Making the Live Chat experience even better

As the Live Chat community on SUMO (support.mozilla.com) continues to grow, we are working on ways to make the experience even better for Firefox users and for our community members. Live Chat allows us to chat directly with users of Firefox, troubleshooting problems and helping users get the most out of their browser. Our community has been doing a fantastic job over the past few months, handling between 600 and 1000 chat sessions each week. We’re really grateful to everyone who has helped us out, as well as to the numerous community members who have shared ideas for making SUMO even better. As we get ready for Firefox 3.5, we’re working on ways to make Live Chat even more rewarding for both users and for our community.

Last year, we started asking users about their experience when asking a question in either Live Chat or the Support Forum. Each week, approximately half of users who respond say that a chat session already fixed their problem, while another 10% indicate that they will follow up later. The remaining 40% indicate that their problem was not resolved, so we ask these users why we weren’t able to solve their problems. The reasons users pick are graphed below from week to week, along with the people who have solved their problem or will follow up.

Consistently, the top reasons for problems not getting solved have been chat sessions ending early and cases where the helper “was not responding”. Reducing the number of unsolved cases has been a top priority for improving the Live Chat experience. As a result, the SUMO 1.1 release (scheduled for Tuesday, June 2) will fix two bugs that are causing some users to disconnect early, and the next release will focus on allowing users to follow up after a chat session more efficiently. While a user may leave Live Chat before solving an issue, such as to restart Firefox, we want to keep tracking each user via the Support Forum until the issue is resolved. Since only about 10% of users respond that they are using the option to follow up, we also want to make this feature easier to find and use. If we can increase the number of users following up, we will increase the number of people who eventually solve their problem, as well as reduce the need to stay online for lengthy chat sessions.

Looking further ahead, we are developing a web client for Live Chat that will allow community members to participate in Live Chat from anywhere with Firefox. Our goals for the web client include streamlining the process of getting help once a chat session ends, which will increase the number of users we are able to successfully help. We’re also asking the community what we’re doing well and how we can make Firefox Support even more rewarding in a survey that we’re wrapping up next week. Thanks to everyone that has provided feedback and ideas so far! (Thanks especially to Ricardo (ricmacas) for sharing great ideas and design concepts for the Live Chat web client!)

If you’re looking for a way to get more involved with the Mozilla community and enjoy troubleshooting or assisting users, you should consider helping with Firefox Support! Check out the top ways you can make a difference by helping with SUMO. If you have more ideas on how we can make Mozilla Support even more effective and rewarding, we’d love to read your comments on this blog, on our mailing list, or in the Contributors forum.

6 thoughts on “Making the Live Chat experience even better

  1. Justin Dolske

    The ~1/8 wedge for “helper not responding” seems most worrysome. Is this due to a bug, or are we really opening up chat connections with no one on the other end to help them? Or does it mean something else (eg queue wait times too long)?

  2. Matthew Middleton Post author

    There was a bug that was fixed earlier this month (492086) that resulted in some users joining live chat but never be connected to an agent. Another disconnection bug (475219) will be fixed in the release next Tuesday. A week-by-week graph of this data is available at: https://zzxc.net/sumo/csat-may2009.png

    Some users end the chat early if it’s taking the helper too long to respond, which seems to be the source of a lot of these responses. I looked through the chat logs for “Agent was not responding” responses in the past two months, and 52/179 seemed to have a technical issue. (The number of chats dropped for technical reasons should go down after SUMO 1.1 is pushed.) The remainder were cases where the user gave up on waiting for the agent to respond, or where the user had forgotten that the chat was open and tried to respond hours later.

    Some of the development going into the webchat client should help in the latter two cases. Audio notifications (with for Firefox 3.5+) will let users and helpers know when a reply is needed, and streamlined transfers will let a user take a question to the forum if live chat is taking too long. The web client PRD, linked in the blog post, has more details on ideas we’re incorporating into it.

  3. Leo McArdle (leo/leo_)

    One reason that some users leave is because (some of them) are very impatient. One user I was helping needed an add-on to do what s/he wanted to do. I told the user that I was going to look for an add-on for them. Another user came out of being non responsive and so I started to help them I then got the add-on and… the user had said, “hello, hello anyone there” and s/he then left! I think what should really be pointed out to the people we’re helping is that we are volunteers, we don’t get paid, we are providing this for free and we are helping multiple users at the same time. But on that note of helping multiple users at the same time, the only reason (I think) that we don’t get flooded BIG TIME is that zzxc can take soooo many chats at once. Thanks zzxc.

  4. Mary

    I know that there is so much problems related online chat.The person who leave the chat room you can’t know about he/she is leaving the chat room or not.Many of the problems are solved but i don’t think so.

  5. chat

    Looking further ahead, we are developing a web client for Live Chat that will allow community members to participate in Live Chat from anywhere with Firefox. İt is very interesting but good thanks you

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