How To Article

Pre Chat Survey: How to Create a Pre Chat Form [May 2022]

Román Filgueira García
Content Writer, Respond.io
May 9, 2022

If you’ve ever chatted with a customer support agent, you might have filled out a short pre chat form before the conversation. But what is the use of these preliminary questions in the form? In this article, we’ll explain what pre chat surveys are and why companies use them. We’ll also show you how to create a pre chat survey for your respond.io web chat widget and any messaging channel supported by respond.io.

What is a Pre Chat Survey?

Pre chat surveys are forms that collect contact information before a chat with a customer support agent. Companies use them to provide their support agents with the necessary information to solve customer inquiries.

Using a pre chat survey has several benefits. Because they are automatically sent, agents don’t need to manually ask introductory questions. The answers provided increase the agents' contextual understanding of the contact, which reduces their workload during the conversation.

Prechat survey benefits
Benefits of pre chat surveys for support agents

Some companies use pre chat surveys to determine the contact's needs and the right support agent for them to be assigned to. As a consequence, resolution time decreases and the support process becomes more efficient.

Let’s see what kind of information companies request in their pre chat surveys.

Pre Chat Survey: Types of Data Requests

Pre chat surveys request information that can be used to improve the customer experience with personalized messages and give support agents insight into the customer’s profile.

Prechat survey: What information to request
Some common types of information requests found in pre chat surveys

Acquiring more contact information upfront also helps agents meet customer-based service-level agreements by identifying clients with special clauses in their contracts. Thus, companies are able to meet required performance standards and avoid penalties for breaching their warranties.

This information includes client IDs, inquiry types and in some cases, a General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) consent form. Let's explore some of these data requests in detail

Pre Chat Form: Basic Contact Information

One of the keys to good customer support is giving personalized service, avoiding soulless and generic small talk, and communicating with customers in a natural and conversational way.

Knowing the contact’s name doesn’t just help support agents identify who they are talking to, but also allows them to greet visitors by name. This helps build a positive relationship founded on mutual respect from the beginning.

 pre-chat survey: Basic contact information
Basic contact information is mainly used for contact identification and follow-up

Email addresses and phone numbers are also used to verify contacts’ identities. But more importantly, they give support agents a way to follow up with customers who ask a question but leave the conversation before getting a reply.

Pre Chat Form: Account/Client Number and Order ID

Some companies identify customers by assigning them account or client numbers, while companies that offer post-sale services might ask for an order ID before answering any inquiry.

 Prechat survey: Account/client Number and Order ID
Alternative contact identification methods

In that scenario, the customer’s order ID is usually the most important piece of data, since it allows agents to quickly identify the issue and solve the inquiry efficiently.

Pre Chat Form: Inquiry Type and Description

Knowing the inquiry type makes it easier for the support team to pass the conversation to the right agents. This is particularly useful for companies that divide their teams by function and automate their routing strategies with automation tools like Workflows.

Pre chat form: Question category and issue description
Knowing the inquiry category is useful when routing conversations to support agents

Additionally, pre chat surveys sometimes include a description field for contacts to briefly explain the issue. This helps clarify the nature of their inquiry, so agents have the information they need upfront for more precise and faster problem-solving.

When agents are equipped to answer inquiries in their field of expertise, they can deliver more efficient customer service, avoiding unnecessary questions and redirections.

Pre Chat Form: Country and Postcode

Some larger companies might vary their products or services for different countries. In this scenario, asking contacts for their country or postcode allows them to be routed to a dedicated team for their geographical area.

Prechat survey: Contact country and postcode
These survey questions are popular among companies that apply language routing strategies

Alternatively, these companies might route conversations by language. Hence, a contact's nationality could determine their primary language and the conversation could be assigned to the right agent.

Pre Chat Form: GDPR Acceptance

Since April 2016, companies that collect and process the personal data of European Union residents must include a General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) consent form in pre chat surveys and other types of contact forms.

GDPR form in a prechat survey
An example of a GDPR form that you can find on pre chat surveys

By adding a GDPR acceptance field, you ensure that contacts are aware of your data protection policy and consent to providing their details for fair and responsible use by your company.

Pre Chat Survey Best Practices

When creating your own pre chat survey, you’ll have to decide how many fields you will add, and how many of them will be compulsory.

The more fields your survey has, the more it discourages people from entering their data to chat. Similarly, too many compulsory fields may put off customers, especially if they request sensitive data such as annual salary or home addresses.

