The live chat agent in your website is equivalent to the sales person or the customer support person in your retail outlet. The only difference is that your customers will interact with the live chat agent through a virtual medium. The outcome in both cases is the same. Customers have their questions answered and move to the next stage. For example, if the customers are in the selection process and have doubts regarding your products or services they approach the live chat agent online and ask their questions. Once their doubts are clarified, they either choose the brand or start looking for another brand. If the customers are in the post sales phase and in need of technical support, they approach the support agent, get the required technical support, they move ahead with the next step.
What customers dislike?
When the customers approach the customer support desk through the live chat window they are in some need. They have questions and they could even be in a confused state. When they approach you, they want all these problems to disappear. They are not expecting their problems to be aggravated. Not all customers are technically sound and they want things to be explained in simple and plain language. In this situation, if the chat agent tries to show off with his or her technical knowledge and use all technical jargons then your customers are not going to like it.
The use of technical jargons does not achieve anything or prove anything. It is mostly customers that lack the required technical expertise that come to chat with your website trying to seek for some kind of a solution. Using technical jargons with such customers will be a total misfire. Instead of helping customers, you will end up frustrating them.
How to deal with technical jargons?
You might ask how one could totally avoid technical jargons while explaining a technical problem or while trying to give resolution to the customer on some kind of a technical problem. Yes, this is a legitimate concern and a valid question. If you must use technical jargons, limit the use of such language to the minimum level possible.
Whenever you need to use technical jargons, you could confirm with the customers, whether they have any questions or doubts. Some customers will be upfront in asking what the technical jargon means. However, there are customers who would not like to admit that they are ignorant of the technical terminology that you are using. In such cases, you will simply presume that the customer is understanding what you are saying or communicating.
To save the situation, you could explain in simple terms what a particular technical jargon means each time you use such terminology. If you think that it will force you to type long messages, you could alternatively put all the explanations for the technical jargons as your canned response.
A litmus test to check whether you are on the right track
As a chat agent, you might wonder whether you are on the right track, whether you are doing things correctly or whether you are using excessive technical jargon in your chat. How to know whether you are doing things right?
Here is the litmus test:
If you are talking to the customer face to face, will you be using those terminologies? Use the same kind of language that you will be using with your customers when you are talking to them face to face. This does not mean that we are prescribing unprofessional approach. What we mean here is that you should use professional level language, but stripped of the technical jargon. In addition, downright colloquialism should be avoided.
Secondly, ask yourself whether you could say something that you want to say without the use of those technical jargons that you are using. If yes, and you are still using the technical jargons then you are certainly not on the right track.
Should you be asking these questions every time you say something and with every customer? The answer is yes, there are no shortcuts here. You cannot evade these steps. However, what you need to know is that you will not be at the same level of proficiency with regard to product knowledge and experience level, as you become increasingly proficient over a period of time, you will be able to handle things more easily without having to cross check every piece of communication that you send out in your chat. It will become more of an involuntary process. You will be able to explain even the technical terminologies in plain and simple language.
Where is the problem?
Often issues pertaining to the use of technical jargons emerge with agent training.
When you are selecting your agents for chat support, you need to choose people with an adequate technical background. People that do not have any niche related experience or niche related qualification will not be in a position to explain the technical jargons in simple terminology. Only people with the highest level of proficiency in a given topic will be able to break things down for the lay people.
If you are hiring people with limited experience or without the required qualification, they are likely to blindly follow the support agent guidelines and use the canned responses extensively. They will depend totally on the canned responses. Rather than trying to understand the questions of the customers in a broader perspective, they will simply try to pick on individual words and respond to them. Such responses will never offer the solutions expected or required by the customer. All the responses will be partial responses.
At one level, the technical proficiency of the customer support agent should be very high and secondly, the language proficiency of the chat agents should also be equally good.
In outsourcing situations, people have limited language proficiency or poor language proficiency. For example, live chat support agents with their chat support facility in India, supporting companies in the US often run into such glitches. When the English language proficiency level of the customers is very low, then the quality of the support offered will be very poor. Moreover, in such situations, the chat agents will try to lurk behind the technical jargon. There the customers are disadvantaged in both ways. Firstly, the chat agents fails to understand the questions of the customers correctly, secondly, even when they understand the questions fully, they are unable to provide appropriate solutions to the customers due to their language limitation. Instead of responding to the actual questions, the agents simply click away the canned responses. Moreover, if at all any additional information is shared, they use highly technical language.
Now that we have identified the possible causes why chat agents use very high level technical language, we need to look for the possible solution. The solution lies in finding the best live chat agents. Someone that has experience in handling chat support. The support agents should be fully conversant with the chat dynamics and have exposure in dealing with various types of customers. All these have to be taken care by the chat agent training. We have an elaborate post on chat agent training.
Secondly, you should ensure that your chat agents possess adequate language skills in the language in which they are expected to handle the chat. Added to that, there should be ongoing training given to the chat agents.
