Your customers want quality resolutions fast. When they enter your live chat queues, they have expectations about the length and quality of their wait that can make or break their customer experience. But according to the 2014 Global Customer Service Barometer by American Express, only six in ten customers feel that companies meet their service expectations.
The reality is, having to wait in long, disengaging queues will lead your visitors to abandon chats long before the point of resolution.
So what exactly are chat queues? Chat queues are what keep visitors in line to engage with the appropriate agents. Good queues keep agents from being overwhelmed with too many concurrent chats, as well as keep visitors from becoming frustrated and leaving your site prematurely.
This article will explore the best practices for queue management, which include:
- Striking a balance between customer wait time and internal resources
- Creating an effective balance between problem solving and upselling
- Creating queues for different products and services
- Establishing queue priorities for different customers
- Keeping visitors informed about queue statuses
- Using canned messages to shorten queues
- Using expert agents effectively
- Optimizing your staff scheduling with reports and metrics
We hope that this article can serve as a guide to help your team obtain organized queues that lead to shorter wait times, faster resolutions times, and greater overall customer satisfaction.
Strike a Balance Between Customer Wait Time and Internal Resources
One of the most fundamental components of great live chat queue management is making sure that you strike an adequate balance between customer wait time and your own internal resources.
In order to decrease your wait time you may need to increase your internal resources. The more resources you have to handle your chat volume, the shorter your wait times will be overall. However, if agents are idling due to light workloads, you may choose to reduce or reallocate internal resources to cut operational costs. Another way to strike this balance is by continuously training agents—this can help you to improve operational efficiency, and ultimately enable you decrease wait times without increasing internal resources.
It’s a challenge to balance answering your customers’ chat requests efficiently with managing the internal resources at your disposal. However, if you make proper adjustments and set specific goals for your team, you will be much more likely to succeed in lowering wait times.
Create an Effective Balance Between Problem Solving and Upselling
It’s a common live chat practice for support agents to conduct some sales activities. If this is the case for your organization, it’s important to recognize that spending a disproportionate amount of time on one chat keeps your other visitors waiting longer in queue. One of the best ways to address this issue is to know how to strike a balance between problem solving and upselling, as sales activities take additional time and increase queue lengths. The way to address this problem is to prioritize support questions first. After support issues are taken care of, it’s management’s responsibility to decide how much upselling agents should be doing and when.
Create Queues for Different Products and Services
Your visitors may ask a range of questions regarding your different products and services. This can create a need to have your agents specialize further in product knowledge. But if you have a large team, it may not be possible or practical to cross-train agents on all of your products in an in-depth manner.
One of the simplest ways to address this issue is to create different queues for different products and services. This way you can direct visitors to the properly trained agent. Ultimately, this helps you limit the costs and scope of training. When considering which products to create queues for, consider which ones customers need the most support with, or which ones you would like to give biggest sales push.
Establish Queue Priorities for Different Customers
Creating effective queues can depend on your ability to enable priorities that address the immediacy of certain visitors’ needs. With an effective live chat application, you can assign specific priorities to create opportunities for those particular visitors who need to be served first.
Consider creating queues based off of these rules:
- Spending History
According to the Harvard Business Review, retention is anywhere from five to 25 times cheaper than customer acquisition. You may want to give customers who have high spending histories with your company greater priority.
- Shopping Cart Value
If a visitor already has a high value in their shopping cart, you may want to increase his priority in the queue in order to increase the likelihood of sales.
- Membership Level
Certain customers have paid for increased support, and should be served by your live chat agents in a swift and effective manner.
Additionally, you can create distinct queues for different level customers. Higher value customers receive higher priority; this focuses your support and sales efforts on customers that bring in greater revenue. Check to see if your live chat application provides an immediate function, which will allow select visitors to jump to the front of the queue. To get the most out of these features, managers should keep track of results and continue to optimize priority rules.
- Spending History
Keep Visitors Informed About Queue Status
Knowledge is power, and visitors would rather know how long they have to wait in order to make empowered decisions. For this reason, you should let your customers know exactly what to expect when waiting in a queue. In making this information visible in the chat window, you give visitors the option to wait or to choose alternative options that will best fit their needs, ultimately lowering chat abandonment rates.
You can also use this tactic as a means to display additional industry or company information. This allows you to do a number of things, including:
- Extend your marketing presence
- Keep your visitors occupied
- Warm up your leads with product and feature specific information
- Address frequently asked questions
Use your live chat provider’s advanced queue features to create a message that will display how many people are waiting in the queue before your visitor, as well as an estimated wait time. Additionally, give visitors the option to leave a message or to receive a call back. Doing so will ultimately keep them from abandoning chat, which could drastically affect customer satisfaction.
Use Canned Messages to Shorten Queues
In order to keep your queues short, it’s important to identify ways to reduce handle time and to increase your agents’ overall concurrent chat limits.
To reduce overall handle times, you should consider using canned messages. Canned messages can be used for common scenarios, frequently asked questions, or greetings and salutations. This shortens queue lengths and overall enhances the queue experience for your visitors.
Read our article: 8 Canned Messages Best Practices for Live Chat Excellence for more information.
Use Your Expert Agents Effectively
Your expert agents are the ones with the most experience, product knowledge, and demonstrated excellence. These are your superstar agents—the ones who know how to handle nearly every issue thrown their way. For this reason, they often have advanced permissions and authority that allow them to resolve even the most complex issues.
These agents are exceedingly valuable resources to your company. This is particularly true if they have gained this experience and knowledge internally—these kinds of agents are precious to any organization because of their specific knowledge of product and business operations. As a result, their expertise should not be wasted on basic or entry-level support issues.
To use their talents effectively, these agents should only accept transferred and escalated chats; by setting such parameters, you will ensure that the best agents are handling the toughest chats. This will enhance your resource allocation and keep your operational costs low.
Optimize Your Staff Scheduling with Reports and Metrics
In order to have the best possible queue, it’s critical to keep track of relevant metrics. This empowers you to create effective staffing schedules for your agents. Tracking queue metrics will help you take into account which agents will do best at which times intervals, as well as how many agents you need to keep queue wait times low.
When you carefully study your live chat metrics, you will find that chat volumes vary at different intervals. For example, you may find that Sunday morning from 8-10 AM consistently has a much higher chat request level that Tuesday morning at 8-10 AM, or vice versa. Noticing patterns in your metrics can enable you to understand your team’s exact scheduling needs.
To optimize your staff schedule, use your live chat provider’s reporting feature, and keep track of both short-term and long-term metrics. Whether you study these metrics site-wide or by department, you can begin to see trends that will help you understand at what points your queue wait times are consistently longest or shortest.
Your live chat queue is what can make or break a customer’s experience before he even gets to chat with an agent. It’s the first impression many visitors get of how you address their needs, and it’s important to show a professional and courteous front.
By using the best practices above, you can create queues that impress your visitors and encourage them to stay through to the point of resolution. Remember to monitor your results, and to continue optimizing your practices for the best possible outcome. This will give your agents the chance to shine, and to convert casual site visitors into loyal customers for life.