We have spoken enough about the importance of adding live chat to your website in the past posts. The effectiveness of all your efforts will depend very much on how good is the communication skills of your chat agents. Are there any special rules to be followed when you chat with your customers through the live chat? Are there any important factors to be taken into account in the live chat? How to make the live chats highly effective? How to improve the quality of the chat and how to impress the customers? These are some of the important questions that all the chat agents have. Even though most of us have experience using online chat solutions for our personal communications with our friends and family, chatting in a business or the official framework poses special challenges. In personal communications, there are no special expectations, but that is not the case with business communications. When the customers approach you, through live chat, they
Here are some prerequisites before we could delve deep into the topic on how to communicate effectively in live chat.
- The chat agent should be conversant with the language he or she is supposed to be using in chat. Many companies today outsource their live chat needs to third world countries. This results in language limitations. We must admit that there are many chat with good English language skills in many of these countries. However, at times the chat agents in some of the mediocre live chat agencies could have horrible language skills. They may be good in their own mother tongue, but when it comes to chatting in English, they may have issues with grammar and spelling. If you are going to deal with such companies then even if the chat agent should have a good chat dynamics they may not be able to impress your customers. When you are selecting your chat agents or when are planning to outsource you need to first make sure that the team that you are hiring is highly proficient with the language that they are supposed to be using to provide support.
- In case, the chat agents are to provide technical support then it is not enough that they are familiar with English, but it is also important that they are conversant with the products or services that they are to support and that they have excellent troubleshooting skills.
Tips For Making Your Chat Communication, Highly Effective
As a chat agent, you are always in the position of a sales person, regardless of whether you are offering presales support or post sales, technical support. In the presales support you are trying to convert the visitors to customers. In post sales, you are trying to retain the existing customers by solving their issues and keeping them happy.
The overall effectiveness of your chat communication will depend on how well you understand your visitors’ queries, issues or concerns. The first step is to listen to them. Let them explain their problems in detail. Try to get a holistic picture. Do not just pick on the individual words and term. An inadequately trained chat agent will rush to make conclusions before the visitor has fully explained his or her needs or issues.
Ask Probing Questions
At times, the visitors will be good in giving you the complete information on the nature of the problem, but they will not be able to give you other supportive technical information. In such cases, you need to ask probing questions to extract more information from the visitors. Here are some starters for probing questions:
- Have you filled the correct credit card details?
- Was your internet connection turned on when you were trying to complete the checkout process?
- Can you explain to me the nature of the problem that you are facing?
- From when you have been facing this issue?
- Did you make any changes, alterations or modifications to the settings?
- Did it stop working when it was operational or did it not work when you switched on?
- Is there power supply to the equipment?
Troubleshooting is an art and with experience, one gets good at it. You will need to have a systematic approach when you are trying to troubleshoot the problem.
- Nothing is trivial. It might be trivial to you, but for the customer, it may not be trivial.
- Do not expect your visitors to know the technical details of the products or services.
- Do not presume that they will know the information already.
- Do not skip any aspect, even the switching on of the power supply to the equipment.
Avoid Technical Jargons
It is important that you do not use excessive technical jargons in your chat. It has been observed that most of the customers do not possess the complete technical know how of the products or services that they use. They just have minimal knowledge about the products that they use. Just because they are using the equipment or the service that you are offering, it does not mean that they know everything about your offerings. Technical jargons will only frighten your customers and they will feel uncomfortable. Many a times customers will feel shy to say that they do not understand what you are talking about. As a result, you will not be able to effectively help your visitors. This will make your communications obviously ineffective. You need to breakdown every technical term that you will be using into layman’s terminology. This does not mean that you should not use any technical terminology with your chat visitors. Use them, but along with the terminology also explain what it actually means in simple language. Do not wait for your customers to ask for an explanation.
Make The Visitor Feel Important
An important ingredient in making your chat communications highly effective is to make them feel important. Yes, it is not enough that you answer their questions correctly, but how you are making them feel when they are interacting with you is also equally important. Here are some of the simple ways of making your visitors feel good and important.
Instead of asking ‘Give me your contact details?’ you can ask them more politely by saying, ‘Would you please share your contact details?’
Instead of asking, ‘What is the problem you are facing?’ you need to put it as, ‘Can you please share with me the nature of your problem?’
If you look at the above suggestions, everything has to do with the choice of words. You might be saying the same thing but, how you put it across will make the difference.
Why should you be concerned at all in making the customer feel important? By making your customer feel important, you will be making them happy. Every customer wants to deal with brands that treat them well. When they get the expected good treatment, they not only come back to you for all their future requirements but they will also be talking to their friends and family about your good services.
