Using live-chat well: a case example and some do’s and don’ts

Mark Satov
Owner, SATOV Consultants Inc

After a lovely Passover Seder at my Mom’s house, my wife and I decided to send some flowers to thank her and otherwise brighten her day. I volunteered to handle the transaction (nice son and husband, I know!)

I don’t have a regular florist and am between EA’s at the moment, so I did a quick web search, challenging myself to get this done in less than 10 minutes. To my surprise and delight I beat that time significantly and enjoyed the process, mostly because of a proper use of the chat function by Local Blossom.

I had logged onto their site and was scrolling through some options and almost feeling overwhelmed when a chat window came up. I was wondering if the response to my query would be as slow as is often the case but Sam’s reply was immediate. She gave me a few directed questions to get me to my budget, delivery preferences and other details. I didn’t want to provide my cc number over chat so Sam agreed to call me and get that verbally. We did confirm the other details by chat as it had less risk of error and no perceived security risk and they followed up with a confirmation email.

I write and speak a lot about when and how to use electronic channels and other technology. This player got it right for a few reasons:

    1. They staff the e-channel appropriately.
      Too often you see service centers trying to take costs out using chat, and then messing it up by forcing their agents to multi-chat. They think they are making them more efficient, but the truth is that customer responses are fast and they always know when they aren’t the only ones being served. Sam was focused on me and started typing about a second after I sent each message.
    2. They train their agents well.
      Sam could tell that I didn’t want to pick from a vast array of arrangements. I said my mom likes purple and white and she said she can send something nice for my budget. She had a script but was not a robot. She was quick but not abrupt. We do a lot of work in call centers and the good ones recognize that while scripting is part of the answer; you have to use role-play type training and quality control sampling to ensure the agents know how to make customers happy.
    3. They recognize customer channel preferences.
      I was fine to type my email address and card message for accuracy but Sam was ready to call me to get my cc details. There are many reasons why a voice at the other end of the line makes sense for certain transactions or transaction parts. Companies that don’t provide their customers enough channel choice are missing the boat. Remember that there is always money to take out of transaction costs but if they destroy the customer experience they are all for nought.

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