Blog

Staffing Chat Support

November 16, 2011 Amit Kachhawa

Without a doubt, the most talked about and controversial question surrounding a chat support team is, “How does one staff a chat support team?” Another essential question that often comes to mind is, “Do I need to hire dedicated agents, or can agents that handle calls and emails answer chats?” This short article will help you with that.

We have observed from our experience that agents handling chat interactions should be devoted and should not be juggling with other media channels. We have observed that agents who only handle chats have higher productivity and better customer satisfaction scores than a blended agent.

Staffing appropriately is a result of having the right agents in the right areas. Skills required for a web chat agent are different than the skills used by the agent handling phone calls. Web chat agents should have the ability to multi-task and they must possess excellent typing skills. They should be able to focus under pressure and have ability to keep track of multiple conversations at once. In addition to that, we must also consider that resolving issues over chat takes a longer time than it does over the phone. This increases the overall handling time of the agent, which should also be considered while looking at hiring staff members.

Agents that handle multiple chat sessions concurrently increase productivity. However, it may not be advisable for all verticals. The industry standard is to limit three concurrent sessions to ensure great customer experiences. Ability to keep a track of more than one customer at a time is not a skill that everyone possesses. This is something that should be attempted by the seasoned and experienced agents. Newer agents shouldn’t undertake the task until they feel comfortable attempting an additional chat session. In a high volume, low-complexity environment (such as airline reservation or retail) agents can handle more than three concurrent chat interactions. Whereas, for technology support, it should be limited to two chat interactions for a better customer experience and first contact resolution.

For companies managing web chat interaction, constant vigilance will always be required through reporting features and best practices.