Web chat has become a popular way for customers to contacts businesses, especially among the 18-34 age range. However, it is not without challenges for contact centres as web chat interaction can take twice as long as a call and can turn into a significant cost.

We give you five essential tips on how to make web chat a success and a worthwhile investment.

1. First things first, you need a clear strategy

Without setting goals, you won’t be able to allocate the right resources, measure the results of your new communication channel or make it useful to your customers. You would only be likely to see an increase in contact volumes (and therefore of costs), without necessarily seeing a higher conversion rate.

2. Don’t recruit dedicated web chat agents

Recruiting staff solely allocated to web chat will result in chronic underutilisation. It is best to hire multi-skills agents, incorporate web chat into their training, and most importantly, make sure that you support them adequately with the technology that allows them to hop from one channel to another easily and smoothly.

3. Make sure that your web chat has a consistent ‘voice’

Emailing and calls can make it easier to keep to the company’s ‘voice’, with the use of scripts and libraries of standard responses. It seems to be more difficult to be consistent in web chats, and it will be crucial to make sure that your staff is clear about the ‘party line’ and policies.

4. Be proactive and initiate web chats

Web chat software are very sophisticated and can provide a vast amount of information about customers browsing your website, even before direct contact has been made, such as what they have been looking at and how long they have been on your site for. It gives agents the perfect opportunity to initiate a web chat with a personalised invitation.

5. Follow web chat with a post-chat questionnaire

A post-chat questionnaire will give you invaluable feedback about your performance and will enable you to fine-tune the service, so make sure that it is always emailed to customers after a web chat.

Consumers want their questions answered and problems solved quickly and live chat can be a great medium to utilise to fulfil this. Web chat however is more expensive to run than other communication channels, so it is important to use it only when it is really needed, such as for complex interactions and one-to-one customer support.