Categories: Discussions Live Chat

Suggestions and improvements for Live Chat

With SUMO, we make it a practice to regularly reevaluate what we’re doing well, and what we still need to improve on.  We’ve made some changes to the Live Chat software in the last little while, like playing with the max number of chats a helper can take, and changing how long a user can wait in the queue. We think these changes have helped things along, but it’s time to dig in and see what else we can do to make Live Chat a smoother experience for our users, but especially for our invaluable volunteers.

Have you been helping out with Live Chat on Firefox Support (SUMO) lately? If so, we’d love to hear your thoughts on what obstacles we should look at tackling next in making Live Chat easier to use. Was there anything in the process you found hard to grasp, or were there things you simply found annoying? Is our hands on training approach enough, or should we have more documents about how to help with Live Chat? Are there particular improvements to the software we should focus on?

One problem we’ve been working on finding a solution to has been providing our helpers with a way to coordinate with each other. Obviously no one wants to open alone, but people also want to come around when they’re needed. This is especially important for us to solve as our official hours don’t work for everyone who’d like to help. At first, a public calendar seems like a good way to achieve this, but I think that solution falls short in a few key ways:

  • Calendars are geared towards single events occuring in a set time; views break the more overlap there is
  • Calendars don’t restrict people to only edit their own events
  • Using multiple calendars requires everyone to be aware of and subscribed to everyone else’s calendar
  • Calendars don’t let us specify when and how many people we’d like to have for “official” shifts

For our purposes, I believe we need something that makes it easier to specify how many people we’d like on at once. I also think we need something geared more towards multiple users at one time. I’ve done some research and I believe room scheduling software, like a university would use to schedule lab time or equipment, could work really well for us.

  • We would create “Rooms” that would be our slots for people to block off the times they’d like to participate
  • The slots can indicate our desired coverage and, being columns, or rows, makes it easy to see at a glance if we have it
  • Allows us to have slots for Room Monitors, again, making it easy to see at a glance when one is available or needed
  • Many of the available software will output the schedule as text, allowing us to display it on a SUMO page

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this suggestion – do you know of great software that would be perfect for us, or are there any other needs for coordinating hours that I’ve over looked? – or any other suggestions for what you think we should work on next.

And as always thanks for your help and hope to see you on Live Chat!