Chatting Online With Customer Service Folks

from the the-most-annoying-experience-of-my-life dept

The only times I’ve ever used any sort of online chat tool with a customer service agent was in the past few months (including yesterday) when my cable modem would suddenly stop working. You could tell that the person on the other end was involved in multiple chatting sessions, using stock answers, and (worst of all) not all that knowledgeable. They’ve never actually been able to solve my problem, but I figure that (hopefully) the problem gets logged somewhere, and soone or later someone realize that “wow, there are a lot of service problems in this part of California, something must be wrong…” and it gets fixed. MSNBC has an article talking about how these types of customer service chats are growing in popularity, though not everyone finds them helpful. Amusingly, some of the service agents, say it’s clear that some people on the other end show up just because they want someone to talk to. The article, though, does mention two “new developments” in this field – both of which sound awful. The first is “proactive chat”, where someone will start chatting with you the second you enter a website. They quote a Gartner analyst saying this feature is one of “the most annoying experiences” of his life. I think it would probably just freak me out. The other technology, would be automating chat (like those ActiveBuddy IM bots), so that you would be “chatting” with a program that is acting like a human – and a real person would only step in if things went bad. If you’ve ever tried to get a problem solved by interacting with a software program, you can guess about how often this is likely to work…

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Comments on “Chatting Online With Customer Service Folks”

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ScooterBoy says:

chatting with Sue M.

so last year, I had a fun little chat with “Sue M” on MSN’s eShop gift concierge… i used to be a telemarketer, so on occasion, i find it fun to chat with the folks on the other end of the line.. hee hee. maybe it’s annoying though, but some of them seem to have fun. I don’t think Sue M liked me very much though.

Michael Armstrong (user link) says:

I used to work for a company that did this

It was rather interesting work. The database behind it and software we wrote to handle this stuff was pretty cool.
Our “proactive chat”, in the case of Norelco’s Web site, was not as in-your-face as the article implies. It was only used on certain pages like within the shopping cart or on product pages. If you sat on the page for too long a window would pop up offering the chat feature.
Most of the chat functions, especially those within MSN’s Web site, were reactive. The end-user had to seek it out and it was offered as an extended option along side FAQ pages, quick-reference documentation and other self-help functions.
Many people are still using dial-up for Internet access, so calling with an on-line thing means breaking their Internet connection and make the voice call. This way they can get help directly on-line without playing the “try this and call back if it doesn’t work game.”
Many people like the right now feeling of on-line help, especially when they can “talk” to a real human. Email help plans don’t work as well because people want that instant gratification that chat based solutions offer.
We did find quite a few people that would continue chatting with the reps even after the problem was solved just for the human interaction.

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