Over the past few months, we’ve fielded questions from several companies trying to understand how productive their agents should be for mobile/social customer support.
These new text-based channels bring an uncertainty around service levels and best practices for your support team. As you look to launch additional mobile/social channels such as SMS, chat, and social, below are 3 common myths to dispel.
Myth 1. Chat handle times should be lower than voice:
On average, most support calls over 8 minutes are generally seen as a bad customer experience.
From the surface, many people would assume chat/social handle times to be lower, given the ability to handle multiple conversations at once.
As a matter of fact, a global Live Chat report estimates an average chat handle time of 12.5 minutes. Don’t be alarmed by this figure. The benefit of text-based support is that customers can take their time to respond to companies.
This works in the agent’s favor, as they can tend to another customer while waiting for a response.
Chatdesk’s take: Focus more on quick response times (under 90 seconds) to customer replies, rather than the overall handle time. Set clear guidelines for your agents around the types of conversations to be handled over text vs. another channel (i.e. calling the customer on the phone)
Myth 2. Agents can handle up to 5 social/chat conversations at once:
A key benefit of text-based service over voice is the ability for agents to handle multiple conversations simultaneously, ultimately driving your cost per conversation down.
For example, HP reports that social media support agents can handle up to 40 percent more customers per day than phone agents
We recently had a conversation with a customer service professional who heard that agents were able to handle 5 conversations at once. While this may be true for experienced agents handling transactional questions such as account/shipping queries, this should be seen as the exception and not the norm.
For those new to text support, customer support managers will need to monitor the number of chat/social conversations their agents can handle without negatively impacting response times.
It’s safer to start with a lower number of concurrent chats and adjust based on the complexity of the conversations being handled.
Chatdesk’s take: Stick to 3–4 conversations for your agents in the beginning. Based on agent response/handle times, consider adjusting the number of conversations up or down to limit agent errors.
Myth 3. Social Support agents should not handle other channels:
Managing multiple customer support channels can be very complex, especially given the size and expertise of your support team.
Intuitively, you may believe it’s best to have dedicated agents for each channel. Many justify this decision to reduce agent confusion across channels and limit errors.
However, depending on the volume of conversations per channel, this approach may not be sustainable.
Jeremy Watkin, customer service expert and featured columnist, recently completed a study on agent staffing and found that only 25% of companies had agents dedicated to doing just chat. The other 75% were cross trained to handle multiple support channels.
The general consensus is that agents should focus on one channel at a time, but be flexible enough to support other channels during down periods (e.g., chat agents to assist with other text-based channels like email in between conversations).
Chatdesk’s take: Train your agents to be comfortable with multiple service channels. Create a flexible workforce management system that allows agents to move to other channels during peak times.
Do you have any additional myths to share? We would love to hear your thoughts so please reach out if you have any questions or want to discuss more.