What is Your Live Chat Handle Time?

John Krautzel
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Good customer service blends the efficiency of your staff with convenient technological tools and delivers results that make your customers happy. You don't want to spend too much time and effort solving issues, but you want to develop a loyal client base. One such high-tech tool is live chat; while it can increase efficiency, it's crucial to watch your handle time when using this resource. Improve customer experience while maintaining efficiency with these tips.

Identify Improvements

Analyze your metrics for live chat, and compare them to your busiest times. For example, run three months of numbers to see your total number of sessions, the total time spent in chat, abandoned sessions and an average handle time. Examine the average wait time as it relates to the average time in chat. Does the wait time approach the same length of time you spend in a live chat conversation? Perhaps you should increase the number of agents available for this type of communication.

Set Goals

Once you see these metrics, set goals to improve your live chat numbers. As you set your goals, have your team examine what numbers you want to improve. Do you want to decrease the number of abandoned chats? Does your team want to spend less time in chat? How do you empower your employees to handle customer issues when they arise? All of your goals should remain relevant to reducing your time in chat while increasing customer satisfaction. The longer customers wait, the more missed opportunities you create to increase your loyal customer base.

Take Action

Recognize your observations about the current situation, and then list fixes for the problems. One possible fix is having customer service agents accept chat requests immediately rather than waiting. Sometimes, your agents get more than one request at the same time; if that happens, consider a way to invite someone to chat at a slightly later time while the rep handles another customer.

After you set a goal, find out what it takes to accomplish it. Do you have the money to hire more customer service agents? Does it make more sense to outsource your live chat initiative so you don't have to onboard new people? Your fixes and your time frame point to how much money to spend on this initiative.


One immediate solution is to find your busiest times of day and increase staffing levels. Then come up with a minimum number of agents needed to handle your chats. Assign experienced leaders to oversee these teams as you try to prevent fewer dropped sessions and spend less time in chat. Write guidelines regarding break times and coverage, because breaks lead to missed chat sessions. Update training so everyone's on the same page, and then ascertain the right kind of "away" setting that keeps wait times low.

Reassess your efforts after a few months. Did your firm see an improvement in your metrics? Do you spend less time in chat? Constantly look for ways to improve your metrics.

Live chat is a valuable resource for your customer service department because it's relatively easy to track the information in a chat platform. Improving the staffing end of chat remains a priority for reducing time spent talking to customers.

Photo courtesy of nenetus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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