In a previous post, I discussed why email by itself isn’t a sufficient tool for online customer service and recommended live chat as an additional service channel that libraries should offer. Building on those thoughts, in this post I’d like to offer a few reasons why you should consider partnering with Unique to manage live chat for you rather than staffing it internally:
1. More Coverage, Part I
Given that your website is open for business 24/7 with a growing array of resources available to customers, it makes sense to be there for them over chat for as many hours as possible. The maximum chat coverage most libraries can provide is limited by their hours of operation, leaving significant blocks of time without coverage each morning and evening. At Unique we offer over 100 hours of chat coverage per week, which allows us to help customers beyond the library’s hours of operation in addition to regular business hours.
2. More Coverage, Part II
Another dimension of coverage is where the chat window appears on your website. Among libraries that offer chat in some form, it’s common to find the chat window only on the “Contact Us” page, forcing customers to navigate to that page to use the chat or even discover it in the first place. My sense is that this is an attempt to keep the number of chats at a manageable level. That’s understandable given how chat is often staffed (more on that below), but it also defeats the purpose to some degree. Our concept is to embed the chat window throughout the website, including the online catalog, so that it gets as much use as possible and so that users can get the help they need without having to navigate away or open another tab or window.
3. No Limits
Not only is the typical library limited to its hours of operation in the chat coverage it can provide, it’s also limited by the staffing resources it can allocate within those hours – both in terms of the overall number of staff members and the other job responsibilities those staff members have to juggle in addition to chat. As a result, the capacity or volume of chats the typical library can handle is relatively low – which is why, as mentioned above, it’s common to find the chat window embedded only on the “Contact Us” page rather than featured on the front page and throughout the site. At Unique those limitations don’t exist – we can handle as many chats as you need us to, quickly and efficiently. And with our flat-rate pricing, we’ll handle an unlimited number of chats for one low monthly rate. If your chat volume spikes in the run-up to your Summer Reading Program, we’ll handle them all, and your bill will remain exactly the same.
4. Greater Responsiveness
Related to the above, response time is everything when it comes to online chat. For chat to be effective, you have to consistently respond to customers within a few seconds of their initial message. This is why asking public services staff to monitor chat in addition to interacting with on-site customers, answering phone calls, and other responsibilities often doesn’t work very well. Something has to give (understandably so), and it’s often chat. After all, it’s easier to ignore a chat than a phone call or a customer standing in front of you. With Unique, you have a whole team of chat specialists at your disposal to make sure your online customers are served quickly and efficiently.
Using Unique’s chat service is cost-effective and provides significantly more coverage and greater responsiveness than the typical library can muster from its own staffing resources. To learn more, chat or message us on our website or sign up for a free webinar.