Hiring a managed live chat provider is one of the easiest ways a business can take advantage of the benefits of an online chat campaign — like more web leads and better quality leads. But effectively outsourcing this function to a group of outsiders who know next to nothing about your business can be another matter entirely.
For all the fantastic results that a well-run managed live chat solution can help generate, hiring the wrong vendor or mismanaging your vendor can seriously damage your brand. But don’t worry, I have three easy ways you can collaborate with your managed chat provider for success.
1. Set Clear and Realistic Expectations for your Managed Chat Vendor
An outsourced managed live chat firm is never going to be able to learn your products and services as well as you do. But the good news is that they don’t have to. Their job is not be an online sales rep, but rather an online concierge, making your site visitors feel cared for, helping them find their way around your site, or answering simple questions and then coordinating a follow-up with a real expert. Over time, your chat team will be able to take on more and more as they get more comfortable and learn more about your offerings. But unless your business is purely e-commerce based, expect that your managed live chat provider will be warming up leads for your internal sales people to close. Given that mindset, think about how you sell and what information your chat team can provide you that will make that job easier. Is your sales team territory-based? Make sure your chat vendor provides a zip code for every lead. Is your service licensed/quoted by the number of users in an organization? Have your chat operators ask that question for you. If managed well, your chat team will deliver better quality leads than any other online initiative.
2. Maintain a Quality FAQ Document
Sending chat operators to man your website without good information is like sending a soldier into battle without a weapon. They don’t stand a chance out there unless you give them the tools they need to do their jobs properly. Spend the time to put together a good Frequently Asked Questions document and don’t be afraid to revise it over time. If you’re not sure what should be in your FAQ, spend some time talking with clients, friends and family — their insight will be extremely valuable. Some managed live chat vendors will maintain wikis or other collaborative sites where FAQs can be modified over time. If that’s not available though, even a Google Doc makes an effective way to share and curate support documentation.
3. ALWAYS Provide Feedback
Any professional managed chat firm should provide you with transcripts of every chat they handle on your website. Your job is to make sure you read them all as they come and provide actionable feedback. Especially early on your chat team is going to make mistakes as they learn the ropes. Anticipate this and make sure that you’re taking advantage of coaching opportunities as they come. Another useful way to manage feedback is to schedule a conference call a couple of weeks to a month into service and talk things through over the phone. Not only will you be able to coach your operators but you’ll also get valuable feedback from them as well.
Managed live chat can be an invaluable asset to your online marketing — but only if you are proactive with your vendor and take care to properly educate and manage your operators. But in the end you get a more cost-effective chat solution than most small to mid-size businesses could run in-house and, hopefully a steady stream of quality leads from your website.