Principles for the official use of Click-to-Chat as a channel

Principle

Final | June 2018 | v1.0.0 | PUBLIC | Housing and Public Works


Principles at a glance

  1. Services are delivered through the most appropriate channel for that service
  2. Customer-centric approach to be used
  3. Customer expectations will be managed and responses need to be timely
  4. Click-to-chat responses need to be personalised
  5. Click-to-chat activities will be conducted by staff who have completed appropriate training
  6. All activities related to Click-to-chat will make all reasonable attempts to consider accessibility
  7. Click-to-chat activities are to be conducted in a transparent manner
  8. Click-to-chat service support should be aligned with service goals
  9. Click-to-chat conversations are considered official government correspondence and is subject to relevant recordkeeping policy and procedures
  10. Customers should be able to request a copy of their Click-to-chat conversation
  11. Customer guidelines/Rules of engagement
  12. Security protocols should be adhered to when managing Click-to-chat interactions
  13. Risk assessment should be undertaken prior to implementation of Click-to-chat
  14. Effectiveness of Click-to-chat service delivery should be monitored to identify potential improvements
  15. Performance targets and customer satisfaction metrics should be established to measure Click-to-chat performance

Background

With the increase in digital take up, governments are responding and expanding existing channel options to remove barriers to entry and offering real-time support. The Click-to-chat channel provides customers with access, convenience, clarity and consistency of service delivery. Almost 80% of customers prefer Click-to-chat because their questions get answered quickly and more than 40% use Click-to-chat because wait time is a key factor in chatting with a customer service representative[1].

The usage of a Click-to-chat channel presents an opportunity for the Queensland Government to augment its traditional communication methods and support customers to remain within the digital channel whilst addressing their queries more effectively and efficiently.

The implementation of a Click-to-chat service should support a seamless customer experience, helping customers at their moment of need on their device choice, while quietly traversing the complexities of government in the background This principles document provides best practice guidance on what agencies who currently use or plan to use Click-to-chat should be doing when interacting with customers via this channel to ensure improved customer experience and a more consistent service experience.

The benefits a Click-to-chat service could provide to Queensland Government are:

  • insight to continuous service delivery improvement
  • understanding of how customers want to talk to government
  • ability to provide on the spot assistance
  • customer satisfaction through consistent service delivery
  • broader reach to target audience
  • reduction in duplication of effort
  • customer satisfaction and trust in government
  • effective management of complex and joined up queries
  • increased quality of customer transaction
  • fast response
  • channel swapping reduction
  • phone and counter usage reduction.

This aligns with the government’s broader digital transformation agenda and its ‘digital first’ approach where customers will have access to Queensland Government information anytime and anywhere, on any device.

A Queensland Government Channel Management Strategy has also been developed to support the delivery of efficient and effective customer centric channels. Click to-Chat will help customers who engage with government in a discrete and personalised manner to receive timely, accurate and relevant information and services.

The DIGITAL1ST strategy helps drive the delivery of effective customer focused digital services by using customer insight to improve the customer experience of government services; strengthening our digital economy through encouraging greater development and uptake of digital services; and by making data more accessible, visible and available for customers, through the open data initiative.

As agencies consider alternative, new service delivery channels as mechanisms to streamline and innovate service delivery, it is timely for the Queensland Government to provide some guidance on a consistent approach to official usage of the Click-to-chat channel for those agencies that are currently using, or planning on using a chat tool. The principles are designed to be flexible yet provide a professional, friendly and consistent experience for Queenslanders wishing to interact with the state government through the Click-to-chat channel.

Purpose

This document asserts the guiding principles for supporting a consistent Queensland Government approach to implementing Click-to-chat to support service delivery by:

  • making it more simple and convenient for customers to engage with the state government
  • making it more consistent across government
  • informing government of access to voice of the customer, sentiment, language, service information, improvement information, geo-location information, issue and velocity of information based on rich data from chat transcripts
  • guiding the continuous improvement of service design and transactions.

Audience

This document is primarily intended for:

  • project managers
  • service designers
  • customer engagement managers
  • Click-to-chat operators, Customer Service Agents (CSAs) and customer service staff
  • communications and marketing managers.

Applicability

This principles document applies to all Queensland Government departments and entities including statutory bodies (where relevant in accordance with their legislation).

Scope

This document provides guidance on the official use of Click-to-chat as a channel for those agencies that currently use or plan to use Click-to-chat.

It applies to all Queensland Government departments and its adoption by other Queensland Government entities is encouraged.

