Why I Loved Doing Live-Chat at Automattic

Everyone who joins Automattic starts with a three-week support rotation on WordPress.com. Including everyone at WooThemes now that our company has joined the team. The past three weeks I was on rotation.

I could talk a lot about why I think this initial rotation (that is repeated annually) is great, but in this post, I want to focus on my first experience with live-chats. The second half of our support rotation consists of replying to questions from paying and new users on WordPress.com who’ve opened a chat window and started sharing us their struggles.

Every single one of our team is pretty nervous about live-chats. Most of us have never done it and it’s pretty intimidating: people can ask us questions about a system that we’re still getting to know ourselves. What if we can’t help them straight away? Or even worse: what if we don’t know the answer?

Those considerations vanished fast, though, for the following reasons.

Immediate Clarification

Doing support can be frustrating for several reasons, but the biggest one for me is a lack of understanding. Some users are not able to properly explain what the problem is, which I cannot blame them for; it can be quite technical or confusing to understand what the problem is. With email, it can easily take up to four back-and-forth interactions in order to finally understand. It’s frustrating for both the user and the happiness engineer that it takes so long.

With live-chat it takes a whole lot less time; if the user stays online it might still take the same amount of interactions, but they can easily happen within 10 minutes. And it is incredibly nice to understand and to be understood so fast.

Continuous Closure

It’s also nice that once you finish a chat, the chat is done (in almost all cases). While with e-mails interactions can go on for days and even weeks; with a live-chat, when you log out at the end of the day, the work is done.

It’s very relaxing to not have to worry about pending e-mails and if you’re product-oriented, like me, crunching those numbers is very rewarding.

Tons of Fun

With e-mail interaction, it is quite challenging to read users. What is their tone? What is their personality? Do they like a good laugh?

With live-chat, you get a much faster interaction and that makes it a lot easier to grasp some of the personality of the person on the other side. The result of that was that my interactions in live-chat often had some goofing around, which was appreciated by users and me alike.

Increased Happiness

A fourth aspect is that all of the above results in more happiness. Customers and users are happier because they feel understood, have faster replies and love interacting to a real person.

But also for our team, it is nicer. We also feel better understood, we like that we can straight away ask for clarification and that we can have more fun.

In sum, live-chat increases our job satisfaction and that makes a massive difference in doing this work. It even resulted in me being slightly sad to have to go back to my regular tasks. Only slightly though …


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