Show Of Hands Showcase: Do You Have A Live-chat Feature On Your Website?

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Sarah Schutt (UWisconsin) used the Show of Hands platform to ask, “Do you have a live-chat feature on your association's website to facilitate real-time customer service?” Read more about the UWisconsin experience, with added insights from Duke University.

By Sarah Schutt (UWisconsin), with the participation of Claudia Attarian (Duke)

The team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison chose to utilize Zendesk chat as we were already using the Support product for our internal and external help center. The chat would allow us to take advantage of system integrations between the two products as well as create better, holistic data tracking practices. For implementation, the digital and customer service team collaborated to set-up features and ensure a “wow” experience was still provided to our alumni. Our biggest learning was that due to the level of customization desired, the complexity of the technical set-up was increased and continues to be something that we are making additional improvements on. 

As the customer service team learned the tool they developed several “best practice” standards including ideal response times, ideal staffing levels and minimal scripting to provide high quality customer experiences.  Incoming messages currently come in to the team during business hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. at a rate of around 2–5 chats per day.  Team members are able to answer chats as they come in while working on other tasks.  Approximately two staff members dedicate some of their staff time to the chat feature.

Overall, while the incoming chats are lower than we anticipated, the tool provides an effective mode of communication to constituents reviewing our website.  As events and invitations ramp back up in the fall of 2021, we expect the volume of chats to increase.

In the survey of other CAAE members, 10 provided affirmative responses. Of these, Claudia Attarian, Senior Director, Alumni Relations and Visitor Services at Duke University shared the following insights:

Q: What live chat platform are you using?

A: LiveChat

Q: On a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being super easy and 5 being super complicated, please rate the level of ease of implementation of your online chat platform.

A: 1, super easy

Q: How many staff members are dedicated to your live chat feature?

A: Three

Q: Approximately how many incoming chats do you receive per day?

A: I’d rather give an approximate by month because as we all know, these are not typical times! Currently, we are averaging about 20 chats/month with around 200 Zendesk tickets/month.

Q: What is the one piece of advice you would give to a colleague who is considering the addition of a live chat feature to their website?

A: Go for it! It is a feature that alumni love — they so appreciate the immediate interaction with a staff member. Also, we often receive quick-fix questions like directions, event start times and record updates.

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