Live Chat Routing – Lead Customers in Distress to Their Heroes

Wojciech Guminski
9 min read
Nov 22, 2022
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If you're running a business, it's very likely that you've had to deal with incoming chat requests at some point. It's hard to deny that the chat widget has become a staple of online communication and an integral part of modern website design. When in need, customers instinctively search for a chat button to start a chat and communicate their queries to available agents. The "first look" is what keeps them talking.

Most people reach out to companies when they are already stressed out by some kind of issue they're facing. Simply starting a chat can raise their stress level. If they encounter roadblocks, like reaching the wrong person for their query, you have a recipe for disaster. People can very easily get discouraged from communicating when their anxiety kicks in, and misdirection is a massive trigger.

Bad experience doesn't translate very well into sales, so how can you make sure that your customers are always on a seamless path to their destination? Proper live chat routing is the answer.

Customer routing strategy

A routing strategy is your plan for the distribution of incoming chats among available agents. Typically, a strategy like that will direct chats to a specific chat agent based on the conversation topic.

Customers can specify their needs in different ways; for example, by choosing the most relatable subject from a survey, or by describing their case to a bot. Depending on the input, the system connects visitors with the most fitting department. This way a support chat gets assigned to a support representative, while a sales chat ends up with a sales agent.

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6 different ways you can route incoming chat requests

Just like Amazon and its elaborate package delivery system, you can deliver customers to the capable hands of support heroes in various ways.

1. Closed-end questions

A common strategy is to route chats depending on survey results. The form will usually depend on your website design. You could simply list the departments by name, offering direct contact to available agents, or you could hide departments behind a question-answer survey field.

For example, you could ask clients to pick their children's favorite type of toy from a drop-down list and have specialized departments assigned to each type, ready to help with finding a dream Christmas present. Easy to set up and control, it is one of the most popular ways to route chats.

However, keep in mind that, in a way, you're leaving customers to their own fate. There’s a chance they'll misunderstand the survey, or simply pick a random answer in a hurry, not paying attention to the question. Human error leads to bad experiences. Even if it isn't your company's fault directly, you want to avoid such situations. It's best to stick to very basic surveys and make them as simple and straightforward as possible.

2. User-friendly chat button

Either available during chats as quick replies, or displayed on a pop-up banner, chat buttons are a great call to action, especially when stress kicks in. Companies often add chat buttons to their error-related pop-ups, so customers can immediately act and relieve their stress. This may sound like a very basic thing, but showing a path to a lost visitor can greatly build up their trust in your business.

Make sure that the helping hand is connected to a capable body, so link your flashy chat button to the correct bunch of support agents. An immediate response time and lightning-fast resolution will bring you just as many loyal customers as a successful sales pitch.

What is more, each chat button can trigger a totally new chat, allowing clients to talk with different teams at the same time!

3. URL address architecture

One of the most elegant routing options to consider is to assign agents directly to websites. Or even more specifically, to selected site pages, like a purchase confirmation panel, login screen, or help center article. This way, incoming chats get automatically routed to the predefined agents without requiring customers' direct attention. Everything happens in your digital theater backstage where custom rules can come into play.

URL routing rules will become your number one silent partner when you put some thought and time into it. Do not overcomplicate your setup, as it can get tricky to maintain and customize in the future, but don't be afraid to utilize it. Creating spheres of influence for sales, support, and other departments will make it so much easier to manage visitor traffic. The fewer transfer requests, the happier your agents and customers are.

Another big advantage of URL chat routing is the opportunity to divide chat widget looks between your domains. Not only can you route chats to different teams, but you can also create separate chat widget designs for each brand. Let's imagine that you're running a few online businesses, each having a dedicated website. You'd want to have a chat widget with suitable looks for each one, right? This applies to a single site as well. You can always make the chat widget fit specific pages, like colorful blog posts and knowledgeable help center articles.

4. Chat topic

A simple pre-chat survey with closed-end questions has proven to be a safe and sufficient way to route chat requests. But how about companies that offer custom solutions, where context and personal needs are the very identities of a brand?

