Reinventing Contact Center Culture To Improve The Chat Experience

I once was told by a chat representative that “I've spent years having people yelling at me — chat is a nice change."

I’m often amazed at how elegantly contact center representatives can diffuse frustrated or angry customers, and I am not surprised that many of these employees reach a tipping point. But chat should not be the resting place for telephone-weary service representatives.

A contact center that provides an excellent customer experience is not created by accident. Kerry Bodine has recently published a document that discusses how call center culture can create an amazing customer experience, including abandoning metrics that encourage bad behavior by ditching those that don’t have a material influence on customer experience such as relieving agents from handle-time targets that focus on efficiency at the expense of customer experience.

This research is highly applicable to eBusiness professionals who offer live help via chat and manage contact centers directly or indirectly. It is tempting to get distracted by the online experience of chat and overlook the efforts that will improve the experience between an agent and a customer. Chat has the potential to be a meaningful customer experience. For insight into how this can be achieved, I encourage you to read “Elevate Chat From OK To Outstanding By Reinventing The Contact Center Culture.”


Chat is a major disappointment

I am a technologist who loves the idea of "instant" chat help. Who wouldn't?

I hate the phone tree - it seems that I always make a fatal error on those and have to hang up and dial in again at the back of the queue. Then I'm stuck on hold forever before reaching a support rep. PAINFUL.

Chat has the promise of alleviating that problem. I learn and interact best with automation visually, not aurally. I can read and select options better than hear and push number keys on the phone.

Immediately reaching a rep is a substantive improvement. So far, so good.

Let me share an experience I had recently which is typical. A several minute wait softened by a countdown timer estimating my "hold time" gave me time to carefully consider my question. I asked a precise and specific question. The rep never answered it.

My turnaround time to him was measured in seconds. his responses were measured in MINUTES! Every. Single. One.

At the beginning of the session, I asked a specific question. I answered the reps questions, and then I asked it over and over again for OVER AN HOUR!

At the end of that time it was clear I would not be helped. I asked to be transferred to a manager. He said "that line closes in 10 minutes and the queue is now closed. You can try again tomorrow." I called a 24x7 phone support line who had no way of accessing my chat records or the ticketing system used in the chat.

Chat reps must he handling many customers simultaneously. They don't provide helpful answers and they waste my time. This has happened over and over again with many vendors. The state of chat support is quite poor.

There is much promise, but no one I've worked with implements it well.

Sometimes chat can fall short

Thanks so much for your comments Tom.

Our data shows that chat can have among the highest satisfaction among online customer service options.

But sometimes chat fall short.

It sounds like your diagnosis of your situation is right: chat reps may have been handling too many simulataneous chats. That's a huge pet peeve of mine as well - I once had time to make a cup of tea while waiting for the agent to return to the conversation. It's best practice to aim for 2 - 3 chats. I think alot of companies struggle with unexpected peaks and, as a result, the customer experience suffers. A strong arguement for constant review of work flows. Hopefully the company you had this unpleasant chat experience with asked you to complete a feedback survey - this insight will go a long way into determining areas for improvement.

"among online customer service options"

When you put it that way, I agree. Of the awful customer service options, chat is probably the least bad.

I have only had exceptional customer service from They do an excellent job with their call center. I am happy to do business with them largely because of their excellent support.

Other than that lone example, technical support is largely a vast wasteland of unpleasant experiences. What's worse is that after wasting my time and NOT solving my problem, their script invariably requires them to say something like "Thank you for calling. We appreciate your business. Is there anything else I can help you with today?"

I've had similar experiences in banking, in wireless telephony, in wireline telephony, in IT, in airline call centers... The list goes on.

Large companies seem to be genetically incapable of competent support models. So, when you say "among online customer support options, the bar is so low that it's not hard to be first.

Hi Dianne, Great idea to

Hi Dianne,

Great idea to write about reinventing contact center cultures to improve chat experience. Really , if you "Change the way you look at (or do ) things, the things you look at changeā€. Wayne Dyer. Thank you for this enlightenment.