Live help helps

by Jay Cross on April 22, 2008

Today I got locked out of one of my online credit card accounts. My fault: I’ve got too many usernames to cover my split personalities. A box popped up asking me if I wanted live help. You betcha. This saved me time and strengthened my relationship with the bank. Thanks, Edward.

I’ve long advocated treating workers/learners as customers. If a stingy bank can justify providing a service to its customers, it’s probably inexpensive enough to provide to our internal customers. Why shouldn’t live help boxes be available on, for instance, new-hire on-ramps? Or in-house knowledge repositories? Or anywhere people in search of critical information may get lost?

Thinking you can’t afford it? I’ll suggest you can’t not afford it.

What’s a knowledge worker cost these days? For the sake of argument, let’s say $60,000 salary plus benefits, equipment, expenses, and so forth, a total of $80,000. If our worker is making sales or helping customers, what you pay them is the tip of the iceberg; the value of their lost time should be measured in sales not made or service not provided. If our average front-line performer does not have an opportunity cost of at least $200,000 /year, you need to find more productive workers.

If average, knowledge workers spend a third of her time looking for answers. Every case is different. Maybe your organization is so together that your number is 10%. You do the math. The cost/benefit ratio is so compelling that were I a CLO, I’d be asking for justification for not providing realtime help.

I went to Live Person, one of the first online live help software providers. Long ago, I had a Live Person chat box at Internet Time, but that’s another story. Today, they have a case study featuring National City Bank.

It’s not hard to imagine adding this sort of thing at the crossroads of your learning and knowledge management systems, is it? This is a no-brainer. Well, maybe not always. National City has been in the news this week.

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