Announcing Freshchat’s Away Experience – set the right expectations with customers while you are away

(Spoiler alert! It’s not by turning off your chat widget)

 

Today, we’re announcing a better way to help you manage conversations that happen outside of your business hours. 

Here’s what led us to build this new Away Experience for you and your customers.

There’s so much talk about how businesses need to be available to customers when they need you. Knowing customers need round-the-clock attention, some businesses could feel pressured to be available 24×7. It’s quite easy to forget businesses are run by humans. And humans are not robots. They need downtime too.

Unless your business has multiple teams covering different shifts, more often than not you are left to play catch up with customers the next day. SMBs especially can feel overwhelmed by the volume of queries they find in their inbox once they open their shop, given most SMBs have smaller support teams in place. 

Over the last couple of quarters, there have been several of our customers who’ve asked us if they can turn off chat completely when they are offline, because they feel completely drained not being able to keep up with increasing chat volumes.

However, for us, turning off chat seemed counterintuitive to a great customer experience. For example, a returning customer would find it frustrating to not find the chat widget on which he had a conversation with you previously. The customer would also find it confusing when your chat widget is available and when it’s not. But at the same time, we were able to empathize with our customers in being overwhelmed with queries.

Hello? Anybody there?

Currently, when your customers reach out to you outside of business hours, one of the following three things could happen –

  1. A customer receives a Business Hours message stating you’re unavailable.
  2. Customer is engaged by our lead capturing bot.
  3. Or you do nothing, you just leave the customer hanging (please don’t do this!)

All of the above are not the best away experiences to give your customers. 

 

“Receiving an away message after a customer types a ‘Hey!’ can lead to a frustrating experience. It could not only shoo away customers once they realise you are offline, but also fill your inbox with a barrage of empty “Hey’s and Hello anybody there’s?” leaving your team with zero context the next morning.”

 

When customers land on your website and see a messenger, they will reach out to you thinking you’re online and we can’t blame them. They are not going to be thoughtful of timezones. So when they reach out to you, they expect quick responses. 

Receiving an away message after a customer types a ‘Hey!’ can lead to a frustrating experience. It could not only shoo away customers once they realize you are offline, but also fill your inbox with a barrage of empty “Hey’s and Hello anybody there’s?” (cue All by Myself by Eric Carmen) leaving your team with zero context the next morning. 

 

 

With the bot scenario, although bots help you capture leads while you are away, they kick in only after customers reach out to you. Which means customers reached out to you thinking you are available, but at best left you with their email. Again, no context to send better responses.

[Insert not-so subtle promo] – Watch out for our new AI powered Chatbot releasing later this quarter. Say hello to a chatbot that understand sales, support, and churn intent and gives your customers what they really need. Be the first to know.

The new Away Experience is a proactive way of telling customers you are unavailable and that you will respond when you are back online. It also reduces the number of ‘non-meaningful’ messages, enabling your team to better assist customers.

“But wait, how’s this different from a pre-chat form?”

Great question. A pre-chat form gates customers even when you’re online. The new Away Experience gates customers when you’re offline, which is what you want. You want to respond back only to customers who have genuine requests and queries.

Moreover, implementing a pre-chat form permanently takes away the benefits of our modern messaging experience. The new Away Experience is a ‘meet-in-the-middle’ solution that sets the right expectations with customers upfront while still helping your messenger remain familiar and asynchronous.

Manage Away conversations separately

When you resume business the next day, you’d want to focus on conversations from customers who are online currently. In order to do this, you can now create a new custom view to filter out ‘away’ conversations. This declutters your inbox making day-to-day work much more easier. ‘Cause we know that happiness is found in the little things, like a clutter-free inbox. All offline conversations are tagged with a ‘moon’, so agents will easily be able to eyeball and figure out which conversation happened outside of business hours. This will help them optimize their response accordingly. 

Alternatively, you can also ‘auto-resolve’ all Away conversations as tickets in Freshdesk. For more details on how to set up and configure your Away Experience, please visit our help center.

 

 

Try the Away Experience for free by signing up with Freshchat today.