A best practice guide to managing concurrent chat sessions

Living up to the ‘live’ promise in live chat support can get hectic. Unlike other support channels, chat requests demand immediate attention. You can’t defer them or sweep them under the rug until later.

When you have a high chat volume, then, agents can find themselves managing more than one chat session at once. These concurrent chat sessions influence response time, customer satisfaction and even agent morale. So, it’s important that they aren’t mismanaged.

To help, we’ve put together a best practice guide for managing concurrent chat sessions. Here are some pointers to keep your service running smoothly during peak periods.


Setting allowances

Concurrent chat sessions require careful set-up consideration before all else. Supervisors and admins can limit how many concurrent chat sessions each agent can handle. But how many should that be?

Unfortunately, there’s no one size fits all rule. Too few concurrent chats enabled, and you risk not having enough agents to handle demand — meaning long chat queue times. Yet enabling too many concurrent chat sessions per agent can cause overload and rushed responses.

The best practice is to base this decision on two key factors. These are the skill level and experience of the agent, and the complexity of the queries they handle.

For instance, agents with more experience or higher training may be comfortable taking three or more chats at a time. Meanwhile, a new-to-the-job agent may struggle to handle more than one chat at a time.

However, remember that higher-skilled agents typically handle harder queries than lower-skilled agents. For example, handling technical support chats or taking escalations from angry customers. In this case, enabling too many concurrent chat sessions increases the complexity for your agents further.

As a starting point, we recommend a maximum of three concurrent chats per (skilled) agent.


During concurrent chat sessions

The other side of concurrent chat best practice involves how agents can best manage multiple chats and still offer great service. When you have multiple chats on the go, it’s a bit like spinning plates. The more you’re handling at once, the more intense it gets.

The most important tip is to avoid getting overwhelmed. But that’s easier said than done. So, how can you keep the live chat plates from crashing down around you? It comes down to maintaining speed and quality.


Keeping your time

Starting with speed, be sure to keep track of wait times. This can help you avoid spending too long with one customer and letting another drop the chat. Tools such as canned responses and predictive chat are helpful with this. They both allow you to create and send messages quickly, reducing customer wait times between messages.

Having a distraction-free chat interface can also be helpful when maintaining focus on the concurrent chat sessions at hand. With it, other notifications or channels won’t distract you. You don’t need to navigate a cluttered interface, and you can quickly tab between each chat for efficiency. So, you never have to leave ‘the zone’.


Maintaining chat quality

When it comes to quality, there’s more than one concurrent chat best practice to consider. First, double check your messages are for the right person before you send. We’ve all accidentally sent the wrong message to someone because we thought we were talking to someone else. In customer service, this comes across as sloppy and unprofessional.

Next, use tools like chat mood to make sure that you aren’t just answering the right question, but answering it in the right way. It can be easy to lose track of which customer is feeling what during concurrent chat sessions. But responding light-heartedly to an angry or negative message can serve to damage the customer experience. With chat mood, you get a real-time view of how each chatter is feeling, making it easy to respond appropriately.

Also, use the in-built spell checker for each message you send. When juggling chats, it can be easy to rush and make more typos than normal. By using tools like a spell checker, you reinforce the quality of your message and your authority as a representative of the brand.


Keep the plates spinning

Concurrent chat sessions are a great way to meet increased demand during peak chat times. When they’re managed well, they reduce wait times and enable quality, real-time service for every customer.

Having useful live chat features at your disposal is a key part of managing your concurrent chat sessions. To see how useful the right feature set can be, why not try a 30-day free trial of WhosOn?


Useful links

10 best practice tips for live chat queue management

Meeting the need for customer service speed

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