References to the Queensland Government website www.qld.gov.au includes all franchises including Business and Industry Portal (BIP) www.business.qld.gov.au.

Principles for the official use of Click-to-chat as a channel

Customer experience

Services are delivered through the most appropriate channel for that service

Rationale
  • Not all services are suitable for delivery across each and every channel. It’s important to ensure the appropriate channel/s are chosen to deliver the service to ensure the best outcome for the customer and the agency delivering the service.
Implications
  • The information provided in a particular way may not be suitable for delivery via that channel.
  • The customer may not receive the best experience.
  • It’s important to note when deciding what channels are best suited to deliver the services, customer preference should also be considered and choice offered to complete the service.
  • It is also important to note that Click-to-chat is not a standalone channel, it is a ‘nudge’ or ‘support’ channel that complements other channels by allowing customers to ask questions about the service they seek so they can make an informed decision.
  • Refer to ‘Attachment 1 – Channel choice guidelines in the Queensland Government Channel management strategy’ to assist in determining the suitability of the channel for the services to be delivered.

Customer-centric approach to be used

Rationale
  • The Queensland Government customer-centric approach to service delivery should be used when providing service support via Click-to-chat.
Implications
  • The service support via the Click-to-chat channel should be managed according to the four customer experience principles listed in the Customer experience strategy.
  • Click-to-chat should not replace other official channels but complement them. Click-to-chat content should align with that available through other official channels.
  • The Click-to-chat channel should be customer-centric and form part of an cross-channel/omni-channel service delivery to create a unified experience across channels and services, that enables customer transactions to be started in one channel and completed in others.
  • Interactions with customers should follow Customer Experience standards and conform to agency complaint management protocols.

Customer expectations will be managed and responses need to be timely

Rationale
  • There are practical resourcing limitations imposed upon Click-to-chat staff that limit the manner in which they can operate effectively to meet the expectations of customers. It is important for customers to be aware of the process and receive assurance of a resolution to their query, so that their expectations can be managed, in order to ensure reasonable customer satisfaction levels.
  • Customers contacting the Queensland Government via Click-to-chat have an expectation that their queries will be addressed in a timely fashion. Clear communication of the response times should be provided to customers to manage their expectations.
Implications
  • Operational hours should be readily available and clearly communicated to customers so that they can manage their expectations on response times.
  • Click-to-chat queries should be addressed as soon as possible.
  • Customers should be given an option to provide their contact details and indicate their preferred channel of communication for non-urgent queries.
  • Customers should be kept informed about the query resolution process (clearly indicating actions to be taken and the timeframes) whenever possible.
  • Agencies should consider resourcing levels to accommodate customer queries in a responsive and timely manner.
  • Agencies should consider the use of chat tools and automated chat capabilities to support the chat channel and help manage response times and resourcing levels as appropriate. Consideration should be given to who these could augment the offering without compromising the customer experience.
  • Industry standards, agreed performance measures, chat analytics and customer feedback should be reviewed periodically to ensure operational hours and response times match the needs of the customers.

Click-to-chat responses need to be personalised

Rationale
  • Responses to Click-to-chat should be personalised.
Implications
  • Responses to customer queries via Click-to-chat should be provided in a friendly tone that is easy to understand.
  • Queries should be addressed with responses written in plain, simple, clear language.
  • When acknowledging a customer’s communication, the use of canned or repetitive responses should be avoided wherever possible.
  • Personalised acknowledgements outlining the request or comment and assurance of action within an appropriate timeframe should be supplied.
  • When interacting with a customer, staff should use their first name to identify themselves where possible, staff will take all other precautions to protect their own privacy and will never disclose their full names or the names of their colleagues. If first names are not practical, initials or alternative names could also be used (in a consistent manner) or reasonable exemptions made.
  • After resolving a query, customers should be asked whether they require further help with anything else and obtain a confirmation that customer needs have been addressed prior to ending the chat session.

Click-to-chat activities will be conducted by staff who have completed appropriate training

