1. Set up Webchat
Selecting a platform/technology provider for a web chat service
We Are With You selected their web chat service platform because it’s easy to pick up and use. They didn’t want to have a difficult learning process of new software.
See if you can test with a free trial before you commit to purchasing.
Understand what features you want out of a platform so you can select one what is fit for purpose
2. Staffing Webchat
Dedicate a specific team of people to work on your web chat services
We Are With You run a 9am - 9pm service, working usually in shifts from 9am-6pm, 6pm-9pm.
It is hard to do multiple things at once if you’re having a conversation with someone online. Therefore, you need a team solely focused on delivering support and responses to live chats.
Figure out how many staff you need on your web chat team
We Are With You based their number of staff on the traffic that their website gets.
They have 2 permanent members of staff.
They need 3 members of staff at any one time on one shift to support people who are trying to access support or information.
If you are a small charity or you don’t have a lot of traffic, look to join up with other charities. You can share staff to cover multiple services. If you’re working in a local area look to see what other charities are they you could connect with.
Learning the technical aspect of a web chat service is the least important part. Connecting with people in the right way is more difficult to learn. Try to use a platform which doesn’t require a lot of learning and use it during training so staff get used to it.
Training should result in staff members being upskilled when they join the web chat team. At We Are With You you’re not always an expert when you join.
Try to create a team of staff who know the organisation well - We Are With You staff must have 2 years minimum experience in the organisation before training as a web chat adviser. This is so they have an understanding of how to connect with people and experience in what a recovery journey looks like.
When staff have completed training they should begin working on live conversations with the guidance and oversight of a supervisor.
We Are With You use a type of whisper system, where the training member of staff can work alongside another staff member to build their confidence before working alone.
When someone starts, after technical training, they’ll be observing another member of staff in a live conversation to assist without engaging with the client directly.
Then they will be supported by a supervisor as they begin their own live chat with a client. The supervisor can help gather information for the client or advise the staff member but they are not seen by the client.
Finally the training staff member is confident to continue answering live chats on their own, and know they can check in with colleagues virtually if they need help.
This system means a client will only ever feel supported by one person and build a connection with them, instead of multiple people.
All staff members can deliver all types of support from light touch to more in depth support. Everyone doesn’t need to be a specialist.
We Are With You have always run training for web chat remotely, as they have staff across the country.
Have a plan for being responsive if change is expected
Staffing for web chat has been constant for We Are With You, their demand hasn’t changed too much due to COVID-19.
They have a capacity of staff who can no longer do their day to day job, who could be trained up if they’re needed.
If there is a media campaign or ad about their service, We Are With You recruit more people in case there is an increase of service.
3. Running a webchat
For a client
- Clients come onto the organisation’s social media page or website.
- There’s a box that says chat now which clients can click on. If they don’t click into web chat but have been on the website for a while, a nudge will pop up to let them know they can ask for help.
- When they enter into a chat it’s picked up by a member of staff. To begin they have to consent to the discussion (Collect GDPR info etc.). We Are With You don’t collect any personal data but they do ask clients to agree to a privacy statement which informs them of how the conversation might be viewed etc.
- Staff will usually agree with the client how they can move forward by the end of the conversation, depending on what they need.
- Clients end the conversation feeling supported and informed. Staff continue to pick up more conversations with clients.
Many thanks to We Are With You for contributing this recipe.
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