With your online sales agents newly established as the public face of your business, just how well placed are they to meet the demands of the job? UK customers tend to expect the highest levels of customer service in Europe and they are among the most impatient. Thanks to chat solutions, companies can now give their customers fast, efficient, and more personal online support. Who knew Chat Agent rhymed with Brand Ambassador?
You have a website to capture the lucrative online market. You recently installed an online chat facility to stop people abandoning their baskets as soon as they encounter a problem. But with your online sales agents newly established as the public face of your business, just how well placed are they to meet the demands of the job?
Research has shown just how demanding it can be*. UK customers tend to expect the highest levels of customer service in Europe and they are among the most impatient. Indeed the speed at which businesses respond to customer issues can make the difference between a satisfied customer and one who tells their friends about a bad experience.
When online experts consider this problem, they think in terms of AHT, or average handling time. Most chat agents will be able to handle several conversations at once, with more experienced people handling as many as six conversations at the same time. Should you expect them to handle too many, your average handling time will increase.
Known as the FRT, or first response time, this governs the time that your customer should have to wait until they get a response to their first enquiry. Agents should aim for a FRT of just 15 seconds, a terrifying short space of time. This means agents should handle their existing conversations while making sure that new queries are being answered very, very quickly.
Once the chat has been initiated with both sides connected, the general rule of thumb is that agents should respond to chats within 45 seconds after a message has been sent. This is only a benchmark figure and you should try to reduce this figure as much as you can to avoid the customer waiting or assuming that they have been disconnected. A customer who feels that they have been kept waiting or disconnected will drop their notional basket and walk away.
Building a relationship with someone identified only by a first name may be difficult, but there are ways you can start to build some brand loyalty. Think about making discount vouchers available to online shoppers through the chat facility, which will help with the decision making process. If agents can additionally make carefully selected special offers available, they can help guide a customer’s purchasing decision.
More importantly, as the agent will be able to see what is in the customer’s basket, they can recommend and send links to other products that are related to them. These could be better products, ones that the agent thinks may be more suitable or things that may compliment them. If you use the right software package, these elements can remain visible for the visitor throughout the chat conversation in a separate window.
These are all large-scale solutions, but there are things that your agents can do on a micro level to make their lives easier and improve both first and average response times. Reminding them that they need to be both alert and proactive is obvious, but they should also have access to a word completion tool so that they do not have to laboriously tap out each word. In addition, there should be a library of pre-prepared answers, accessible through the software so that the agent can quickly and easily answer the most frequently asked questions.
How you train agents will depend on the exact nature of your business. Many companies, across various sectors, have reported customer satisfaction rates of around 90% for online visitors who chat. This demonstrates that agent training is not only satisfactory but helps to extend the brand far beyond its original boundaries. By doing their job with zeal and enthusiasm, your operators could well become your best brand ambassadors.
* Omnichannel Customer Service Gap, Loudhouse, November 2013
This post originally appeared on Contact Centre News.