Rationale
  • The professional application of Click-to-chat for interactions with customers is an important capability that requires training and experience to deliver quality service and a positive experience for the customer.
Implications
  • Customers may access government services via a variety of channels. Using appropriately skilled staff per channel provides a consistent and professional experience each time a customer interacts with government.
  • Staff should be trained to provide consistent and positive service experience to customers. All staff interacting with customers via Click-to-chat would benefit from completing the Queensland Government Customer experience training. Staff should also be aware of any departmental corporate communications protocols and relevant legislation such as the Code of Conduct as stated in the Public Sector Ethics Act 1994 and relevant privacy principles and other legislation such as the privacy principles prescribed in the Information Privacy Act 2009.
  • All relevant staff should complete specific training pertinent to the Click-to-chat tool/software that is being used to deliver the service.
  • Depending on the individual roles, staff should be skilled in areas such as how to interact with customers online, how to open and close conversations, conversation triage, transfer to experts/agencies, shortcuts, tagging, widget and form customisation, extracting and interpreting chat analytics, recordkeeping and archiving, creating departments and teams, and other areas as needed.
  • Click-to-chat staff need to stay current with industry standards. These standards should be applied to conversation analytics, performance reporting and strategic direction as applicable.
  • Click-to-chat staff should ensure that all appropriate privacy confidentiality, copyright and other legislative considerations are met as they apply to the use of Click-to-chat.
  • Click-to-chat staff should endeavour to conduct themselves professionally at all times and attempt to use correct grammar and spelling when responding to queries.

All activities related to Click-to-chat will make all reasonable attempts to consider accessibility

Rationale
  • While Click-to-chat has been adopted by numerous companies and is easy to operate for the public, some existing and potential Queensland Government customers may be constrained by:
    • lack of access to a suitable computer or mobile device
    • inadequate skills to operate a suitable computer or mobile device
    • lack of access to a reliable internet connection
    • inability to send urgent queries within business hours
    • inability to provide timely replies during chat
    • no email address provided for responses to non-urgent queries
    • limited data available on mobile devices
    • lack of knowledge of the Click-to-chat channel for interaction with government
    • Click-to-chat option not available for all services and webpages
    • lack of conformance of Click-to-chat platform with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0.
Implications
  • In order to avoid discrimination no specific message or information should be solely disseminated or contained on the Click-to-chat channel.
  • Customers should be referred to other channels if appropriate and available or requested by the customer.
  • The Click-to-chat platform should be responsive. The chat widget should be customised to make it easy to find at appropriate screen resolutions and displays with an automatic greeting message, encouraging customers to start a chat.

Click-to-chat activities are to be conducted in a transparent manner

Rationale
  • Conducting activities via Click-to-chat in a fully transparent manner in line with the Queensland public service Code of Conduct and relevant legislation such as the Information Privacy Act 2009, promotes government accountability and public trust. Information security is a necessary part of addressing customer queries via online chat and agencies should refer to the Information Security policy (IS18:2018) which is the Queensland Government’s general policy approach to information security and is relevant to all information and information and communication technology (ICT).
Implications
  • Data should be anonymised and encrypted at rest and in transit.
  • In line with the Information Privacy Act 2009, the Public Records Act 2002 and the Code of Conduct, personal information provided by customers via the Click-to-chat channel must not be used for the purpose other than that for which it was collected or disclosed to a third party unless the agency can satisfy one of the permitted exceptions in the Information Privacy Act 2009. Conversation transcripts should be archived in accordance with the agency recordkeeping policy.
  • Transcripts should be provided to customers on request, and should be retained according to the agency’s recordkeeping policy.
  • An agency’s Click-to-chat solution should enable differing and appropriate access permissions for staff user accounts.
  • When interacting with a customer, employees should take reasonable precautions to protect their own privacy and will never disclose their full names or the names or personal details of their colleagues. If first names are not practical, initials or alternative names may be used (in a consistent manner) or reasonable exemptions made. (Also refer to Section ‘Click-to-chat responses need to be personalised’)

Click-to-chat service support should be aligned with service goals

Rationale
  • The Click-to-chat channel should only be offered where it aligns with the strategic or operational goals of the organisation and is an appropriate channel for delivering the service.
Implications
  • Both customer needs and business goals should be taken into consideration when establishing Click-to-chat channel for relevant services.
  • Regardless of an agency’s chosen Click-to-chat platform there will be a requirement for specific resourcing and development of bespoke policies to accommodate the nature of the platform and ensure alignment with and delivery against service goals and agency operational activity.

