Perhaps one of the more misunderstood features of SmarterTrack is its internal chat functionality. I'm not really talking about live chat -— that's primarily used to chat with external audiences, like your customers -— I'm talking about the agent instant messenger and chat rooms.

Not everyone is aware of these fantastic tools, so I want to explain how using agent instant messaging and chat rooms can help companies improve customer service without increasing costs.

It's all about the benefits, baby!

One of the main reasons SmarterTrack's internal chat features are somewhat overlooked is that many companies don't realize the benefit of keeping their agent-to-agent communications within their helpdesk system. In fact, most companies allow agents to chat using third-party services like Yahoo! of Microsoft Live Messenger. While these services can be efficient, they can expose agents and companies to the potential of lost information and abuse. Besides, keeping agent chat an internal component of your helpdesk offers additional benefits that just aren't available from third-party services :

  • It promotes collaboration. Instant messenger is the quickest, most efficient way to get clarification on an item, ask for assistance with an issue or get an opinion on the best way to craft a response. Sure, you can dash off an email or walk across the hall, but that's not always necessary. Instant messaging is immediate and can provide a less intimidating method for employee communication.
  • It lends itself well to companies with agents working across multiple locations or from remote offices. Got an office in London and one in New York, but need your customer service teams to be in regular contact? No problem. Set up a permanent chat room in SmarterTrack for weekly team meetings. Chat room conversations are archived too, so your employees can always refer to the transcripts later if they need to.
  • It reduces costs. Overall, you'll be spending less on employee training and development. Plus, well-trained employees usually equate to less problems and more sales.
  • It reduces churn. Because your agents are able to provide well-informed responses to inquiries, your customers will be happy. This means they'll continue to use your product and even consider purchasing other products and services your company offers.
  • It's archived. As with all communication channels within SmarterTrack, instant messenger and chat room conversations are stored within the helpdesk so managers or agents can refer to them later. This also makes it easy for companies to comply with regulatory standards like SOX and HIPAA.
  • It's more secure. You could use a third-party instant messaging client like MSN or Yahoo! for internal communications, but then you'd have to set up all of your employees in that system and you'd rely on public services or servers. This means your internal communications are not as secure as they would be if you were using SmarterTrack for agent communication. In addition, agents using third-party services can usually connect with their family and friends who are also using the service, exposing them to the temptation of personal communications.
In other words, using SmarterTrack's internal chat features can help companies improve their service levels effectively and inexpensively.

One thing about live chat…

There are a few live chat features relating to agent-to-agent communication, namely coaching and co-chat, that can further improve customer service levels. If you're not using these features, you're really missing out on a great employee development tool.

Co-chat allows a manager or senior agent to actively participate in a live chat session another agent is already working on. For example, customer XYZ is talking to agent John via live chat about a problem with a recent purchase. The customer is emotional, irate and does not like John's answers and asks to speak to a manager. Rather than transferring the chat, the manager can join the live chat and chat alongside John to calm the customer down and find a resolution that all parties are satisfied with. In this case, we're using co-chatting to "lead by example" and teach John how to best manage unhappy (and sometimes unreasonable) customers.

On the other hand, coaching can be used to assist an agent in chats from behind the scenes. Let's say it is Jane's first day answering live chats and the customer asks a question she doesn't know the answer to. She can request real-time assistance from another agent, who will coach her through the correct response. It's similar to co-chat, only the customer never knows that two agents were actually involved in the conversation for a few minutes.

Setting it all up

As luck would have it, we've got a few articles in the Knowledge Base that cover our internal chat features. Take a look at these, and if you have questions, feel free to comment on this blog post.