Report

CCW Special Report: Live Chat

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Chapter 4

Considering the Agents

It may be a “digital” form of engagement, but live chat is certainly not a nctouch endeavor. Agents drive conversations, and thus the success of the endeavor.

As a result, customer-centric organizations commit to empowering live chat agents. They consider ways to optimize every facet of the workflow experience.

Then, and only then, will chat live up to its promise of combining the deep engagement of the voice channel with the convenience of the digital world.

Provide context for each customer, interaction

In order to deliver a chat interaction that is simultaneously personalized and efficient, agents require meaningful context about each customer and issue. As they begin the conversation, they need clear insight into who is chatting, why they are chatting, and how best to resolve the issue.

Providing this actionable context begins with robust platform integration. The live chat platform should seamlessly connect to contact center tools, including the CRM, knowledge base and call queue. An agent should never have to leave the screen—let alone the entire chat platform—to gain relevant data about the customer.

We've partnered with our IT folks to to say, here's the data about that customer thet really might help us be able to create e great interaction," explains Laurie Simpter of Pier 1 Imports. "We're able to see sales information across all channels, customer's purchase history, we can see every channel of contact where they have reached out to us and the history of that. So we have a lot of information at our fingertips and it is continuing to evolve how we train and how we use that information in our interaction with the customer.

Laurie Simpter
Sr. Manager of Customer Relations , Pier 1 Imports

We have to very deeply understand our customers and the emotional context in which they come to us for something, and make sure that we're being really appropriate in that space," adds Heidi Munc Of Nationwide.

Heidi Munc
Associate Vice President, Nationwide

Use automation to augment conversations

Chat may involve live, real-time conversations, but it does not necessarily require agents to Start from scratch. Thanks to the combination of careful scripting and powerful artificial intelligence, the optimal chat program guides agents with recommended—if not completely automated—comments, answers and follow-up questions. Agents car take advantage of this automation to improve productivity. while maintaining five autonomy to deliver a unique, human touch when appropriate.

The ideal agent desktop) offers real-time intelligent support for agents included guided engagement. recommended replies, knowledge articles and next best actions," says Flynn-Ripley. Tis willl make chat even more productive and successful.

Meredith Flynn-Ripley
VP, Digital Engagement, Salesforce

Leverage robust, chat-specific analytics

Just as live chat requires its own set of metrics, it also benefits from channel-specific analytics.

Given that many organizations deploy chat for specific purposes (to improve website sales. to handle certain service transactions, to answer technical support issues in a native platform), such analytics provide a clear glimpse into the efficacy of the program. Is the chat program delivering the ideal ROI? Which aspects of the chat strategy are inhibiting the organization’s ability to achieve its objective?

More broadty. detailed anatytics help organizations diagnose performance issues, improve scripts, rework processes and optimize coaching.

Provide relevant, digital-minded coaching

Like voice agents, live chat agents are ultimately trying to make meaningful connections with customers.

The rnechanism for making that connection is nonetheless quite different. There are certain performance goals and conversational approaches that are unique to the live chat environment.

Winning organizations account for this reality when hiring, training and coaching agents. They do not simply place -contact center agents” on “live chat duty”—they specifically prepare agents to thrive in that chat environment.

The reed for specific guidance is not, however, tantamount to a need for inefficient coaching. using analytics. winning organizations are precise with their coaching—they teach specific agents how they can specifically improve. using technology, they seize opportunities for automated training or live supervisor takeovers.

Our best agents are asking. 'how dc we get better,'" shares Arnold. -The way to do that is to let them share [with] each other. We can use [an analytics tool] to extract best practices ane be able to apply them across the platform. I can then hold them accountable for your entire population, you can go back and see, 'is everyone using that best practice?" You can then do coaching to Oe able to improve and make [agents] be able to deliver exactly what customers want.

Jeff Arnold
Sales Chat Operations Consultant, Verizon

Efficient workflow management

Presuming the organization is not dismissing chats as one-off, isolated transactions, a live chat program will require some degree of post-interaction wrap-up. Agents will need to log certain aspects of the interaction to cultivate intelligence about the specific customer and issue.

This should not be an inefficient endeavor. Winning organizations automate as rna ny aspects of the post-chat process as possible. Through proper training, they also help agents efficiently handle any tasks that do require mar val work.

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