, inviting customers to chat as soon as they engage online.
The downside of this is that, while some customers might welcome it, others may find it intrusive or annoying; so knowing your customers will be key to answering this question.
The alternative is to have chat available, but to wait for customers to initiate the conversation before engaging with them.
In this case, the customer has control, but waiting for the customer to come to you could result in missed opportunities in terms of sales or service.
In-house or outsourced?
Depending on your strategy for webchat, getting it operational may require more resources than you currently have available.
You’d then need to make the decision on whether to set up and hire the resources needed or to outsource the webchat to a third party who specialises in operating webchats. Both have their pros and cons.
Outsourcing could mean that you could be operational faster; however, you will need to ensure that the people engaging with your customers have the right level of expertise and understand and represent your brand well.
Setting up your own webchat division in-house means that you could use existing sales or service resources. However, finding the right system and training staff on how to use it effectively could take time.
How many chats?
One of the benefits of webchat is that a single agent can engage with more than one customer at a time, making more effective use of resources compared to a voice interaction.
However, the number of chats one can simultaneously handle is a hot debate. Too few, and resources aren’t being optimised. Too many, and the customer experience can decline. Agents could get confused between conversations and respond inaccurately, or there could be delays in getting back to customers.
It must be remembered that one of the benefits of webchat is the immediacy of getting a response, and delays could turn this advantage into a negative customer experience.
Ultimately, the number of interactions will depend on the skill and efficiency of the agent in question, but companies shouldn’t set the benchmark at maximum capacity.
Text only or video too?
While most customers are happy to chat via text, having an option to video chat makes the engagement much more personal.
Regardless of whether it’s a sales or service query, a video chat is more likely to produce a better customer experience. The only downside of this is that agents won’t be able to engage with more than one customer at a time on video.
However, the value of gaining that one customer or retaining them through a positive video engagement may be worthwhile.
There is a growing need for companies across all sectors to have webchat available. But like any customer channel it needs to be approached with a clear strategy in mind.
For more on this topic, read the Ember Group whitepaper: Ready to Chat?
To find out more about Ember Group, visit: www.embergroup.co.uk