Understanding How To Deploy Chat Internationally Offers Insight About Multi-Language Considerations At Home

Many eBusiness professionals -- inspired by the business results they have seen at home with chat including call deflection, increased conversion, and enhanced customer satisfaction -- are expanding chat into their international Web sites.

While the elements of a successful chat transcend borders, the components to a successful international deployment can be complex. eBusiness professionals must consider their international markets, their international readiness, and what localization will be required to be successful. To assist in meeting these challenges, we published a document today called, "Taking Chat International: Paving The Way To Success Through Effective Localization."

One of the more complex challenges is managing translation. Some of the key questions include:

  • Should you hire native speakers or translate during chat sessions? Hiring native speakers is ideal, but not always practical. Alternatives include training chat reps to identify variations in spelling, grammar or vocabulary between different audiences or using translation technology.
  • What will be needed from technology to support multi-language agents? Key considerations include what it will mean to business processes when an agent supports chat sessions coming in from different languages, the impact if agents will need to search for answers in one language and push answers to consumers in another, and the impact of multiple languages on your maintaining an accurate knowledge base.
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Using Net Promoter Scores To Inform Customer Service Strategy

The pro of Net Promoter Score (NPS) is that it is simple. The con is it’s too simple. But is that too simple a con?

For those of you not familiar with NPS, it is a feedback measurement that examines how customers view your company. Most commonly, NPS asks: "How likely is it that you would recommend [organization X] to a friend or colleague?" Respondents are asked to answer this question on scale from 0 (not at all likely) to 10 (extremely likely). Customers are classified as either promoters (answered 9 or 10), passives (answered 7 or 8), or detractors (answered 6 or less). The NPS is calculated by subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters.

Suhail Khan, vice president and head of customer experience at Philips, has written a Harvard Business Review blog post outlining how Philips uses Net Promoter Scores to understand customers. It began using Net Promoter Scores during an initial pilot in late 2006 and has since embraced the tool to try to become an "outside-in, customer-focused organization." One of the points Mr. Khan makes is how NPS impacts Philips’ customer service strategy, including driving the decision to extend the company’s customer care center to weekends. 

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Reinforcing Your Brand Through Chat

I recently had a chat interaction with a financial services company that ended with the rep signing off with a smiley face emoticon. For a split second, I wondered if the person helping me sort through my financial accounts  dotted her "i"s with a happy face and had a favorite Jonas brother.

The chat session was helpful and I’m sure the happy face emoticon was a well-intentioned sign-off, but the interaction reminded me that an obvious brand inconsistency may not be obvious to everyone who represents your brand.

Communicating via chat is very different from the telephone. There is no customer voice tone to gauge mood. It’s more difficult to inject humor or small talk. The channel lends itself to informality that may not be appropriate.

The right brand voice is not always self-evident. Best-in-class companies train their chat agents to connect with customers with the right tone for the brand. I spoke recently with a financial services client who described that a key part of chat rep training is to help reps detect and match the level of formality in their customers’ tones. Similarly, Virgin Media provides training to its reps on the how to inject elements of the casual fun that are part of Virgin Media’s cheeky brand voice.

Reinforcing your brand through chat doesn’t just happen. But it can happen when finding your brand voice is a part of chat agent training.

Two Simple Call Deflection Tactics

Call deflection is among the most frequent conversations I have with clients. As I’ve said many times, call deflection is not call avoidance. Rather than ducking customers' inquiries, successful call deflection will save potentially millions of dollars in contact center costs and boost satisfaction among consumers who prefer to be self-reliant.

I’ve recently come across two examples of simple and effective call deflection tactics that I wanted to share.

Guide customers to the channel you’d like them to select. Overstock does this extremely well. Here is a screen shot from Overstock’s Contact Customer Care page. The online retailer offers chat, email and telephone care. Chat is offered first in the list. Consumers are enticed by benefits of Overstock's “fast and friendly” chat — it is “the most popular option and the quickest way to get service.” Further, Overstock provides the wait time for chat — in this case, less than five seconds — delivering on the promise of fast. With this information, consumers will not feel herded: They will feel guided.

Put self-service content on your Contact Us page. Some customers will skip self-service and go directly to Contact Us. Consider putting self-service options in their path. eBay does this effectively. While consumers can easily click through to contact the company, there is a variety of self-service options available for those consumers who — when it’s put in their path — may find what they want in self-service and no longer require live assistance.

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