I don't think online chat is the best way to communicate. In fact, it's probably the worst. So it may surprise you to hear that we've been considering adding chat support to our lineup of support options at Grasshopper.
Why do I think chat sucks?
For one thing, you never really know if the other person is still there, if they're AFK (that's chatspeak for away from keyboard) or if they've fallen off the face of the planet (that'd be FOTFOTP).
Still, I'm convinced that there are great uses for it. For example, asking quick pre-sales questions when you've got laryngitis. That's why I go out of my way to try other company's chat support. I'm looking for the company that's finally found a way to make it work.
I'm told that chat is great because it's instantaneous and convenient. Well, if that's true, why do I always feel like I'm waiting for the service rep on the other end to finish their 15 other chats before they finally get back to me? And why does it seem to take forever to finally get across the nature of my issue? I'm always wondering did they really get what my issue was or are they now just too embarrassed to ask me the 5th time around for further clarification.
But I'm like most people, when I have a problem, I'll go for chat if I think that I'll end up on hold for a long time when I call. Unfortunately, I often find that I'm instantly chatting with a lower tier of service staffed by agents with the least experience. I've had more than one chat session end by the agent asking me to call instead because they don't have the ability to help me. That was a real time saver.
So what's a good solution for offering chat support that doesn't suck? As far as I know, It doesn't exist yet, but here's my dos and don'ts:
Do have a click to call button directly on the chat window that allows someone to simply call whoever they are chatting with. Instead of telling me to call in and then start all over explaining myself to a new agent, let us pick up where chat fell short and solve this issue quickly.
Don't force service reps to cover multiple chat sessions. It's okay to take on another client when I'm not responding. It's only fair. But when you're chatting with, say, 10 clients simultaneously, you're making no one happy.
Don't use chat as the training ground for support staff. Unlike the phone, you can't immediately sense a client's mood or assess their tone of voice. You need knowledgeable people staffing the chat so they can read between the lines.
Do you have any tips on how to make chat support better?