Chat services

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As an organisation, one of our major ambitions is to become more digital, both internally and externally. This ambition matches the increasing customer demand & appetite for online services. For a customer, there is nothing more frustrating than going on to an organisation’s website, being unable to find the information you need and then having to wait in a telephone queue to get some simple information that should have been available online.

Providing customers with online chat services eliminates the need for customers to contact us via traditional, and costly, methods such as telephone, email and face-to-face. Chat services operate in a similar way to Instant Messaging on Skype for Business. It allows customers to resolve quick and easy transactions, in a very informal way, whilst on our website. As well as dealing with customers in a more responsive manner, using the reporting capabilities within Netcall allows you to identify gaps in content and service provision on our web pages, thus taking a more pro-active approach to how we tackle customer demand.

At a time when budgets are tight, chat services also allow you to deal with customer demand more efficiently – front-line staff are able to deal with 4 chat sessions at once, rather than being limited to one phone call or one email at a time.

Over the last 18 months, chat services have been opened up on the following high-volume services within the council’s Contact Centre:

  • Benefits
  • Blue badges
  • Council tax
  • General enquiries
  • Household waste & recycling
  • Parking services

Take up was slow initially as we didn’t market this new channel of communication. However the new council website, launched in June last year, allowed us to put chat services in more prominent positions. As a result of this, we have seen a month on month increase in demand for chat services – across all services, Customer Services are now handling over 1000 chat sessions per month. In certain areas, this has also seen a corresponding decrease in contact via traditional contact methods (telephone, email etc).

Feedback from both customers and front-line staff has been extremely positive.

By Ross Mcqueen on 31st Jan 2020
Ross Mcqeen is the Customer Service manager at Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council.