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Live Chat Benchmark Report 2021

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Chapter 4

Chat duration

Average chat duration increased by 18% in 2020, rising from 9 minutes 17 seconds to 10 minutes 57 seconds. At first glance, this seems out of place – why wouldn’t team leads encourage shorter chats as a direct strategy to copy with the increase in chat volume, rather than achieve the opposite?

Firstly, this is partly due to the drop in chats per agents that we discussed in Chapter 2. Every team size experienced a decrease in the volume of chats per agent per month in 2020, which would mean that team leads wouldn’t be pressured to encourage shorter chat
duration.

However, the key reason behind this lies in the growing emphasis on customer experience. Over the past year we have increasingly seen managers shifting value away from time to resolution (and so shorter chat duration) in favor of developing relationships with customers, and allowing agents to take longer to resolve queries. This is not to say that time to resolution is not still highly valued, as it should be. Instead, these stats indicate that customer service managers are recognizing the need to balance speed with quality of service.

Time to resolution is still incredibly important. Sadly, it's also become a baseline expectation for support to be efficient. For those companies wanting to excel in their customer interactions, more is required. Micro-personalization can be used to quickly honor the customer as an individual, demonstrate that you understand their unique preferences, and ultimately earn their loyalty. We do this by effectively collecting and utilizing customer journey insights. It's also so important to learn more about what the customer's actual view of "success" is. Doing so allows us to act as a more competent guide for them towards this relevant goal. It prevents us from making assumptions about what matters to people in the experience, and designing things that are of low-value.

Nate Brown
CXO, Officium Labs

This is a strong indication that customer service managers are recognizing the importance of the customer experience. Over the past year we have increasingly seen managers shifting value away from time to resolution in favor of developing relationships with customers, and so allowing agents to take longer to resolve queries.

Teams of 26+ agents are the perfect example of the positive impact of valuing customer experience. From having the second lowest chat duration in 2019, this band shot up the leaderboard to have by far the longest chat duration of all team sizes in 2020 (balanced by having the lowest chat volume chat per agent of all team sizes). As a result of this strategy, they achieved by far the highest customer satisfaction rate of all team sizes at an impressive 89% – an 8.4% actual increase from 2019. More on customer satisfaction in the next chapter.

Effective chat agents add humanity to the service they provide. This means listening to customers and replying with genuine care and empathy. It's that human-centered service that makes chatting with a live agent a great experience. Agents should be encouraged to personalize canned responses. They should use friendly, informal language, and not be afraid to spice things up with an exclamation point or an emoji where appropriate. Even addressing the customer by name can have a comforting effect in the right moment.

Jeff Toister
Author, The Guaranteed Customer Experience

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