Live Chat at Its Worst

Offering live chat on websites can be a great way to connect with customers, but like most tools, it’s only as good as the people using it.

Take, for example, a recent experience I had with Home Depot where I decided to use the live chat feature to get answers to a few questions that should have been included in their product listings.

Clicking the live chat link brought up this screen, where I was told a “Specialist” would be with me shortly:

Home Depot Live Chat

I waited. And waited. Like a phone queue, it occasionally repeated the hold message for my reading pleasure. I don’t remember how long it was between messages, but it was at least a couple minutes.

Mind you, I wasn’t staring intently at this chat window, since there are plenty of other distractions on my computer to help kill time waiting for Home Depot to care about the $800 worth of stuff in my shopping cart.

Eventually, I toggled back over to find this message waiting for me:

Home Depot Live Chat

My “specialist” Dineshia decided that, after holding for probably 15 minutes, that I wasn’t really interested in chatting?

Why did this happen? My guess is that Dineshia’s performance is measured based on completed chats, and possibly how fast chats are completed. Had Dineshia simple waited for me to respond his or her stats would have been skewed (but I would have gotten my questions answered).

In my opinion, this is a horrible use of live chat since the cost of waiting for my response is near zero. Unlike a phone call, a chat support person can manage many simultaneous conversations so keeping my chat live in the background would have been a better option from a customer support perspective.

This was not a technical problem, but a poor use of technology.

Make sure your customer support incentives are aligned with your customer’s needs to avoid situations like this.

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