For real-time communication using text
What it does
This is a type of online chat where users type their query into a ‘chatbox’ and get a response in real time. This response can come from a human, or a chatbot, or a combination of both.
It is often seen as simple and accessible as users do not need to download any software, or install updates.
The chatbox is usually integrated into the organisation’s website.
- Live chat inc
Things to consider
If you offer a webchat facility it is important that the users have a real-time response. This means you need to have someone available to respond, or a chatbot that offers a high quality service.
Most tools will let you only show the chatbox when you are able to respond. You can then replace the chatbox with a message about other contact channels or opening hours when the service is not available.
It is important that your users and responders are clear about the remit of the webchat. To offer high quality experience for your users you should resolve their queries via the chat, or handover to other services if your team cannot help.
Record of discussion
You need to consider if your users can access the service anonymously, and whether you will maintain records of what has been discussed. If you are storing data then users will need to give informed consent to let you do this. See the section on safety and security for more information.
Charities using this tool
- ‘We are with you’ offer a webchat service to support people dealing with addiction and mental health. They set it up in one week
- Shelter Scotland webchat is open from 10-4, Mon-Fri
- Calmzone offer webchat between 5pm and midnight every night
Many digital services will require a combination of more than one tool. As part of the Catalyst initiative service recipes are being developed– these practical guides describe how charities have used tools in combination to deliver digital services.
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