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Leverage the Power of Pre-Chat Survey: Tips and Best Practices

January 28th, 2016 | Anna Cheung | Live Chat | Blog Home
pre-chat survey best practices

Just like phone support, live chat enables your visitors and customers to contact you directly for support in real time. The Internet offers much more anonymity than other contact methods, but by no means lessens the need for information when providing support or answering inquiries. You may need to obtain basic contact, account or other information before you can assist your user or visitor.

Of course, you could ask your visitor for required information during the chat. However, this takes time and can slow down the sales or support process. In some cases, obtaining required information before the chat takes place is much easier and efficient.

This post discusses the best practices for utilizing pre-chat surveys to kick-start a meaningful conversation with your website visitors, and explores various types of data collection methods in order to obtain the most relevant information that could be used to enhance the overall customer experience.

What Is a Pre-Chat Survey?

A pre-chat survey is a custom online form which visitors complete before engaging in a live chat session with an operator. The primary use of pre-chat surveys is to collect personal and/or account information (i.e. full name, phone number, email address, etc.), and to identify the customer inquiry type in order to determine which operator or department to automatically route the chat to. Learn more about pre-chat survey

pre-chat survey

To Pre-Chat or Not to Pre-Chat

Pre-chat surveys serve to provide your operators with valuable visitor information in an effort to provide efficient and personalized customer experiences. But when you have other ways to identify who the visitor is before the chat starts, it is fair enough to skip the pre-chat survey. For example, if a customer is already logged into their personal account on your website, it is not appropriate to request for their personal and/or account information in a pre-chat survey. Instead, you can use custom variables to automatically read such information from your website or account system and make it available to your operators as needed.

What to Ask for

Literally, you can ask for any information you deem relevant or helpful. The most commonly asked information among our customers includes:

  • Name, email, phone – basic information to identify the visitor to personalize the service and to follow up later on
  • Department, inquiry type – further information you can use to have customers served by the most appropriate department or operator
  • Account #, order ID – account or order information that can help you quickly and thus shorten the case resolution time
  • Country, zip code – sometimes visitors are supposed to be served by different operators per their geographic location
You can always customize your own pre-chat survey based on your specific business scenarios, though.

Avoid the Scroll Bar

The rule of thumb is that visitors should never have to utilize a scroll bar in order to view all the fields included in your pre-chat survey window. Visitors may perceive the pre-chat survey form as too overwhelming or time consuming when a scroll bar is present; as a result, you may risk losing your visitors before a live chat session can even be initiated. If your pre-chat survey form resulted in a scroll bar, then it’s an indication that you’ve included too many fields, and it’s time to remove fields that are either extraneous or least important.

Make a Powerful First Impression

If you do choose to utilize a pre-chat survey, remember that this is the first window your visitors will see. As such, it’s important to ensure that your customers perceive a positive and professional image of your company.

You can easily customize the design of every aspect of your pre-chat window – banner, company logo, font, to name a few. More importantly, ensure that your pre-chat survey window complements the style, colors, and layout of your company website. The pre-chat survey window is an excellent opportunity to showcase and promote your company logo and motto when utilized to its maximum potential.

pre-chat-survey-sears

Pre-Chat Surveys as an Automated Switchboard

If your company has multiple departments (i.e. Technical Support, Sales, Billing, etc.), pre-chat survey is an excellent tool to connect visitors to the department best suited to handle their case.

You can define the scope of your departments in live chat, so that the pre-chat survey form can properly serve as an automated switchboard. For instance, you may opt to have your visitors select their inquiry type from a drop-down list in the pre-chat survey, and based on their selection, they will be routed to the most suited department to handle their inquiry or request. By doing so, you will increase the efficiency in connecting customers to the first available operator trained to handle their inquiry or request, thus improving your first contact resolution rate in the long run.

pre-chat survey department

Pre-Chat Surveys as a Data Gathering Tool

The pre-chat survey is effective in improving chat efficiency when utilized as a data gathering tool prior to connecting the visitor to a chat operator.

By collecting personal and/or account information (i.e. full name, case number, email address, phone number, etc.) via the pre-chat survey, you will improve your operators’ efficiency in addressing customer concerns, and researching for resolutions during the chat. As a result, when used as a data gathering tool, the pre-chat survey is also effective in minimizing chat durations, chat hold times, and chat queue wait times.

pre-chat survey data

Pre-Chat Surveys as a Personalization Tool

The pre-chat survey is an effective tool for inserting a human element and personalized touch to all customer interactions.

Rather than establishing robotic greetings, followed by generic questions like:

What is your name?

How may I help you today?

The information obtained from the pre-chat survey will enable your operators to establish an authentic human touch with personalized greetings like this:

Hi Kevin, my name is Anna, and I’d like to thank you for contacting us today. I understand you have billing questions, and it would be my pleasure to assist you with that right away.

By utilizing the information obtained from your pre-chat survey directly into your operators’ personalized greetings, it’s easier than ever to build instant rapport with your customers, thus improving customer satisfaction ratings, and fostering customer loyalty.

The Importance of Trial and Error

When deciding on whether or not to utilize a pre-chat survey, and what types of information to request for, we recommend that you first conduct a testing period for your assumptions.

First, initiate an A/B test by creating two different chat buttons.

Then, you can either route one of the chat buttons to a pre-chat survey, and the other leading straight to live chat session or create two distinctive pre-chat surveys, each consisting of fields that request for different types of personal and/or account information, and linking to a separate chat button.

Allow the testing period to run long enough so that you can adequately assess how the various pre-chat surveys and/or the lack of pre-chat surveys perform. Over time, you will see a pattern of click-through and chat abandonment rates that will provide you more perspective on how well or poorly your pre-chat surveys and/or lack of pre-chat surveys are performing.

If you’re finding that your visitors are prematurely abandoning your site and/or their live chat requests because your pre-chat surveys are requesting too much information, it may be time for some revisions so that your pre-chat surveys are sufficiently fulfilling their main purpose. Trial and error is imperative to the success of your pre-chat surveys.

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About 

Anna Cheung heads product marketing in Comm100. She spends most of her day in finding ways to have more people benefit from Comm100's products. In her spare time, she likes learning new things and sharing with others. Connect with Anna on LinkedIn.

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