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How To Design Business Processes for Live Chat

Delivering service in the channels customers prefer, as they need assistance, is one of the reasons Live Chat is gaining more acceptance and satisfaction as it matures. In fact, Forrester has found that nearly half of consumers appreciate having their questions answered by a live agent when making a purchase online without having to switch channels.

Chat is not the same as the voice channel. Processes are different, and just converting what is done in voice to the digital environment will be less than successful. Further, some transactions are not suitable for the chat channel, while others thrive there due to ease and convenience for customers.

What should companies consider in designing business processes for Live Chat?

Business process design for sales supported via live chat is most successful when the service can target the website visitors who fit the campaign goal through behavior and value assessment. For example – consumers lingering on product pages and/or remove a product from their cart after displaying hesitation.

Goals for your eSales chat program can include:

  • Driving customer acquisition
  • Improving conversion rates
  • Increasing average order size

Whereas business process design for service will focus on developing rules usually based on specific service questions and problems or glitches for high-value product types. Goals for service delivered through a live chat program can include:

  • Increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty
  • Meeting (exceeding) customer expectations
  • Developing and engaging brand advocates
  • Improve Net Promoter Score (NPS)

What are the key elements to be incorporated in chat business process design?

To meet the needs of customers for first contact resolution, satisfaction, and quality of interaction, three elements must be incorporated.

  • Resource Planning
  • Online Optimization
  • Platform capabilities

Resource Planning

A thorough mapping for the desired chat service—issue resolution, tech support, or sales assistance—will help to determine points of interaction for the chat agents, chat drivers, queues, and agent skillsets that will need to be addressed. Based on the scenarios developed, concurrency can be estimated.  This estimation will then be used for staffing and resource plans, recruitment planning, seating arrangements, and support resources. Establishing the appropriate resource allocation is a critical component of success.

The customer has a lot of control over how fast the chat will go. Resource planning should help you to determine agent capacity or occupancy. While skilled chat agents can handle as many as three chats concurrently, it’s not the norm that they do so all the time. Plan for spare occupancy at a rate of 20% to make sure an agent is available for the next chat session. Simple tasks, such as password resets, are well suited for concurrent chats. More complex issues, such as statement reviews, are not.

Online Optimization

Optimization of the business process includes an assessment of the chat platform, associated functionality available for online workflows, and the knowledgebase. By developing an understanding of the options that can be utilized, interactional efficiencies can be determined when designing the program to address the scenarios defined during resource planning.

This includes:

  • Identifying complex issues vs. simple, repetitive transactional interactions to create the most effective workflows and determine concurrency objectives
  • Identifying buyer trends from the onset to maximize performance and agent efficiency

Based on the above, you can now identify which scenarios will benefit from chat. It’s important to realize that chat—used optimally—must address the right issues. If you try to handle every possible interaction that can arise with chat, efficiency will diminish. The litmus test should be whether the scenario is one where agents can help customers complete the task themselves. If the interaction would require that the agent solves the problem for the customer, then the phone is a better option.

Platform Capabilities

Chat programs must be supported by technology platforms that enable the effective implementation of your program and processes. When evaluating chat platforms, it’s important to assess the capabilities available that will aid in continuous improvements to optimize the program as it evolves based on learnings from chat sessions.

Four capabilities to consider using are:

  1. Dashboards: While it’s important to provide supervisors and team leads with dashboards that reflect progress against KPIs and other goals, it’s also important to make sure that there is a view for employees as well. An employee dashboard should enable each CSR to assess their performance toward goal achievement, but it can also be motivational for them to monitor the performance of their peers and team.
  2. Data Collection: The data gathered should include visitor history, chat and conversation transcripts and history, length of chat, data and time, and other factors. This comprehensive data will provide critical insights that can be applied by your analytics team to continually refine the program towards reaching new heights of performance, as you’ll see later in this paper.
  3. Reporting: Given the depth of data collected, it’s important to understand how flexible the reporting tool is based on the varying needs of staff: from team leads to quality assurance personnel to site managers, and customer experience leaders.
  4. Concurrency Controls: Given the benefits of concurrent chats, it’s also important to assess any platform you’re evaluating for controls that enable CSRs to streamline how they manage and interact with concurrent chats, so the experience is seamless for the customer.

Live Chat is a great way to drive new and incremental online sales

Digital care—including Live Chat—is not just about lowering costs and boosting productivity, but a way to create real top-line growth. Live Chat is an effective sales channel to improve conversion rates and increase average order size. When customers participate in chat, they are 3 – 5 times more likely to convert than regular website visitors.

Customers who have been assisted through Live Chat spend 60% more per order, on average, than customers who have not.

A market-leading Communication Service Provider (CSP) had a goal to drive more direct sales from digital channels. SYKES assisted the client to change the design of their existing sales process from an unassisted website experience to an agent-assisted process with proactive chat.

The new business process design, including SYKES chat support solution, increased sales for triple-play by 50% in 8 months. Reaching this level of success included market and product training for agents with daily reviewing of customer situation and “close the sale scripting.” It is also important to review proactive chat acceptance rates and reconfigure processes as needed as you ramp up the program.