14 Actionable Live Chat Metrics to Start Tracking Today

Live chat metrics help you understand your customers' experiences and ensure that your team feels confident and successful in their responses.

Knowing what you're measuring and setting benchmarks for your goals is essential to solidifying and growing your support strategy across channels.

Here are the 14 live chat metrics — broken out into cumulative metrics, conversation-level metrics, and agent-level metrics — that we recommend tracking.

Cumulative metrics

When measuring your live chat performance, measure at the overall, conversation, and individual agent levels. These cumulative metrics help you understand how your live chat is performing overall.

1. Total volume

Total volume is the total number of chats that come through to your team over a particular time frame. It includes missed and completed chats and should also reference any chat integrations.

While total volume is a great metric to understand how many chats you have overall, more granular metrics will tell a more insightful story. Information that comes from reviewing the content of the chats or the types of queries within the conversations helps you understand how the volume adds up.

For example, if you find you have a large number of chats around a specific topic, you may do well to create documentation or an FAQ addressing those questions and surface those instead.

2. Chats per day

The chats per day metric breaks down the total volume metric into how many conversations via chat you received each day of your business week. It helps you manage staffing volumes and understand when your customers or prospects are most active on your website.

3. Completed chats

A minor breakdown of "total volume," completed chats is the number of conversations that your team finished. Completion refers to being accepted by a chat support representative and marked as done by the representative or the customer.

If you have a large number for your total volume metric but only a tiny percentage of them are completed chats, that suggests a gap within your live chat strategy.

4. Missed chats

These are chat conversations that your team did not accept. Generally, this means that no one was available to take the chat when it came through, so it was moved to another channel. However, there may be other reasons why chats get missed.

If you notice that this number is getting high, it's a good idea to evaluate whether you need to staff more people or only present your chat windows at specific times.

Ideally, your number of missed chats would be zero. Missed chats are a lost opportunity to engage with your customers and may also be a letdown to your customers reaching out via that channel.

If you can't offer chat 100% of the time, consider adopting a live chat tool that makes it easy to route customers to other channels. For example, Help Scout's live chat tool, Beacon, is only presented as an option to your customers when someone is available to accept that chat.

5. Conversion rate

Conversion rate can refer to two separate metrics. The first one references the number of sales from your live chat responses, and the second is the number of website visitors that become chats.

Sales conversion

Chat doesn't just have to be a money sink, as some companies consider it. Many customers — approximately 38% — say that they have purchased after having a good live chat session.

When your team can provide in-the-moment assistance regarding presale inquiries, issues within the product, or even questions on the pricing page, you could end up converting more leads and contributing directly to your bottom line.

To calculate your sales conversion rates, track the total number of visitors who converted versus the total number of chats you had over the same period.

If you aren't currently incentivizing reps to push sales, this can still be a good baseline metric to understand. For instance, you could also track conversion around other business goals, like signing up for a newsletter or subscribing to your blog.

Tracking this metric is an excellent way to understand how your team performs when given a specific behavior with each conversation, such as recommending a product or another call to action.

Website-to-chat conversion

Your marketing site is one of the best ways for you to capture leads for your sales team. Implementing live chat is a huge opportunity to trigger personalized messages at critical times during the customer journey.

Proactive outreach on tricky pages or when a customer has lingered on your site longer than you'd expect can be a great way to guide passive viewers into your funnel.

To track this metric, identify the number of users who respond to passive outreach from either a chatbot or your chat support team. Helping your customers in real time cultivates a better customer and brand experience, and it’s even better when you can reach customers proactively.

6. Tags

The term “tags” can make some support professionals reflexively cringe a bit. However, tags are incredibly beneficial. They give you insight into the most common issues coming through to your support team and provide better focus for training or fixes within the product.

Use a tagging strategy that allows your live chat metrics to report on where the most pressing topics are.

For instance, if 25% of your tickets are about shipping times, 45% are about your account management page, and the other 30% are about various topics, it might suggest that you need to improve the documentation or the experience around shipping times and account management.

Like tags on email conversations, live chat tags are only as helpful as you make them. Try to keep your tag strategy simple and easy to use to ensure you get the best data out of it. The easier it is to mess up a tag, the worse your data will be.

Conversation-level metrics

While it's handy to have an overarching view of how chat is performing, it's equally helpful to understand how your live chat is performing at the conversation level. These will help you know what strategies you need to improve at a more micro level than those you look at cumulatively.

7. Wait time

To calculate this metric, average the time visitors waited between initiating the live chat and someone accepting or being assigned the conversation. In general, missed chats or chats that went directly to email will not count toward this metric.

When your customer sees that you've accepted a chat quickly, it starts the interaction off on a positive note. After all, no one wants to start a conversation looking at a ticking clock.

Measuring the wait time helps you understand if you need to offer more staff to the live chat queue or if your existing team is overburdened. If you notice that this live chat metric starts to skyrocket, it may be a good time to identify strategies to start shifting it back down.

Fixing the issue may look like providing more staff, changing how your current team handles chats, using more saved replies, or even just reducing the availability for your chat window.

