By creating a chat experience that emphasizes personalization, prioritizes the agent experience, adapts to customer preferences, mandates high interaction quality and protects data, you afford yourself an opportunity to disrupt the customer experience.
To actually seize the opportunity, you will need to take several additional actions. These actions will transform chat from a tremendously capable contact channel into a legitimately impactful one.
1. Develop a customer education roadmap
Today’s customers are very familiar with the concept of chat, but they are not necessarily aware of its viability as a comprehensive engagement channel. They may not recognize its potential to deliver a more intimate, more extensive service experience than the phone channel.
To ensure your chat program resonates, it is imperative to educate customers on its potential. Build access to chat — and information on what your chat channel offers — into key areas of the user experience journey. As customers learn how chat can help them and then actually experience its strengths, they will begin to make chat their default preference.
2. Set performance parameters
As modern chat is a full-stop contact channel, traditional metrics like CSAT, NPS and FCR very much apply. To ensure your chat strategy is making the best possible impact, you will nonetheless want to dive deeper.
You will want to evaluate how bot-driven engagements perform in comparison to human-led ones. You will want to account for the acceptance and conversion rates of your proactive chat messages. A nuanced performance view will also investigate how chat-specific options like co-browsing and video are impacting satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy.
Not simply about defining metrics, the performance management process also includes establishing workflow parameters: How many concurrent chats should an agent handle? What kind of events will warrant supervisor takeovers? Are there opportunities for real-time training modules?
3. Improve enterprise systems
When you are selecting a chat platform, you will naturally consider its ability to integrate with your existing contact center and enterprise systems. That is only half the battle.
The other, arguably more important concern involves optimizing those individual systems. Because the chat experience hinges on fast and sometimes wholly automated interactions, the integrity of the knowledge base and CRM tools carry paramount importance. If they do not offer quick access to accurate and consistent information, the experience will suffer.
4. Leverage data
Data is the contact center’s greatest export, and a robust chat experience will offer access to a plethora of new customer intelligence. To make the most of your chat strategy, ensure you are leveraging this data as a meaningful part of the overall business analytics strategy. By blending data from chat and other touch points, you can optimize the customer experience design and make more astute overall business decisions.
5. Consider partnerships
The technology will take center stage during your vendor selection but do not ignore the broader partnership. Certain providers are uniquely capable of tailoring the rollout to your business and then providing relevant training, unique customizations and expert advice upon implementation.
In addition to vetting the chat vendor with whom you partner, consider how your chat platform and strategy interact with those of any outside partners. If you rely on third parties like outsourcers to handle some of your interactions, you need to know whether they can seamlessly integrate with your infrastructure and precisely mirror your vision for a great chat experience.
6. Create a continuity plan
Disrupting chat is not merely about selecting the right technology; it is about leveraging capable technology to build a more customer-centric experience. Since the parameters for that experience will change as customer demands and behaviors change, you will need an effective continuity plan to ensure you can stay ahead of the curve. Do not mistake chat for a one-time initiative.
A customer-centric continuity plan will account for changes in voice of the customer insights, updates to agent training and coaching strategies, support for new contact channels, recalibration of metrics, renewal of business goals, compliance with new regulations and adjustments to the journey map.