The word "chat" has changed its definition over the years as the internet became an integral part of our everyday lives. Today, when people say, "lets chat about it," it is highly probable that they mean: let's chat on Facebook, Google, Skype or MSN. What is so appealing in using online chat rather than sending an email or talking over the phone? If you have ever used online (or live) chat before, I’m sure you know the answer. With online chat, you have the ability to convey a message briefly, yet very clearly, and unlike an email message—you get an immediate response.
That is why chat is a great tool to utilize when you are providing technical support.
As a customer relations expert in SysAid, I can say that using chat is one of the most effective means of communication with your users. If you are managing a help desk and your performance is being measured by the number of tickets you open and close, you would most definitely find that using a chat console to take questions from your users and answering them on the spot, will dramatically reduce the number of tickets you get.
Here are a few best practices I can give you from my experience, if you would like to incorporate chat in your helpdesk or IT department:
1. Find a chat console that is easy to use and will give the user a nice, smooth experience. If you already use SysAid as your help desk software, then live online chat is completely integrated with the rest of SysAid
2. Place a link to the chat on your web site's homepage, making sure that it is visible immediately when someone clicks on the page. There is a trend now to have chat consoles "pop up" as you enter the site—something more common when they are trying to sell something. Although I'm no expert in marketing, I must say that I'm not a big fan of this approach when it comes to providing support.
3. Take the time to research your help desk, and look for simple recurring issues for which you can write a brief and clear set of instructions. You can then use these scripts to provide a swift answer when a question comes up, and save valuable time.
4. When you are using a pre-written script, always remember to write the first few sentences yourself, on the fly, to give the reply a personal touch, and only then paste the instructions.
5. In my personal opinion, try to avoid scripts that provide auto-responses based on words the end user or customer is using in his/her chat question. More often than not, these auto-responses don't help with the real problem. People like to communicate with people, so make sure you have someone consistently holding a chat shift. It may seem time-consuming, but I assure you that it is worth it.
6. If your chat console allows it, add a picture of the representative to his/her greeting message. Attaching a face to the person on the other side is always a more pleasant experience.
If you implement your new chat room correctly, you will see that the amount of phone calls you get is going to be dramatically reduced as well as the number of tickets you are handling daily. If your users have a good service experience, they will always prefer the chat over picking up the phone. I can tell you that when I personally am looking for support on any website, a chat is the first thing I'm going to look for. Even the bank that I'm working with picked up on the concept and started to implement a chat service. And I'll tell you this—I'm using their services a lot more than I use to, simply because it is faster, and a lot more accessible.
Another upside to chat is that one chat representative can usually take care of more than one chat session at the same time, unlike a phone call where you can handle only one call at a time.
To sum it up, if you get a good tool to work with, and put in some time in researching and understanding your users and the way they come to you for support, you will find the key to providing them with a better and faster support experience.