A classic questionnaire will bring you all the answers you need to provide the level of care your company strives for. The more your service is based on custom rules, the more information you need to provide the ideal service. This includes finding the right person for the job, where chat routing comes into play.

An amusing approach to exploring customers' needs is with a questionnaire hidden behind interactive automation. Chat bots add a relatable face to the series of questions you're bombarding customers with. They can bring joy to your audience by telling a funny story or turning questions into an interactive quiz. No matter how you automate the process, it's a great place to win positive feelings toward your brand.

So let your robots loose. Let them gather what they need, analyze, route chats, and put smiles on your customers' faces. Enjoy the sweet automation.

5. Receptionist

Some companies are so inclined to maintain a human touch with their audience that they employ human agents to route chats. Such an agent would basically work as a digital receptionist who gathers initial customer queries and decides which agents group would be best to handle them.

This solution is the most bulletproof of all, as a qualified human-filter always handles manual routing. But it potentially requires the most effort to set up, as you need to train the employee, schedule their work, and, obviously, pay them.

6. Queues, AKA manual routing

Manual routing is similar to the receptionist solution, but instead of having human filtering queries, visitors are put in queues. Agents can pick them up from a queue and converse at their own pace. Customers' queries and survey results are visible to agents, so they don't have to blind-pick each new chat.

Thanks to this solution, agents have direct control over their work. They personally manage the routing so they won't get flooded by chats at any point. They can pick conversations they are comfortable with and can really contribute to.

On the other hand, customers waiting in a queue may get bored and leave it prematurely. Keeping an eye on the response time statistics is crucial. If you're ok with micromanaging or have unshakable faith in your team, give it a shot!

Connect with customers

LiveChat is a complete customer service platform that delights your customers and fuels your sales.

Trusted by 36,000+ companies

Free 14-day trial

Why you should route incoming chat requests

In short, you'll make a good impression in the eyes of your website users. Immediately connecting people to the right chat agent will omit unnecessary transfers, queues, miscommunication, and general bad experiences.

People are accustomed to super fast service. Proper chat routing will remove all obstacles from their paths and ensure that specialized agents will provide the necessary help as soon as possible.

As a result, your visitors will face less stress and stay satisfied while interacting with your site. Good feelings are crucial in obtaining and keeping loyal customers.

4 chat routing quirks

1. Agents training tool

Ask any agent about their first chats, and they will surely mention how stressful they were. Thanks to live chat routing, you can limit the number of chats your rookie agents receive. Keep them at a minimum level, disable routing from more problematic sources (for example, developer queries, high-stake sales), and only allow chats that you know they can handle. Let them get accustomed to their new position under controlled conditions.

2. Useful analytics

That's right! Chat routing can become an integral part of your analytics. By default, routing options should allow you to group data by chat sources or departments and use them as filters in reports.

If you want to differentiate your chat sources and the numbers they bring, don't shy away from setting up routing just for that. It's often much faster than tagging and other filtering options you can find on the market.

3. Reverse assignment

When you implement a chat on your site, it usually starts with all agents getting included in the chat’s distribution. This setup may be called differently depending on the tool you're using, but you can expect names like "general rule" or "all agents".

In case you'd like to exclude someone from the distribution of chats, you can create an agents group that excludes the individual and routes chats from your site to that specific department. That's one of the easiest ways to keep someone out of the customer loop, but with access to the rest of the app, such as reports or archives.

4. Divide and rule

More robust companies often handle multiple businesses under their umbrella brand. Such a structure may cause issues with privileges and access between employees handling different products.

Again, chat routing comes to the rescue. It is usually accompanied by security measures preventing agents from accessing data from groups they are not a part of. One group won't be able to access archived chats, reports, or see active visitors placed under the careful care of another department.

LiveChat groups and routing rules

Like what you see? Great to hear! Because everything this article mentions can be achieved with LiveChat products! Check out all of the awesome customer engagement features you can benefit from and try them for free!

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