Live chat has become one of the most popular tools for providing support and engaging with customers. It combines the immediacy of support over the phone with the flexibility of email and instant messaging. But, a proper integration of live chat into a website requires more than simply copying the script. Almost like learning a new language, live chat etiquette has its quirks and in this article I will outline the most important ones.
1. Attitude matters
The most important bit of advice we can offer is that your attitude while serving a customer is absolutely critical. The way you handle yourself can be the difference between a successful sale and an angry customer. Although the customer cannot see your face or hear your voice, words can convey a lot of meaning. Don’t be sarcastic or curt. Make sure your sentences sound cheerful and polite. Most importantly, remember you are trying to solve a customer’s problem and a positive attitude will automatically help alleviate their worry.
2. Language also matters
Just like attitude, appropriate language is very important in live chat. First, you should try to mirror your customer’s style of speaking. If they are speaking formally, so should you. On the other hand if they are being conversational, take a moment to ask about the weather or simply how they are doing. But remember, when in doubt, be formal.
Second, your customers will likely come from diverse backgrounds and they may not know much about your product. So, don’t use too much jargon when describing solutions and always make sure your customer understands what you’re explaining before moving onto the next step.
If you are serving a range of demographics you may have to deal with customers who speak multiple languages. In this case it is useful to have an automatic translation tool handy.
Also, don’t worry too much if you make a mistake or if your grammar is off. It’s an informal conversation, treat it as such.
3. Don’t lie
This one is simple. If you don’t know the answer to something, don’t lie about it. Tell the customer you don’t know and either find out or better yet, invite another agent into the chat for seamless escalation. Many live chat software provide such services, which brings us to the next point.
4. Use the technology appropriately
Live chat features, such as shortcuts, triggers, and departments, can save your team a lot of time, generate lots of revenue, and help assist customers better. But only if they are used judiciously. When your customer selects a department makes sure that it actually helps them reach their solution. When creating triggers ensure that they are helping find valuable leads instead of pinging every single customer. Technology can make your life much easier when used appropriately.
5. Use style guides liberally
While it’s useful to have a set of common words or phrases to use when dealing with customers, it’s better not to rely solely on such a guide, lest you sound robotic. The worst thing you can do as an agent is simply copy and paste responses even if they do not actually answer the question. Remember the key is to solve your customer’s problem and the style guide may not always contain the right answers.
6. Personalize your interaction
Most live chat tools offer a plethora of information about your customer and you should be using all of it to provide better service. Look through a customer’s information and chat history (if any) before providing them with suggestions. For example, if a customer complains that they are losing sales, take a minute to see whether their pricing plan allows triggers and if so recommend they set one up for valuable leads. This kind of assistance is will WOW your customers.
7. Be prompt, but get it right
If your customer requests a chat it is important to respond within a couple of minutes. Any later and the customer may lose interest and move on. Once you have initiated the conversation you must remember that your customer will not expect answers immediately, so it is more important to take your time to really find the correct response than rush out a half-baked one.
8. Forget about the bottom-line
Yes, you are working for a business and yes, generating profits is important, but you should not forego great service if it means your company will save a few dollars. If a demand is made that would cost your company money, sometimes the right choice is to help the customer and swallow the loss. It could net you a customer for life.
9. Empathize with your customers
Finally, remember that you are trying to help solve a problem that is causing your customer difficulty. Often, empathizing with them will help you come to a solution while at the same time keeping their problem at the forefront. Don’t be flippant and minimize their concerns, make their problems your own.
These are just some of the fundamental tips for using live chat software. Ultimately, your role as a customer service representative is to answer the customer’s question and solve their problem to the best of your abilities.
Abhiroop Basu is Content Strategist at Zopim, a live chat tool for customer service.