Boost Utilization with Proactive Chat

I am doing a webcast next week with our partner, LivePerson, entitled “Can Your Support Center Afford Not to Be Proactive about Chat?” Web chat is always a popular topic with SSPA members, and something I’ve written about before.  Adoption of Web collaboration and Web chat technology has risen in the last couple of years (and I’ll share that data, including a preview of 2009 numbers, on the webcast).  However, though many members use desktop sharing and remote control, Web chat remains a minor channel, with only 1% of current incidents opened via chat.  

Web chat has some unique characteristics that make a good medium for support–as long as the problems aren’t too deeply technical.  For example, a chat request captures the context of where the customer is when they ask a question, it keeps customers in their channel of preference (the Web), and it lends itself to multi-tasking for both customers and agents. One of the issues I hear from members is that channel preference surveys often show chat as unpopular, and I will talk about why these surveys are misleading.

I went through 2+ years of member inquiries and compiled a list of the top FAQs about Web chat, which I will briefly address on the webcast:

  1. Does chat work for technical support?
  2. How do I staff for a chat launch?
  3. How many chat sessions should an agent manage?
  4. How does training for chat differ from phone?
  5. Is chat a good option for outsourcing/ offshoring?
  6. How do chat costs compare with email and phone?

The focus of this webcast is proactive support, i.e., proactively prompting customers who are on your self-service website to ask if they need assistance. This is such a risk-free way to introduce Web chat to your support environment. As few or as many customers can be prompted to chat as you like, and companies use this technology to:

  • Reach out to high value or premiere customers proactively.  The rule engine in the chat platform let you define the profiles for proactive chat, so you can target your Premium customers only if you wish.
  • Step in to assist customers struggling with self-service.  If a customer has been on your self-service site for 30 minutes, why not proactively ask them if they need help?  It can go a long way towards increasing satisfaction.
  • Ensure 100% utilization of staff.  This is a big one, because you can only offer Web chat or proactive chat when you have agents or TSEs available.  As soon as the phones stop ringing, you can automatically start opening up the chat channel to leverage available resources.  And when phone volume picks up again, the chat option disappears.

Whether you currently use Web chat and want to learn how to get the most of the channel, or you are interested in launching a chat pilot this year, I hope you will tune in for the webcast.  If you have any questions you want answered during the webcast, go ahead and send them to me now and I’ll add them to the queue.  Thanks for reading, and see you online next week!

Explore posts in the same categories: Consumer Support, Technology

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2 Comments on “Boost Utilization with Proactive Chat”


  1. Hi John:

    Knowing all too well that the best support staff matched with the best technology will only be successful if consumer expectations are met or exceeded; I thought your readers might be interested in seeing the results of a survey we completed with GetHuman.com that polled close to 1000 consumers of all ages on what they expected when getting chat and email support. I have provided access to the survey that does not require registration at http://www.fuzeqna.com/fuzeds/consumer/kbdetail.asp?kbid=972 .

  2. jragsdale Says:

    Chuck;
    Wow! Thanks for posting. There is some really interesting data in there. I’ve been asked about customer expectations for chat response times and have not seen a survey on it before.

    To compare/contrast, here’s a link to some survey results I worked on with Lithium a couple of years ago that overlaps a bit. Sorry–registration is required: http://www.thesspa.com/whitepaper_download_v2/whitepapers_form.asp?p=Lithium_SSPA_WhitePaper


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