Adding flexibility to Live Chat operating hours

Live Chat allows Mozilla community members to connect in real-time to a Firefox user seeking help.  We currently set three to four hours per day, based on community input, during which both volunteers wanting to provide help and users with questions are encouraged to come online.  Around 20 people per week usually help out each week, during which between 500 and 800 users are able to chat.

The system of setting aside official hours works well, as we are able to make sure experienced helpers are available during those times in order to help newer contributors and assist with questions that we don’t have documented solutions for yet.  Many users and contributors want to chat outside these rigid hours, so we want to allow users to chat anytime an experienced helper wants to help.

By showing users the current status of the chat queue and how many helpers are available, we can make sure more users who need personal support can get it.  When the expected wait time is high, users who would rather receive a reply by e-mail will be encouraged to ask a question using the support forum.  Volunteers can limit the number of chats they accept, and the queue status will be updated once the question limit is reached.

Queue status example

Queue status example, Live Chat full

We will still specify official hours for Live Chat, so that both users and new contributors can plan to come online when experienced helpers are usually going to be online.  The added flexibility will let questions be asked at other times, as long as enough contributors are online to help.

If you’re looking for a way to get involved with the SUMO project by helping Firefox users and other volunteers, we’d love to have you in the Live Chat community.  It only takes a few minutes to get started!

One thought on “Adding flexibility to Live Chat operating hours

  1. Ricardo Maçãs [ricmacas]

    I love the idea. Please implement it ;)
    Could we also have a sorry message, like:

    ” We’re closed,
    Sorry, we are supposed to be open but we arent able to help at this time”

    I don’t know if its useful, but if people come in, on purpose, at the hours of operation and dont find any support its polite to say that we’re sorry ;).

    This message would be displayed when we should be opened but we arent, like sumobot tells us.

    Other possibility would be to show an alternative message to “We’re closed”, For weekends, holidays and other occasions:

    [linked words are marked like this]

    ” We’re closed
    Live chat doesnt operate on weekends or holidays. Check our [after hours policy] or return during our [hours of operation] “

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