Pre-chat form: Best practices
Be mindful of the information you request in your pre chat survey

Ideally, you should only ask for information that helps your support team identify customers and provide them with better service.

Now that you are familiar with the types of information requested in pre-chat surveys, we’ll teach you how to use respond.io to create your own pre chat survey in a messaging channel of your choice.

How to Create a Pre Chat Form with respond.io

When it comes to customer communication, respond.io offers numerous possibilities. Not only can you add a pre chat survey to your web chat widget, but you can also do the same in any messaging channel with the Workflows builder.

Pre-chat survey: What to include
Respond.io Users can create pre chat surveys for their messaging channels too

In this section, we’ll explore both options to help you set up a pre chat survey on your preferred channel.

Pre Chat Survey for Web Chat Widget

First, you’ll need to connect the respond.io chat widget and install it on your website. Once done, open the respond.io Settings Module, select Channels and follow these steps to add a customizable pre chat form.

1. Choose your Web Chat Channel.

Respond.io Channels: Web Chat
Find your Web Chat Channel on the list

2. Click on Customize.

Customize Web Chat on pt.respond.io channels
Select Customize to change your survey’s look and feel

3. Collapse the Pre-Chat Form and enable it.

Editing a pre chat form on pt.respond.io
Create your desired pre chat survey by adding, removing and customizing fields

Next, click on Add Field and select a field from the list. Because these fields are customizable, they can be renamed in other languages. For instance, if your customers are Spanish speakers, you could use Nombre instead of Name.

Last, check the Mandatory box under the fields you don’t want Contacts to skip. This way, support agents will always be able to start a chat with sufficient information.

pt.respond.io editor
Choose which fields are mandatory and customize your CTA button

After completing the pre chat form, Contacts must press the Get Started button to start a conversation with a support agent. This button is customizable too, so use your preferred call to action to invite customers to send their inquiries.

Some respond.io Users don’t have a web chat widget and run their customer support over messaging channels instead. The next section will explain how to add a pre chat survey to any messaging channel supported by respond.io.

Pre Chat Survey for Messaging Apps

To create a pre chat survey for your messaging channel of choice, you must connect the channel to your respond.io account first. Unlike web chat, pre chat surveys for other channels must be built in the Workflows Module.

  1. Create a new Workflow.
  2. Select Conversation Opened as a Trigger.
  3. Choose Source is Equal to Contact.
  4. Add an Ask a Question Step.
  5. Compose the Question Text and Pick a Question Type.
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 to ask additional questions.
Pre chat greeting with pt.respond.io Workflows
A pre chat survey with an automated welcome message

If most of your support conversations come from existing customers, make them feel special by greeting them personally. To do this, set up an automated greeting with the Dynamic Variable $contact.name before the pre chat form starts.

Remember that survey answers like preferred language can be saved to a custom field, which will be linked to the contact’s profile. This allows Users to view the collected information in the Contacts Module and send customized messages using Contact Fields.

When Contacts reply with an invalid format, their responses will fail to be delivered. This causes the Workflow to end. To prevent that from happening, check out our recommendation on what to do in these cases.

If you plan to assign conversations to available agents based on the answers provided, we recommend saving the answers as Dynamic Variables to utilize them in the subsequent Workflow steps.

Assign agents based on answers provided - pt.respond.io
Assigning agents based on the selected answer: General Help, Troubleshooting and Feature Request

For example, you could set up a Multiple Choice Question Step asking about the Conversation's purpose. Then, save the answers as variables and use them to assign Conversations to support agents who are acquainted with that particular subject.

Lastly, include an Assigned to Agent message to your Workflow after the Agent assignment occurs to assure Contacts they will be attended to. If an agent is unavailable, add an Away Message or an Overcapacity Message to manage Contacts’ expectations.

Respond.io Workflows: Assignment logic and Away Message examples
Pre chat surveys with respond.io Workflows: Assignment logic and Away Message examples

Ultimately, your auto-assignment Workflow will depend on the type of customer support your company provides. With respond.io, you can configure auto-assignment strategies differently for support that is a competitive advantage, a cost center or anything in between.

What’s next?

Knowledge is power. Hence, having access to key customer data gives support agents the information to resolve inquiries quickly and efficiently.

Respond.io offers advanced automation tools to create pre chat surveys and save the responses, simplifying the support team’s tasks and allowing them to focus on giving customers the assistance they need.

If you are looking to create your own custom pre chat surveys, you can now do that and more with the leading business messaging platform. Sign up for a respond.io account today!

Further Reading

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