8. Response time

Response time is the amount of time a live chat user spends waiting for your team to respond. You should only calculate this score after your team has sent its first response. If you haven't replied to your customers yet, you shouldn't calculate response times — that's wait time instead.

Once you start tracking this metric, it can incentivize poor behavior, so be cautious with how much emphasis you put on its importance.

For instance, imagine one of your team members says, "Okay, I'm going to go check on that. I'll be back in just a minute." Then your customer responds, "Great, thanks!" It may make your team member stress unnecessarily about saying something back so their response time doesn't skyrocket.

It’s better to focus on the quality of the response rather than how quickly it was sent.

In some cases this metric is helpful, but it can undoubtedly provide negative reinforcement if targeted too heavily.

9. Duration

This metric is the time it takes between a user connecting with your support team and either party ending the chat. Just like response time, it's another double-edged sword.

According to Forrester Research, 77% of consumers think that the most important thing a company can do while providing customer service is value their time. While this means that it's essential to take the customer seriously and ensure that you provide an in-depth answer to any questions they have, it also means that you might not want to take 20 minutes to resolve an issue.

If you notice that your average duration begins to creep up, see if you can identify any trends in the types of conversations that are dragging out. Are they primarily with users in your trials who are asking a lot of presale questions? Do they have more to do with specific areas of your product?

Use this data as a crumb trail to find the actual issue at hand rather than as a reflection of your live chat strategy.

10. Messages per chat

This metric considers the average number of messages sent within each individual chat session. Before using this metric as the top indicator of your team's success, consider the types of conversations that have heightened numbers of messages versus those that don't.

Like duration and response time, there are various explanations for why a chat may have tons of messages. For instance, someone might be new to your product and isn't sure about the best way to get started. Perhaps a customer is trying to update their subscription plan and your pricing page is a mess.

Rather than looking at this metric overall, consider segmenting it to understand more about the cause of the issue.

Agent-level metrics

Of course, while most metrics will be at the overall or conversation level, there should be a few that measure individual agent performance. While you can view many of these holistically, they are also significant indicators of individual performance.

11. Customer satisfaction score

Customer satisfaction score (CSAT) is one of the most popular customer experience metrics, so it should come as no surprise that it's on this list as well. Typically, you offer a CSAT survey after an interaction has occurred to gauge how satisfied the user was with the response they received.

Here's an example of what a CSAT survey might look like:

example customer service satisfaction survey example

CSAT is a helpful metric to have because it depicts how your customers receive your support reps and provides invaluable information about how new features and product changes are affecting them.

12. First contact resolution

A long-standing regular for email and phone support metrics, first contact resolution (FCR) can also be helpful as a live chat metric. It measures whether customers need to reach back out after an issue has been resolved for further help or follow-up.

FCR is important because, generally, the fewer times a customer has to reach out, the more satisfied they will be with their experience. However, it is more meaningful to look at FCR as a product of the complexity and technicality of the issue.

Try to segment your tickets based on complexity or topic to understand where your FCR may be affected. Also, consider FCR across multiple channels. For instance, it may be low on chat (excellent!) but higher via email — in that case, it's time to start considering which types of conversations come through each channel and where the volume could be shifted or deflected.

13. Length of wrap-up

After a support rep closes a ticket, there's always a bit of work they have to do afterward to make sure everything's tidy. If they escalate the conversation, for instance, they need to be sure they've added notes, tags, and anything else that may be helpful for the team receiving it.

It may be helpful to look at this metric if you notice that your team isn't getting through as many chats as they should. To calculate this, track the amount of time that it takes for your support reps to close one ticket and open up another.

If you start to notice it getting too long, it may be that you need to automate some of the processes and make it even easier to close out a ticket or transfer it to someone else.

14. Use of saved replies

Using saved replies helps save time and create a streamlined process for your customers. It also helps to ensure that you are always matching your brand's tone. Track the use of saved replies to understand how often your team uses them and which ones they are using most.

Suppose you notice that your team uses a specific saved reply more than others. In that case, it may signal that a change needs to occur within the product or that documentation should be written to deflect some conversations away from chat and your inbox.

Similarly, if you notice that some of your support reps are using tons of saved replies and some are using none, it's a great place to have a conversation.

Maybe those reps aren't familiar with the saved responses, don't know they exist, or aren't sure of the best use-cases for them. In that case, revisiting the process and the intention behind creating and using saved replies may save some time. It may also be that you just don't have the saved responses that they would find helpful.

No matter what, it's an excellent start to a learning and coaching conversation.

Use metrics to consistently improve live chat

You can't manage what you don't know. Pulling metrics for critical aspects of your live chat strategy helps your team keep track of how your live chat is performing and how the chats affect customers individually.

Remember, too many metrics will just cause a lack of focus from your team. Find a few key metrics that tell the story you're looking to understand, and focus on those. That way, you will guide your team's attention toward what is most important and impactful.

While it can be tempting to pay close attention to metrics like duration and response time, they can also reflect numbers that may not be the most relevant to your team’s growth. Find and measure the metrics that are meaningful to the overarching goals of your company and the support team within it.

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