Live chat is an essential tool for contact centers aiming to improve customer engagement with an active online presence. Chat has been around for over a decade, but only in the last few years have companies realized its true potential.
According to Econsultancy, live chat has the highest satisfaction levels for any customer service channel – chat was rated at 73%, compared to 61% for email and 44% for phone. Having live chat is now a standard feature for most companies looking to talk to customers in real-time.
However, providing great live chat support isn’t particularly easy. Chat is a conversational tool and performed in real-time, but it also requires strong writing skills. This means, agents need to encompass both phone and email skills simultaneously in order to be successful at chat.
So, as companies embrace live chat can we confidently say that contact centers have become masters at it yet? A little bit of help never hurt! Here are 5 simple steps you need to be cautious of when trying to be successful at chat support.
1. Practise Active Reading
How often have you experienced a miscommunication when texting with a friend simply because you read too quickly or jumped to conclusions? It happens all the time. The lesson here is to understand that it’s hard for people to express themselves through writing, so read carefully and don’t make assumptions.
2. Apply Multi-Tasking Skills
It’s common for live chat agents to handle multiple sessions at the same time – this is a skill in itself. However, handling too many chats can keep your customers waiting too long between replies. To master this step, it’s critical to set maximum chat sessions per agent. This will ensure that customers are kept happy and not left waiting – don’t lose sight of the bigger picture here; the customer experience on chat is very important.
3. Communicate Clearly
An agent with pristine phone skills understands the importance of repeating a customer request or concern. Similarly, it’s great to mirror a customer’s language on a chat session. This shows customers that you clearly understand and acknowledge their issue. When a customer feels understood they tend to relax – not to mention it develops a sense of rapport between the chat agent and customer.
4. Use Positive Language
As we definitively pointed out in the first point – a misunderstanding can happen very easily over chat. Just like SMS, chat responses tend to be short, incomplete and quickly-fired. For this reason, tone can be difficult to decipher, so choose your words carefully. Using positive language to develop your tone can avoid a chat catastrophe. We suggest sticking with a compassionate yet informative tone. Another good rule of thumb is to use an emoticon when your tone might be unclear J
5. Ask for Feedback
You wouldn’t end a phone call or email message without making sure you’ve satisfied your customer’s inquiry – it should be no different on chat. You can confirm that customers are satisfied before ending the session by simply asking, “Have I answered all of your questions today?”, or you could offer a post-chat survey. A post-call survey offers many benefits! Specifically, it provides you with an opportunity to evaluate performance and make adjustments. The key here is to make surveys simple and short. Make sure you ask no more than 5 multiple-choice questions using a five-point scale for answers. The last question could be an open-ended message where customers can express specific problems or suggestions.
If you’re new to chat and looking for some great tools, here’s a good synopsis of what’s available in the marketplace.
Live chat offers a number of benefits to companies and customers alike: It’s convenient for customers, cuts down expenses for companies, increases sales, and improves the customer experience. Additionally, 79% of customers say that they prefer live chat because of the immediacy it provides, but if agents haven’t mastered the skills to deliver a top-notch experience it will be a wasted effort. So, ensure you’re agents are trained for success. As Zig Ziglar says,
The only thing worse than training employees and losing them is not training them and keeping them.