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Live chat metrics

Many of the metrics that can be used to email conversations or phone conversations can also be used for live chat. That being said, there are some entirely live chat specific metrics that we’ll be going through in this section that can help take your support team’s game to the next level.

Live chat metrics

Response time

With chat, it is even more important to respond quickly to your customer. The types of customers that are using chat to communicate with you are looking for a quick response and solution to their question. In fact, according to Arise, 84% of customers will abandon a chat if they haven’t received a response within two minutes.

Given that, tracking how quickly your agents are responding is  a must. There are a few questions that you can ask yourself if you’re looking to improve your chat response time:

  • Are your agents handling too many chats to be able to effectively respond to each one in a timely manner?
  • Are there specific product areas where response time is slower than others? If so, how can you improve it or learn from product areas where response time is fast?
  • Could you build processes, such as saved replies to boost your chat response time for common issues?
  • Could you put a gate in front of chat to get a bit more information from customers prior to responding to their request?
  • Would additional context to chat conversations be helpful for your customer support agents?

Response time is very dependent on the type of product your customer support agents are working with. If it is a highly technical product, it’s possible that they will need more time to consider their response before sending it. In that event, your company may want to consider how they can offer a “we’re working on it” type response in chat to let the customer know that there is a resolution on its way. You may also want to consider if live chat is the best venue to be offering support for your product — not all channels are created equal for every product.

If you decide to go with a live chat tool, give Chatra a try. It’s simple and easy to use for both agents and customers, and offers powerful features designed to reduce response times without impacting quality. For example, agents can see what visitors are typing and come up  with a reply even before visitors send a message or they can use saved replies to quickly answer common questions. It’s kind of like giving your agents the ability to read minds.
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Wait time

There is a reason why Sartre wrote a book in which Hell was a waiting room — no one likes to wait. Especially not if the waiting experience is just sitting in the queue. Unsurprisingly, wait time has a huge impact on customer satisfaction. According to Kayako, almost a fifth of customers rate long wait times as the most frustrating part of a live chat — they don’t want to be a part of the queue. Not only is how long visitors waited in the queue a valuable metric, but knowing the number of visitors who waited in the queue, then abandoned it in favor of another channel (or left it altogether) also gives insights into customer happiness and behavior. Not all chat services offer this metric, though. For example, for tools that don’t have a queuing feature, the response time between the first message of a visitor and the first reply of an agent can offer similar insights.

Imagine if you waited in line at the grocery store with a few things in your hand for a long time, and didn’t see the line moving at all. You then went to self-checkout and found all of the machines to be broken. You would probably go put all of the things back (or drop them right where you stood), and leave the store. You would also, likely, tweet about it, tell your friends about it, and not return to the store again if you had a choice.

This is the equivalent of someone sitting in your chat queue, switching to email, and still not getting a response. The chat queue is the checkout line, and switching to email with still no response is them trying to move to self-checkout only to find that it is all broken. Just like the hypothetical situation above, the customer likely would not return, would “drop” whatever they were trying to do, and perhaps even tweet about it. It is because of this that it’s so important to track your wait time.

Some questions that you can ask yourself about wait time and how you could reduce it are:

  • Have we understaffed our team and do we need more people?
  • Are we offering support to customers that shouldn’t be receiving it, or should we consider differentiating our support between paid tiers?
  • Are there macros or saved replies that we could use to make response times shorter and be able to get to more customers?

While having no wait time for chat is, of course, the goal, it doesn’t have to be that way to wow your customers. Drop it down enough, and provide an excellent experience, and you’ll be on the right track.

Number of chats

Number of chats as a metric refers to the number of chats that an agent can handle over the course of a span of time, similar to the number of tickets.

According to the latest industry reports, there are around 450 live chat sessions for 5000 visits daily. If your website visits are at approximately 500k, the same ratio goes down to approx 0.35% or 1700 live chat requests for 500,000 visits. On average, 274 chats per month per agent seems about standard with these numbers.

That’s quite a bit of traffic, especially if you have a small team. Given that amount of traffic, just like with tickets, it can be awesome to see super high numbers being pulled by your employees. That being said, also just like tickets in the inbox, it’s important to recognize what costs the ability to ramp up to that amount of chats handled are incurring. Here are a few questions to consider when evaluating your number of chats for your team:

  • Are my agents bandwidth constrained by the number of chats that they are handling?
  • Are my customers getting a poor experience because my agents aren’t paying as close attention to their inquiries?
  • How long are my customers waiting before they get a response from an agent?
  • What are my customers doing if they leave the queue for a chat? Do they send a request elsewhere, or just leave entirely?

These answers will help you get a better handle on what you need to do, from your chat number metric. If your employees are bandwidth constrained and your customers are suffering, it’s time to hire more people or reevaluate your chat strategy, for example. What people do if/when they leave will also give you some insight into the quality of your conversations, and where you may be able to make changes to create a  better experience.

Invitation Acceptance Rate

Some companies use a proactive live chat strategy to provide support, sales, and other customer services. For example, having a chat bubble that pops up on your pricing page can be a useful way to snag customers with questions before they leave the page and don’t think about your product again. The same can be said for your account page or any other page where you notice that a lot of people run into trouble. Your invitation acceptance rate is how frequently your chat invitation is accepted and used, and it tells you how well you are targeting customers that need help. So, if no one is using your chat, that might be problematic. A similar issue that you can detect through invitation acceptance rate is if your chats are not being picked up by agents. If that’s the case, there are some shifts in strategy that you might need to make.

