When is chat not chat?


I am a big fan of chat as a customer care tool and put it into most every marketing communications plan I’ve ever written.  Frankly, it should be a litmus test for me to take an engagement.  It proves a company’s mettle for providing a good level of care. Chat is a big investment (in people) and when you do it, you need to do it right. 

Today, I used chat to get in touch with McAfee. My firewall had blocked Google Chrome. I’m sure I fat-fingered something or clicked yes when I meant no within an alert. Full disclosure, there was a button on the McAfee Firewall application that said “return to default settings” but I was too nervous to push it. (Had I pushed the button, it would have resolved my issue I found out.)

So I uploaded all the Citrix chat stuff, waited for progress bars, spoke to two levels of customer service people – the first one told me I would need to talk to a technical person and passed me on, duh – and found the whole experience to be a bit maddening. What irritated me the most was that I had a feeling the help people were juggling me. Finishing up with another call, while they were telling me “thank you for your patience” and “we are looking up your records.” Chat is great when it’s chat.  But it’s not great when its juggled chat or attenuated chat. 

The user experience in customer care can be viewed as an expense or an investment. It should be viewed as the latter, viewed as a brand touch. Starting every sentence with my name may be a nice trick and may improve survey metrics, but it doesn’t move customer care ball ahead.  If you are going to call it chat, chat. Maybe that’s why they don’t label it instant messaging?  Peace!