As most CX professionals would have expected, it has been an incredibly busy year for most live chat teams since the emergence of Covid-19. Overall, organizations faced a 23% increase in the average number of chats per month April through August compared to January through March. While a portion of this rise can be attributed to the confusion and question generating nature of Covid-19, a key cause was a shift away from phone.
As organizations struggled to cope with an unpredictable and rapid rise in call volumes, many looked toward the scalability and efficiency of live chat to help manage the influx. While only one phone call can be taken at a time, experienced agents can manage several live chats simultaneously. Our customers took advantage of integrated tools like canned messaging, AI-powered Agent Assist, and chatbots to reduce queue length and time to resolution
When governments began encouraging and even forcing organizations to work from home, this posed another challenge for more traditional, centralized contact centers that could not easily transfer to remote working environments. In contrast, web, desktop and mobile apps helped live chat teams to quickly and easily relocate from office to home with nothing more than a computer and internet connection. As a result, many organizations quickly moved in part or entirely from phone to live chat to ensure they could continue providing a high-level of customer support.
The most notable increase in average monthly chats occurred in teams of 26+ agents which had to manage a 94% increase. Although we expect this figure to gradually drop across every team size, it still highlights the importance of refining scheduling and staffing decisions to make sure that workload is evenly spread – as much as to care for team morale as to provide fast support to customers.
The only exception to an increase in chat volume can be seen in teams of 1-5 agents whose average monthly chat figures dropped by 20%. This may well reflect the harder impact that Covid-19 had on small businesses that were forced to reduce staff numbers or didn’t have the cashflow to stay open at all. The Washington Post reported that an estimated 100,000 small businesses in the US alone had already closed their doors by May. For smaller organizations that were able to keep their doors open, there was a strong likelihood that they reduced their chat coverage or even turned chat off so they could focus their resources on other parts of their operations.