Implementing webchat in one week

The exact wording of Matthew Cain’s brief was likely more eloquent but I remember it as ‘Webchat. Website. ASAP’. Mission, accepted. Message, self-destruct.

Here follows the diary of how we did it. 

20/03/20: Asking for advice on LocalGovDigital Slack re webchat. Incoming: lead from Neil Lawrence of Oxford City Council re

21/03/20: Adding script to test version of Hackney website for trialing. Having conversations with myself as agent and caller. The first sign of madness…

22/03/20: Writing quick guide for agents and their managers so they can hit the ground running, Tom Cruise-style, on Monday. 

23/02/20: Matthew intro-ing Contact Centre managers to the prospect of webchat. Encouraging response: “It looks brilliant”.

24/02/20: Walking Joseph Asiamah of the main Hackney contact centre through He shares with colleagues Tim Jones and Jacqueline Baker. Joseph is rapidly building up knowledge of the tool and becoming something of a subject matter expert.

25/03/20: Kelly Page joins Customer Services as Ops Manager. Joseph configuring in collaboration with Tim and Jackie.

26/03/20: Joseph, Tim and Jackie training two field agents, Jan and Colin. 

27/03/20: Webchat launches at 10:00 for two hours of nail-biting chat, followed by a debrief from field agents.

Mission, accomplished. 

Within the following week, we take more than 1,000 webchats, with 10 agents and managers now trained on the tool. We continue to learn about and iterate how we use it. For example, we are being more selective in our automated links; and we now ask customers to describe their query so it can be picked up by specialist agents, as appropriate. 

This mission could not have been accomplished without the enthusiasm of a small team. Not only have Joseph, Jackie, Tim and their team embraced webchat virtually overnight, they have adopted Agile principles of standups, user stories, backlogs, sprints, MOSCOW prioritisation, weeknotes AND got to grips with Slack and Trello in just two weeks. 

Kelly puts it best herself: “I am super excited and just a little impressed by the speed and willingness of this team.”

Next stop: Repairs Contact Centre.

Note: No, I don’t know why webchat is called ‘chat’ either. It’s not chatting, it’s typing. I guess ‘webtype’ doesn’t sound so good.

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