Click-to-chat conversations are considered official government correspondence and is subject to relevant recordkeeping policy and procedures

Rationale
  • Click-to-chat is recognised as an official government communication channel and messages or correspondence received through any form of chats, contextual feedback forms and emails should be considered public records and managed according to the Public Records Act 2002.
Implications
  • Messages received through the Click-to-chat channel are subject to the same protocols as that of any other public record by the Queensland Government and should be captured and managed in accordance with the Information Privacy Act 2009, Right to Information Act 2009 Public Records Act 2002 and the associated QGEA Records governance policy and implementation guideline.
  • Due to the nature of customer support interactions and activities using a Click-to-chat channel, there is no ‘one size fits all’ recordkeeping advice or solution to implement across all of government. Each agency will have different recordkeeping obligations in relation to content or Click-to-chat conversations and subsequent retention and archiving obligations.
  • Chat conversation transcripts should be captured and stored in agency recordkeeping systems for both retention and future access. Agencies should develop a business classification scheme and retention and disposal schedule along with a risk assessment to decide which chat conversation transcripts to capture and retain and for how long to retain them.
  • Complaints received through the Click-to-chat channel will be handled in accordance to the appropriate agency complaints management policy. This is also true for any complaints received from customers through another channel during interactions initiated via Click-to-chat.
  • The privacy principles require that an agency must take all reasonable steps to make customers generally aware of the purpose for which their personal information is being collected. Any law that allows or requires the collection and any entity to whom, it is the agency’s usual practice to provide the information as a collection or privacy notice which can be incorporated into the agency disclaimer or customer guidelines.
  • Agencies should develop a disclaimer to advise customers how the Queensland Government manages customer interactions via the Click-to-chat channel, including transcript storage, the process for obtaining a chat transcript, operational hours, availability of other channels, and others. This disclaimer should be hosted on the official website which provides customers with the option to use Click-to-chat for relevant services.
  • More information relating to the management of Click-to-chat records can be found at www.archives.qld.gov.au.

Customers should be able to request a copy of their Click-to-chat conversation

Rationale
  • Similar to the Queensland Government call centre, a customer should be able to request and obtain a copy of their Click-to-chat conversation for their personal record.
Implications
  • Agencies should implement a process for customers to request and obtain a copy of their Click-to-chat conversation.
  • The ability for a customer to download a copy of their transcript should be included as a business requirement for platform procurement.

Customer guidelines/Rules of engagement

Rationale
  • Click-to-chat conversations contain customer-submitted content and are therefore required to be managed in accordance with appropriate customer guidelines for behaviour, service delivery standards and content. These customer guidelines should provide ground rules for Click-to-chat service delivery and help frame customer expectations. Effective guidelines should discourage anti-social, irrelevant, offensive, spam and/or inappropriate commercial messages, as well as foster a constructive online environment between the customer and government.
Implications
  • Agencies need to develop customer guidelines which should be well-structured, contextual for the Click-to-chat platform in use, short in length and written in plain language.
  • The guidelines should be robust enough that they can be easily referenced in the event of offensive messages or anti-social behaviour by the customer. Similar to the phone channel, threatening, offensive, abusive or demeaning language will not be tolerated and may result in the Click-to-chat session being terminated without being resolved.
  • The customer guidelines should be made accessible to the customer when the customer is accessing the Click-to-chat channel.
  • The customer guidelines should assist in setting up user expectations about what should or should not be submitted to an agency when the customer is interacting via the Click-to-chat channel, and also specify when the government will not accept and/or remove customer-submitted content and data, as well as ban a customer if appropriate. For example, it would not be advised for a customer to supply sensitive information such as their credit card details, specific health or ailment related information, specific details about a crime or detailed information about another person. The guidelines should also include information on the provision of identification and verification requirements.

Security protocols should be adhered to when managing Click-to-chat interactions

Rationale
  • Click-to-chat interactions may present security risks if appropriate security protocols are not in place.
Implications
  • Direct access to any government Click-to-chat tool/software should be restricted to a limited number of Click-to-chat staff.
  • Agencies should establish a central register of official Click-to-chat staff accounts detailing:
    • the account’s purpose (e.g. System Administrator, CSA, view only etc)
    • the agency/business area the account belongs to
    • officer/-s authorised to access the account (if more than one, each individual staff member should be listed)
  • All computers and devices that access Click-to-chat tool/software should be regularly maintained and updated with regards to:
    • the operating system, including any security patches and updates
    • any software such as Java and Adobe Flash
    • all major internet browsers
    • a security suite.
  • These computers and devices should be password protected to prevent unauthorised access.
  • Devices that can be lost or stolen (phones, tablets, laptops) should have remote tracking and wiping software installed where possible.
  • Click-to-chat account holders should only be able to access conversations triaged to their agency or business area. Click-to-chat account holders should not be able to view or respond to chat messages triaged to other areas.
  • Click-to-chat account holder’s email accounts that are linked to a Click-to-chat tool/software should be official email accounts controlled by the agencies.
  • Click-to-chat staff accounts should never be accessed using “kiosks” or other untrusted shared devices.
  • Click-to Chat should be used as an information service only for non-authenticated interactions and not for services that require level 2 identity verification and issuance of licences or permits.
  • If level 2 identity authentication and verification is required using Click-to-chat then fit-for-purpose ‘evidence of identity’ capability and providers will need to be implemented. Agencies are able to use the Queensland Government’s Customer Identity Management (CIDM) which is based on Queensland Government Authentication Framework (QGAF) and aligned to the Federated identity blueprint for identity authentication and verification.
  • Risk assessment should be undertaken prior to implementation of Click-to-chat.