Think about it: on Halloween, when children are knocking on doors to try to get candy, they won’t go and knock on the door of a house whose lights are off. When you have a chat box that doesn’t respond or just always uses an autoresponder, your company is that house, and if you’re always ready for a chat and no one is asking for it, you’re effectively just a bowl of candy sitting out on a porch.

Here are some questions to ask yourself to dig a little bit deeper into your invitation acceptance rate:

  • Are my chats being accepted by users, and are the questions that they ask valuable?
  • Are my agents responding to chats in a timely manner?
  • Should we pick other pages on which to try to proactively support customers?
  • How does manual chat versus proactive chat work on our customer base? Do people like picking when they get to chat?

For some companies, manual chat that the customer initiates might do much better than chat that populates proactively. Pay attention to how your customers respond and what they respond well to. One company’s best practices may be fatal to another’s strategy — you are the only one who knows your customer, so do what goes best by them.

Conversion Rate

As we mentioned above, it’s not just support or customer service that are using chat — sometimes sales and even product teams can get in on the fun. One of the best metrics to use to understand how live chat is doing for your sales team is conversion rate. As your marketing team generates leads, your sales team can then convert them into actual paying customers, thus your company’s conversion rate. To calculate conversion rate, specifically for sales, take the number of people that went through your live chat funnel and became a customer, and then divide it by the number of people that went through your chat funnel as a whole; to get a whole percentage, multiply it by 100.

Forrester says 44% online consumers say that having questions answered by a live person within a purchasing process is one of the most important features a website can offer. Thus, having live chat as part of your mix should actually boost your conversion rate. That being said, there are a few questions that you can ask of yourself and your team to see if it could be better:

  • Could our sales team get involved earlier on in the conversation and help convert even more customers?
  • Could we place proactive chat bubbles on other pages that would allow the sales team to interface with people more?
  • Are there strategies we could be using in chat to upsell that we aren’t already taking?
  • Are our customers interested in live chat, or is it a medium that doesn’t work for them and their demographic?

While your conversion rate, given the data from Forrester, may be amazing from chat, it’s also possible that the main demographic of your customers are not interested in chat support. So, pay attention to conversion both as a way to gauge your sales team’s success and how to see if there’s another strategy you could be taking.

Peak Hour Traffic

Just like in email support, knowing when you get the most chats can be very helpful for live chat. That’s where peak hour traffic comes in. Peak hour traffic lets you know when your customers are the most active, and you will likely need the most employees, or to hire people in specific time zones to cover it.

According to Ameyo, 48% of companies that are using a contact center for live chat or phone believe that unpredictable customer traffic is one of the topmost challenges they have to face. It can be hard to know when and where customers are going to come, but tracking traffic over time can help to uncover patterns in times of day or even just days of the week to better help you staff your chat team. Often, these kinds of analytics are pulled by your chat system or help desk.

Chat and helpdesk customer traffic analytics
The screenshot above shows how many different insights the reports from Chatra provide: you can see your busiest days during a certain period range, and if you pick a certain date, you can see your busiest hours. Sign up for Chatra now and analyze how visitors use and perceive your live chat support.
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With chat, timeliness is key. You should know that any time there are more customers and more chats are going to be a higher burden on your team. You should be better staffed, and ensure that you have prepared your team with the tools that they need to succeed. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Do I need to hire internationally to cover hours that are peak and currently suffering wait times?
  • Is my team suffering any wait times due to peak traffic hours?
  • Do things like CSAT and other metrics dip during peak traffic hours?
  • Are my peak traffic hours what I expected?
  • Do my peak traffic hours make sense for what I know about our target demographic of a user and their location?

While peak hour traffic is mostly useful for ensuring that you’ve hired enough people to cover the times that are important, it can tell you interesting information about who is using your product and why. This is specifically interesting if the times for chat are different from the times that you see peak traffic in your email inbox: which demographics are you meeting with each?

Missed Chats

Missed chats are one of the worst things that a company can do to a customer: no autoresponse, no notification, just silence on the other line. It makes a customer feel frustrated and not cared for. It’s even worse than keeping a customer waiting, because at least then at the end they get a response. Missed chats are truly the worst possible chat experience for your customer.

Because of that: they’re incredibly important to track. Missed chats can give you indicators on agent productivity, for example: if they’re missing a lot of chats, it’s likely that either they need to do some work on their productivity, or they’re overburdened with more than they can handle. They also give you a good picture into the health of your support organization as a whole: how often are chats missed? Why?

The bad news is that, on average, 21% of all live chats are missed by customer support agents using live chat. Imagine how many missed opportunities you’ve had to talk with customers, and how many frustrated detractors of your company that could create? When considering missed chats and why they are happening, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Are we understaffed and is the support team overburdened?
  • Are there better productivity tactics that we could employee on the support team?
  • Are there tools that we could implement that would allow agents to reply more quickly?
  • Do my agents know that this is something that is important to their role?

Work with your team or individual members of the team to understand why it is that they’re missing chats and if there is something that you can do to help. If they have too many conversations and aren’t able to handle them, perhaps hire more. If it’s productivity, maybe a team-wide process would be good to put in place.