10 best practice tips for live chat queue management

How many times have you picked up items as you wandered around a shop, only to abandon them when you saw the massive queue at the checkout? Or gone into the store in need of customer service, but given up when it took too long to be served?

We don’t want to wait in line to spend our money or reach out to businesses. This aversion to waiting for customer support is perhaps why live chat has become such a must-have for online customer service.

But if you’re going to offer ‘live’ service, you can’t give customers an awful wait experience. Here are our top ten best practice tips for live chat queue management.

1. Categorise

Good live chat queue management starts with categorisation. So, categorise your company’s common customer queries and needs, and create a different queue for each category. Each categorised query can then be routed to a properly trained agent. This reduces the number of chat transfers and enables quick, efficient chat handling.

2. Prioritise key customers

Prioritising is just as important as categorising. You should be able to prioritise higher value customers or more urgent support enquiries rather than leaving them to stew in a queue. For example, high-value customers could be identified through CRM integration, cart items or website history. Similarly, queries requiring immediate attention could be identified using smart keyword recognition.

3. Find balance

Live chat queue management involves striking a balance between supply and demand, and between support and sales. Don’t be afraid to move your team members around. The occasional re-shuffle can help ensure the most demanding areas of your customer service are being met with enough support.

4. Look for trends

Your queues are most likely to be full during peak hours and periods. So, look for common times that more chats are requested and increase the number of online agents accordingly. More available agents at peak times means shorter queue wait times, but too many could mean your agents are left twiddling their thumbs. It’s down to you to analyse and act accordingly.

5. Set specific goals

Always set guidelines for target wait times, including a limit. This helps ensure your service standards are maintained consistently, as well as being a useful reference point for employees. With queue guidelines, your live chat agents know when they’re providing the best possible service. For example, they can manage conversations knowing whether they have extra time with a customer for upselling or relationship-building, or whether they may need to start wrapping up.

6. Use pre-chat surveys

Pre-chat surveys are a useful tool for live chat queue management. A pre-chat survey helps you ensure that each waiting customer gets connected to the right agent without any further delay, reducing their frustration. Plus, pre-chat surveys help determine queue priority and category. This means your agents can offer personalised service as soon as they connect – which is a pleasant experience for the customer following a queue.

7. Use chatbots

Let chatbots tag-team with your agents to handle FAQs and simplistic problems. Chatbots have no limit on the number of customers they can serve at once, meaning that some customers needn’t queue at all. Chatbots also keep the repetitive, easy queries out of your live chat queue entirely.

8. Use canned responses

Similarly, canned responses can be a catalyst for the live chat queue management process. Use canned responses for repetitive parts of the chat such as greetings and sign-offs, to save your agents from typing the same words in each conversation. It will shave off valuable seconds that can help the team whizz through queues quicker.

9. Manage your experienced agents

Have your experienced agents on hand to handle the hardest and most long-winded chats. Less experienced agents should always to transfer the chats dealing with complex issues beyond their skillset. The experienced agent will be more efficient and capable of handling the difficult chat, while the less experienced team member can take and solve a new chat and keep the queue short.

10. Inform waiting chatters

Lastly and most importantly: keep your waiting chat users in the loop. Give waiting customers key information such as estimated wait times and alternate support options. This enables them to decide whether they want to wait or not and gives them other ways of reaching you – likely in a better mood than if they were forced to wait a long time with no explanation. Customers will be more forgiving if you manage their expectations.

Live chat queue management: a support must-have

Unfortunately, queues and waits are (mostly) inevitable parts of the customer service picture. But with live chat queue management, you can help take the weight out of waiting.

To start your journey towards quick, competent online service, try a free 30-day trial of WhosOn today.

Useful links

50 live chat tips to delight your digital customers

The dos and don’ts of canned responses

What questions should you ask in your pre-chat survey?