Risk assessment should be undertaken prior to implementation of Click-to-chat

Rationale
  • The use of Click-to-chat can expose the Queensland Government to risks and compromise compliance with policy and legislation. Prior to the establishment of Click-to-chat, agencies should conduct risk assessments, ensure appropriate documentation of requirements are in place and mitigating actions established.
  • There are a number of risk areas that need to be managed during the Click-to-chat channel by the Queensland Government, such as:
    • customer privacy infringement
    • inadvertently compromising compliance with legislation
    • staff using Click-to-chat accounts inappropriately either with malicious intent or inadvertently through miscommunication
    • malicious attack.
Implications
  • It is the responsibility of the agency to ensure that mitigation is in place, or that the risks are acceptable. Risk assessment of Click-to-chat activities need to be undertaken and reviewed regularly, especially as new services and business areas are supported, government activities change or external events dictate.
  • While there can never be a complete mitigation of risk due to unforeseeable events, the majority of risk can be mitigated by using appropriately trained and skilled staff, following security protocols and adopting a robust moderation and management approach.
  • When setting up a Click-to-chat platform, an emergency scenario should be considered within the risk planning and resourcing. An emergency response plan should be prepared in the initial planning stages.
  • Agencies need to ensure appropriate contractual arrangements are in place to reduce associated risks. Refer to QGCIO’s ICT-as-a-service decision framework which provides criteria and guidance to assist an agency to determine suitability for cloud delivery via a risk assessment.
  • It is also recommended that a Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) be completed to identify and mitigate the privacy risks.

Effectiveness of Click-to-chat service delivery should be monitored to identify potential improvements

Rationale
  • The success of Click-to-chat is only partly dependent on the selected platform. No matter which platform is used, all relevant agencies are responsible for shaping an effective strategy. In order to understand how customers want to interact, continuous review and modification of approach is required.
Implications
  • Analytics on all data related to Click-to-chat should be reviewed and collated to identify success and failure patterns. This includes, but is not limited to, data on missed and served chats, chat sources, chat durations, response times, performance and satisfaction rates.
  • Participating agencies should retrieve and monitor analytics on a regular basis to identify trends and opportunities to engage more effectively with customers.
  • Changes/upgrades within the selected platform need to be monitored to identify any possible impacts on customer experience.

Performance targets and customer satisfaction metrics should be established to measure Click-to-chat performance

Rationale
  • Success measures should be developed at both whole of government and agency levels to measure the effectiveness of Click-to-chat.
Implications
  • Agency-specific targets and success measures should be identified prior to launching Click-to-chat and used to measure success. If appropriate, some of the measures should be used at the whole of government level.
  • Quality control and performance should be conducted on a regular basis to ensure repeated positive customer experiences and avoidance of negative experiences.
  • Three types of metrics that should be considered when establishing the metrics including: chat data; agent data; and pages that get most chats.
  • These metrics would be developed on a service-by-service basis and might be different agency to agency. Chat data and agent data might be qualitative and quantitate, based on sentiment and business rules (e.g. customer used specific words in their chat and got redirected to specialist CSAs). It could also be based on geospatial parameters, device type and time to respond.
  • Agencies should apply appropriate analytics to the page where the Click-to-chat option appears to identify how many customers initiate chats from which pages. To do this, agencies are advised to implement an analytics platform such as Google Analytics 360. Contact the Channel Improvement team on online@qld.gov.au to discuss your measurement requirements. It is also recommended that agencies consider the ability to perform analysis on the conversations themselves through the measurement tools within the product/platform selected.
  • In alignment with Queensland Government Customer Experience principles, customers should be encouraged to submit customer satisfaction surveys. Where possible a short survey at the end of the chat asking customers whether their enquiry was resolved, whether they were satisfied with the service and if they had any feedback on how the service could be improved. The survey results should serve as one of the customer satisfaction metrics.

Review

The Click-to-chat principles should be reviewed annually with input from all Queensland Government agencies and entities, including Franchise Teams.


[1] 8 essential live chat customer support statistics, January 2016, www.business2community.com


Last Reviewed: 18 July 2018

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