According to the CCW Digital Market Study on the Future of the Contact Center, improving digital capabilities represents a top priority for 2019. Embracing the reality of the omnichannel revolution, organizations plan to deliver more meaningful experiences in channels like live chat.
The effort to improve capabilities involves increasing accountability.
If live chat is to be a meaningful engagement channel – and not merely a “bonus” offering – it needs to meet performance standards. It needs to deliver the experience customers seek as well as the results organizations desire.
By leveraging the ideal blend of metrics, organizations can hold their live chat program accountable for performance. They, moreover, will gain substantive insight into how chat can become a more impactful component of the customer experience journey.
Conventional "call center" metrics
To emphasize that live chat is as “legitimate” as the voice channel, it is imperative to hold chat accountable for the same core metrics.
These metrics include wait time, transfer rate, accuracy, first contact resolution, abandonment, and customer satisfaction.
Even if the organization makes the conscious decision to only use live chat for specific sales or transactional purposes, the aforementioned “call center” metrics are essential for evaluating the success of the endeavor. They, moreover, are the key to managing workflows and processes.
A fundamental advantage of live chat is support for concurrent communication. Whereas agents can only handle one live telephone call at a time, they can handle multiple chats. As a result, customers should theoretically endure shorter wait times, while agents should be able to perform more productively.
The concurrency advantage does, however, create a risk. Hoping to capitalize on the benefit, some organizations may drive agents to simultaneously juggle too many chats. When extended too thin, the agent will deliver slower, less personal, less valuable communication.
By measuring the average rate of agent concurrence, the organization can ensure agents are handling the optimal number of conversations.
Four forms of escalation
With any contact channel, it is important to understand how many interactions require escalation. It takes more than “escalation rate,” however, to assess the health of the live chat initiative.
A customer-centric organization will instead consider four distinct forms of escalation:
- Interactions that require escalation for legal or regulatory reasons.
- Interactions that require escalations because chat agents are not in position to resolve the issue.
- Chat-friendly interactions the agent technically could solve but chooses to escalate.
- Chat-friendly interactions the customer chooses to escalate.
Each form of escalation reveals a different opportunity for improvement.
Although legal-driven escalations may be impossible to avoid, it behooves an organization to consider whether it can introduce additional security measures to its chat framework.
Process-driven escalations reveal that the organization is not truly treating live chat as a full-fledged engagement channel. Knowing that customers obviously want to use live chat, organizations should consider empowering agents to handle more complex tasks.
Agent-driven escalations reflect systemic issues with training or workflow; customer-driven escalations reveal the need to improve the quality of conversations.
Chat acceptance rate
Whether evaluating an inbound or outbound chat strategy, it is imperative to consider acceptance rates.
For inbound chats, a customer-centric organization will consider the percentage of conversations it was able to accept. How frequently do customers receive a “no agent available” message? Low availability reflects the need to rethink staffing as well as the use of automation and bots.
For outbound chats, a winning organization will consider the percentage of invitations customers accept. Low acceptance rates will reveal some combination of poor messaging, incorrect placement within the customer journey, or a customer aversion to chat conversations.
Agent and customer effort
Due to its convenience, alignment with the demand for digital, and “native” placement within user journeys, chat theoretically should lead to an easier customer experience.
To ensure it is delivering on that expectation, customer-centric organizations will pay careful attention to effort level. They will consider the ease with which customers can access live chat, the amount of qualification and authentication at the start of the chat, the amount Of questions it takes to achieve a resolution, and the process by which customers can switch to another channel.