No longer the antithesis of working hard, online chat has become an integral part of core business processes in some organisations.
Across both the public and private sectors there is a trend toward online chat as a valid business tool, particularly in call centre environments. By using online chat to supplement traditional information sources such as intranets and training folders, staff are provided with answers to specific problems and questions and access to specific staff in real-time.
Online chat can be used to:
- to leverage the collective knowledge resources and research capability of the team
- as a training and management tool
- to contact remote staff who are unable to respond to a phone call
- for staff socialisation.
This article explores the use of online chat in business and describes a case study of the use of instant messaging within a national enquiry centre for a government department that fields calls from the public across Australia.
What’s all the chatter about?
Online chat is a text-based communication tool. Whereas email is to an electronic version of sending letters through the post, online chat is more like having a conversation with one or more people. Information is passed in real time and users can see whether others are available to chat. By setting their status as ‘available’, ‘away’, ‘on a break’ etc, users signal their availability to others. It is relatively unobtrusive and, unlike a telephone call, users are not forced to respond immediately.
Online chat supports both one-to-one and one-to-many relationships and communities. Users can have several chat sessions going at one time with different individuals and groups. Typically within the call centre environment there is one team chat session that is open all day running alongside one-to-one sessions.
[July KM Column by Cairo Walker, read the full article]