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While I would typically research this until blue in the face, Allas I cannot find any specific research dedicated to this topic:

Our company (Gas and Electricity provider) is deliberating whether to place a web chat button function on 'every page' of the site or just a select few pages. The original design doc houses the web chat function in the universal navigation, hence making it a universal element IMO, however given the companies constraints on agents to answer these chat, they want to only place this on select pages.

My argument would be, given the placement is top right as part of the nav, this makes for an inconsistent experience, flicking from one page with a web chat button only for it to be missing on the next page.

Any further insights on this would be excellent, would having this on select pages create an ambiguous and inconsistent for those who are looking for a touchpoint to the company to answer questions

The web chat function would be primarily solving user queries with bills, moving house, and also secondarily used to help users switch plans.

Thanks, here is where the web chat button is currently placed:

mockup

download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

  • What's the purpose of the Web Chat? Is it like a sales tool where prospective buyers can talk to a Sales Agent for more info? Or is it a support tool where user can talk to a Support Rep for assistance? Context affects where it should be placed. – nightning Sep 29 '15 at 17:21
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It seems like you have very specific use cases for when the Web Chat will be useful for the site visitor. As such, I agree with your assessment that placing the button at the header may not be ideal.

Let us walkthrough a use cases.

Customer attempting to find out on why their bill this month is so much higher

Assuming a customer can login to view their monthly bill on your site, the first place they would go would likely be the view bill section. They'll look at the charges there, and if they still have questions, then and only then would they want to talk to somebody about this.

With a persistent Web Chat button at the top of the page, your customer would likely not notice that the option is there. They have scrolled down the page to view their bill. The header is probably not even visible on their screen. Why would they scroll up? How would they even know to scroll up? There's nothing to indicate the web chat would be something that can help them. The term "web chat" also doesn't help. Web chat, chat about what? Who's going to be on the other side? Don't know.

Compare to having this section off to the right of their e-Bill.

Questions About Your Bill?

Call us at 123-123-1234 or make your enquiries using our web chat service.

Now we've directly told the customer what action they can take to solve their problem. As a bonus, if you can hook up the web chat to forward the fact that the customer has came in via the Billing section, you can more readily direct a billing-related agent to help the customer.


When would a persistent button be useful?

When you have a web app, a user may need support on any screen in the app. Having a persistent "Online Support" feature in the header provides the reassurance to the user that anytime they need assistance, they know how to request help.

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In general, I have seen most sites place it on the bottom right, being a non intrusive yet persistent and visible element.

Some examples below: enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

In terms of studies, you have User Experience Design and Engagement

Jessica Langdorf reports on a recent study looking at how customer experience in live chat affects conversion. Findings include: branded chat windows delivered +13% more chat orders than generic ones; optimal placement of a chat window on the screen is the bottom-right corner, resulting in 38% more conversions; allowing users to interact within a chat window that is layered on top of the web page content produces 27% more conversions than a secondary browser; and chat button design and placement has a significant impact on engagement and conversation rates.

you can download the complete presentation in .pptx format

Considerations

I think the placement deserves some testing if this is a focal feature. For this purpose, it might be better to make it a more visible element on load, then minimize. Similarly, if you want this not to be an invasive presence (for example, to lower the perception of problems with the service), then hide it a bit more. Either way, like anything UX, you should test this and do whatever is better for your users

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Remove it from the main header and only show it where people need it

Have your button float to the side of the page, like this https://www.globalsign.com/en/

That will stop the content of your header jumping around when someone jumps from a section of the site that has a chat button to one that doesn't.

Make it obvious enough that users can see it when it's present.

It sounds clear that the chat is there to help people in specific scenarios, so put the chat button in those places.

If your chat agents are set up to deal with certain types of customer issues, and you put the chat button everywhere, those agents are going to waste a lot time dealing with every ding-a-ling who feels like having a chat.

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