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Grimes says companies need to consider how the agents assigned to their account fit in with the product, the support platform and the customers they’re hired to assist.“Disney might have very different expectations out of their chat agents compared to Apple,” Grimes says.

Chat is also a great customer service channel to outsource to an experienced vendor, since non-voice support removes accent challenges, and the advent of reliable translation software can even remove the need for English-speaking agents entirely.But an increase in popularity can result in significant challenges, like larger chat volumes, longer wait queues and agents who are managing multiple chat conversations at once.Also, chat is often a valuable piece of multi-channel support strategy that requires close integration with other channels to be effective.“If you have a good support center rep who’s dealing in chat, they can handle two (if not three) conversations at a time,” says Shep Hyken, a customer service expert and the One of the benefits of chat is that it eliminates the issue of understanding accents over the phone.However, Hyken warns not to overlook developing agents’ overall communication skills.“Both have strong reputations, and are good at supporting their customers, but they have two different approaches to doing it.

So, we need to make sure that we’ve got the right agent profile in place in order to support each approach.” Once agents become acclimated, they can actually service more customers than they typically would with other channels.

People have fallen in love with chat support for two main reasons: Speed and convenience.

The question is, are brands doing everything in their power to maximize the value chat can provide to customers — and to themselves?

Corey Kotlarz, president of Outsource Consultants, has worked with companies across the board to optimize chat support.

He points out why it’s important to take a holistic view of the customer journey, and use chat to contribute to the entire process.

“The most effective customer service using live chat is designed to reduce effort at all stages of the customer journey,” Kotlarz says.