Finding the right balance in staffing a live chat customer service team is the challenge many companies face today. If a company is customer-oriented and focused on excellent service and experience the main issue they need to solve is to find out how many customer support agents they need on live chat. It is not just about answering all chats fast and efficiently. It’s also about finding the right balance between operational efficiency and customer satisfaction. I.e. the number of agents should be enough to provide excellent service and their time should be spent with maximal efficiency. In this blog post we will answer the most frequently asked questions which arise when companies face live chat agents hiring challenge. We will also provide useful recommendations based on our experience and feedback from our customers who have been using our live chat software for more than 20 years.
Can I use Erlang calculator to find out how many agents I need?
Erlang calculator helps to calculate the number of agents for voice channels, and this assumes that they can handle only one contact as a time. Thus, standard Erlang calculator cannot be used for live chat planning as the live chat agents can multitask and handle several chats at a time depending on their skills and the nature of assistance they provide.
Can I divide chats volume by chats concurrency?
Live chats can be of different complexity and duration. Thus, you cannot guarantee that your agents will be able to handle a fixed number of chats consistently across the day.
Can I just hire agents based on a flat concurrency across the day?
The chats load can differ throughout the day. There are many factors that influence it, and these factors depend on business type, audience, time, etc. Consistent concurrency does not exist; thus, you cannot hire agents based on it.
Key factors to determine how many customer support agents you need
To find out how many customer support agents are required you need to consider the following key factors:
Type of product or service company provides:
- Industry. It is necessary to make an analysis of the industry type you operate in.
- Product / service category. Different product and service categories require different types of customer service, agent skills and time for processing customer requests.
- Audience. You need to understand the skills of your audience, the number of visitors you get daily and how often they get in touch with you.
- Revenue model. It can significantly influence customer expectations and support needs.
The number of customers:
- The number of customers you have at present. The current number of customers will be a foundation to estimate your present needs.
- Growth projections. Accurate projections will help you estimate the need for live chat agents as your company scales.
- The total number of customer requests per month. The number of customers who interact with your customer service team on different channels.
Live chat is known to be one of the most popular communication channels thus, users who used to contact you by phone or email will be glad to use live chat as their preferred communication channel. However, if your agents multitask and assist by phone or handle email requests, you need to take this into account while estimating the number of customer support agents for your team.
What should I start with?
First of all, you need to choose a reliable live chat software provider with convenient and friendly interface both for your customers and customer service agents. Various metrics are also important, let’s see why:
- Live chat statistics by Provide Support live chat service offers the following metrics which will help you not only understand the load of your team but also detect website UI issues:
- Statistics on agents will show you the agents load, chats response time and the average number of messages. You will be able to build graphics to see how these metrics change throughout the selected period of time. For example, you can see busiest hours and less busy ones during the day with a click.
- Statistics on departments will help you see how many chats each department gets and how many agents you need to assign to each department to improve the customer service experience.
- Chat referrer metrics will show you the pages where your visitors most frequently click your online or offline live chat button. This way you will be able to improve your user interface to make it friendlier.
- Chat transcripts viewer gives the access to your chat transcripts online in a convenient application with an ability to apply various filters for thorough chat records analysis.
Provide Support offers free fully functional trial with access to all features without limitations. You can see how live chat works on your website before purchasing.
Can I predict the number of agents based on the number of website visitors?
First, you need to decide whether you are going to provide reactive or proactive customer service. The predictions of live chats number will depend on this. For example, 10% of website visitors is a conservative estimate for reactive chat. For proactive chat this number will differ depending on the proactive customer service strategy your company follows.
With Provide Support live chat service, you can add a monitoring code to your website and monitor it in real time as well as generate traffic reports in the statistics app. This way you will see the traffic and will be able to decide on an approximate number of agents.
What are your live chat operation hours?
The next step which will help you decide on the number of agents for live chat is to understand how long they will be online. To make the right decision you need to take into account the number of visitors and the rough live chat load estimate. For example, you can start by covering the busiest hours and then you can expand if necessary.
What are your live chat objectives?
This is the question you need to answer before hiring your customer service team. Without a clear understanding of these objectives, it will be hard to take the most out of the live chat tool on your website.
- Proactive live chat will require more agents as they not only handle ongoing chats but also handle interactions from proactive chat invitations which are used to generate leads or reduce shopping cart abandonment.
- Reactive live chat assumes that your agents reply only to the chats initiated by customers and thus you need less team members.
- Multitasking on live chat and other communication channels will assume that the volume of live chats your agents can handle will depend on the amount of customer service requests on other channels and the priorities you set.
- Providing technical customer service or answering general inquiries requires different skills and time for processing.
What are the skills of your agents?
If your agents are trained well and can answer questions fast and efficiently this means they will easily multitask and handle several chats concurrently. On the other side, if your agents are not that experienced, it will take them more time to handle customer requests. In addition, to get help with complicated issues they will need to invite more skilled co-workers. Thus, if you focus on customer service, having more than three chats concurrently will significantly reduce your customer service quality. Consider this when hiring and training agents for live chat.
Will I need to make adjustments?
Yes, yes and one more time yes. When your customers get used to your new communication channel, they will start using it more and as a result you will need to increase your team. At the same time, the number of customer service queries may depend on the season, campaigns you run and customer service channels you offer. Thus, you need to use Live chat reporting to measure your agents’ load and quality of the service they provide.
To have the right number of live chat agents in your team you need to constantly make adjustments, monitor traffic, agents’ performance and analyze customer feedback. If you hire live chat customer service team first time, this task may be very challenging, and you need to analyze everything carefully and take into account all factors that impact the number of customer queries and as a result agents’ load.
- How many customer support agents do I need on live chat? - February 7, 2024
- Getting Started with Affiliate Marketing: Tips for Beginners - October 19, 2023
- Introducing Provide Support pricing update - October 10, 2023