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40 Tips and Tricks for Live Chat Excellence – Part I

As an agency offering outsourced specialised live chat services, the challenge is to help both our clients and their customers by making their experience not just good and helpful, but excellent! Customer support has evolved beyond telephone and email support, with live chat being the most popular platform.

So what makes chat so popular? Is it the technology (enabling us to help more people at once) or the people (helpful, caring agents)? We, at the Chat Center, believe that it’s a combination of both and we’re here to give you 40 short tips on how to benefit from this great platform!

So here it is, a list of the first tips, dedicated to the very important people that keep things going and making live chat the popular platform it is today: the well-prepared, helpful, friendly chat agents.

  1. Answer chat requests quickly! Even if the first answer is just a simple “hello!”, make sure the customer knows a representative is one the other side of the chat window, ready to help. The average time online customers wait for a first answer is 20 seconds, so if you can answer in 10 seconds or less, that’s even better!
  2. Give short and clear answers. Time is an important resource, both for you and for the customer you’re chatting with. People don’t like to wait and this is what makes chat great: real time answers from representatives, without waiting for an email reply for days.
  3. Avoid one-word responses. There is “short” and there is “one-word answer” – make sure you avoid that last one. Your customer has taken time to ask something, so you do the same by providing an explanation instead of a simple yes/no answer.
  4. Create, learn and use shortcuts. This not only saves time for you, but for the customers as well. Moreover, by constantly checking the information you have coresponds with your shortcuts, you can be sure of the correctness of your answers.
  5. Shorten the average response time. As we said, time is important resource. Insure you know the business in order to provide the best answers in a heartbeat and don’t hesitate to use the shortcuts to shorten the response time.
  6. Pay attention! As we said, customers need to know that you are ready to help, so listen to their needs and answer all their questions.
  7. Be honest! If you can’t answer all their questions – we’re all human! – be honest and direct about it. Don’t be overwhelmed by tough questions, tell the customers you don’t know and that you’ll have to check the info, rather than misleading them.
  8. Inform the customer when transfering the chat. As a last resort in the case of a difficult situation that you can’t fix yourself, let the customer know that you are transferring the chat in order to provide the best support there is.
  9. Be both professional and personal. While the tone of the chat has to be respectful and professional, don’t be afraid to add a personal touch to the communication, whether it’s a humorous comment or a special greeting when starting the chat. Be friendly, nobody wants to chat with a robot or with somebody that has a bad attitude.
  10. “Life is all about manners. Nothing else matters” – as Albert Hadley said. So maybe other things matter as well, but manners are important! Be polite and always use the magic words: “please”, “thank you” and “you’re welcome”.
  11. Always check the chat history. When dealing with returning customers, take a few seconds to read what the previous chat was about in order to give the best support.
  12. Use chat tags and visitor notes. Categorize conversations to make your work easier next time you chat with the same person. This also comes in handy if a different chat agent gets the chat.
  13. Understand the customer! Dealing with so many people since the founding of The Chat Center, we realised some of them might be happy, some of them sad about not being able to afford a purchase. Either way, understand how they feel and do your best to solve their problems.
  14. Make sure the customer understands you. Be proffesional and use appropriate language, but without being too formal. Change language depending on the field of activity.
  15. Use proper grammar and punctuation! Speaking of language, it is important that each and every chat agent masters the art of writing correctly.
  16. Check your spelling before hitting send. We can’t stress this enough: avoid spelling mistakes and typos.
  17. Ask for feedback! Feedback is important not only in regard to the communication quality on your chat platform, but also for the clients you represent: online customers might help with valuable evaluation that could lead to product and service improvement.
  18. Be patient! Not all feedback will be positive, not all customers will be nice. Be patient and polite no matter how frustrating the customers or their requests might be. Most importantly, quickly fix the problem, that should calm everybody down. 🙂
  19. Don’t criticize the competition! Increase sales and build your brand through the quality of your products or services, never by criticizing you competitors and their products/services.
  20. Have a closing message prepared. Sometimes customers are unable to continue a chat, for lack of time or internet connection problems. Whatever the case, if they don’t answer for more than 15 minutes, write them a message before closing the chat window: “Thank you for chatting with us. I’ll be closing the chat, but please feel free to contact us if we can be of more help.”

Join us next time with 20 more tips and tricks about the management of the chat platform and of the chat agent. Until then… Happy chatting!

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  1. 40 Tips and Tricks for Live Chat Excellence – Part II
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