If you think that all these are far fetched measures, then you should know that they are not really far fetched efforts, but these are the only ways through which you could hone the skills of your chat agents continually.
All the chats have to be subjected to quality check. In other words, there should be a feedback mechanism. By feedback mechanism, what we mean here is that all the chats have to be monitored and reviewed regularly. This will help in multiple ways. Firstly, the chat agents will remain highly motivated to ensure that they are not found at fault. This will improve the overall quality of the chats that are handled by the chat agents.
Secondly, even those chat agents who are underperforming will get a chance to improve. At times, the chat agents may not be aware of the mistakes that they are making. The ongoing monitoring mechanism helps the agents learn about their own mistakes. Once the mistakes are realized, they will be open to further learning and improvement. This improves the internal dynamics of the chat support department. All these factors have to be addressed right at the beginning when we are setting up the chat support. You need to have the right protocols for chat monitoring, chat review and the subsequent actionable agendas.
One of the parameters in which the chats have to be assessed is the use of technical jargons. You need to check how extensively the chat agents are using the technical jargons. In addition, you need to assess how good the chat agents are in simplifying the technical jargons to the ignorant customers.
If you should identify the gap, you should come up with subsequent measures to fill the gap. This is an ongoing process. You will be able to overcome the mistakes and blunders that are committed by the chat agents over a period of time. Let us assume that the chats are not reviewed or monitored, then you have no way of knowing how well the chat agents are performing and where the chat support provided in your website is taking your brand to.
Honing the communication skills of the chat agents should be the top-level priority of the chat support department. Your role does not end with finding an experienced chat agents, but it extends further to the day-to-day operations of the chat support department.
Holistic approach to handling problems
As you could easily notice that if you want to reduce the technical jargons used by your chat agents, you cannot address the problem in isolation. You will need to take a holistic approach and try to eradicate the problem at the grassroots, which is nothing by recruiting the right chat support agents and giving them the right kind of training.
You will not be able to solve this problem completely by using the canned response approach. Ready made or preset responses could only take you to so much, but it you will not be able to eradicate this issue all the way down. You need to set stringent standards for your team so that it is carried forward to the new chat agents who join the team.
Why the use of technical jargons is not the best way to express your professionalism?
Interestingly, while we are exhausting our breath here on reducing the technical jargons, certain companies use technical jargons as the route to establishing professionalism. They think that by using complex terminology and by using technical jargons, which the customers are unable to understand they could make the customers believe that they are the experts in the field and that they know better than the customers.
You could be grossly wrong in assuming this. When you are using excessive technical jargons, your customers are increasingly intimidated. They would like to stay away from you as much as possible. They will distance themselves from you because if they approach you, you tend to bombard them with the terminologies, which they do not understand. If you are going to make the customer’s distance from you for some reason or the other, you have already started failing in your business model. The whole idea of running a business is to attract customers closer to you and to impress them with your services so that they remain with you and certainly not to intimidate them.
You could establish with your customers how professional you are in a number of other ways and means. Embark on non-threatening approach to establishing your professional approach.
Put your best efforts to understand the pulse of the customers. Use simple language and let your language express to your customers how much they mean to you. Furthermore, let the choice of your words show them that you really care and that you are not there to just provide them with some quick, half-baked answers.
If you want to know how technical jargons could make your customers distance yourself from them, then here are two key industries that use technical jargons extensively.
Firstly, the insurance industry and secondly the legal industry. In the insurance industry, the technical jargon is the language that they speak and they do so with the sole purpose of intimidating the customers and to keep the right information away from the customers. As a result, no one in their right senses likes the insurance industry. The first thought that comes to people’s mind when they think of the insurance industry is the complexities involved, why so? It is mainly because of the industry uses technical jargons so much just to keep the customers ignorant.
The second industry as we noted, is the legal industry. No other industry uses technical jargons as extensively as the legal industry. Who likes to approach an attorney? It is not just because of the expensive nature of the bills that you get when you approach an attorney, but it is also due to the fact that they talk nothing but the jargons with the customers.
When you are dealing with your customers, you need to make the same mistakes. If you really want to be respected as a brand in your niche industry, make your live chat support free from all jargon oriented approach. Show how professional you are by your courteous replies, by your swift turnaround time, by following up promptly by delivering quick solutions to their problems and using hundred and one different ways expect the use of technical jargons.
A word of warning
We have been very anti-jargon the entire article. However, this should not be misread. As a chat agent, you should be familiar with all the technical jargons and you should be in a position to understand when customers use the technical jargons. You cannot run away from them completely, but be in a position to explain to your customers what the jargons mean. If any of your customers ask what certain technical terms mean, you do not respond to them saying we do not encourage technical jargons. Use as much technical jargon as you want and like if the customer is equally informed. The point that we are trying to establish here is that you should be helping your customers and making them trust your brand. If anything is going to come between you and the customer and prevent you from achieving this goal then stay away from such factors. If the customer is technically sound, then there is nothing that could stop you from using technically complex language. The entire article should therefore be read in the right perspective.