Avoid Sounding Doubtful
One of the things your customers or your website visitors do not want to hear from you is that you are doubtful yourself. They come to you thinking that you know better or that you will be able to resolve their issues. If you are going to sound equally doubtful or clueless like them, then they will lose trust in your brand. How to avoid sounding doubtful or clueless?
Do not use words and phrases like:
‘I am not sure?’
‘I don’t know how it works?’
‘I am new in this seat so I don’t know?’
‘This is a totally new problem to me.’
‘This is not my department.’ and so on.
Do Not Mislead Customers
If you happen to be in the pre-sales, then avoid the tendency to mislead your customers just to get the order signed up. This is where most people make mistakes by making empty promises. There is nothing wrong in explaining your features and your brand’s highlights. However, you should not tell them what you are not offering. For example, if your company does not offer free delivery then do not make commitments through chat that you will offer free delivery unless you can honor your commitment. In addition, do not promise money back guarantee if that is not part of your policy. Avoid using the word “Guarantee” excessively in your chat. When you use the word guarantee then you are giving the indication that it will be met 100%. Instead use the word ‘we assure’.
Make The Waiting Easy
When you are helping your customers, it is inevitable that you need to retrieve certain information or check the status of something, all these will take some time. At times, your visitors could get little impatient and keep asking you, “Are you there?” this creates a very unpleasant situation for the visitor. You can easily avoid creating this situation for yourself by informing the visitor what you are up to at your end. In case of live interaction, your customer will be able to see what exactly you are doing whereas with live chat that is not the case. The visitor is left guessing and that is what makes the entire process very intolerable for the visitor. Even the few seconds that they need to wait looks too long. By telling the visitor that you are checking the details for them or you are reviewing their account, etc., they will be more prepared to wait. In case, your customers need to wait for more than 60 seconds then it is best to tell them how long the wait is going to be so that they can focus on other tasks until you get back to them.
Show Interest That You Are There To Help
You will need to communicate to your customers how keen you are in helping them. Make use of phrases like,
I am happy to be of assistance.
I am delighted to help you.
I am here to assist you.
Is there anything else that you need?
Have I answered all your questions?
Would you like to know any other information about our products or services?
All these statements and questions indicate to your customers that they are welcome and that you do not consider them an intrusion.
Brevity Is The Key
There are manifold ways to answer your customers’ questions. It is important to develop the art of responding to your customers through short messages. Just because the messages have to be short, it does not mean that you should skimp details. Keep your sentences short and let the visitor get the information they need faster. If you want to add further details after the response to question asked. Do not make the visitor to scroll down a long message before they could find the information that they need.
For example, if the customer is asking, ‘When is my membership expiring?’ look into the detail and tell them when exactly it is expiring by saying, ‘Your membership is expiring on …’ You can probably add on after that, ‘You have got another week/month before your membership is expiring. Would you like to renew your membership now?’
If you start with membership renewal without giving them the actual membership expiry information, which the customer is interested to know, then your visitor will become impatient. This will lead to further dissatisfaction with the entire interaction. By giving the visitor with exactly the information that they need immediately, you keep them engaged and happy.
One of the facilities that you are likely to have with live chat support, which you do not have with voice support is the facility to handle concurrent chats. As a chat agent, you will be able to handle multiple chats simultaneously. This feature is given to you precisely to improve the efficiency of the chat agents. With this feature, the chat agents will be able to increase the number of customers at any given point of time. Depending on the software that you use the total number of concurrent chats that you could handle will vary.
Under the pretext of helping many customers at the same time, the quality of the chat support should not deteriorate. When you are going to deal with multiple visitors at the same time, your concentration is likely to be affected. In the process, you are likely to make all the chatting visitors unhappy.
If you have limited experience as a chat agent, then it is best to limit the number of concurrent chats that you could handle to a maximum of two.
Before you send out the chat responses, double check that you are on the right chat window. You could easily get mixed up with the responses and end up frustrating your customers.
Ensure that you do not put the visitors on hold for long durations. When you are dealing with multiple chat visitors, you are likely to put one or the other visitors on hold. Your communication skills will reflect here in the responses because when you are handling two or three customers at the same time, you do not have the time to review the questions patiently and respond correctly. You are likely to pick on certain familiar phrases and respond to those in a half-baked way. When you are rushing to respond, you are also likely to misunderstand the queries raised or the issues faced by the customers.
As we are talking about enhancing one’s communications with the customers through chat, we need to address all factors that deter good communications. If handling multiple chats simultaneously is going to affect your communications then you need to address the issue immediately.
Your ultimate aim should be to help the customers. Do not give into the temptation of proving your customers wrong. Your role as a chat support agent is to give the required information and to make them happy. Whether it is asking questions, responding to questions, putting them on hold or asking them to get back in touch, everything should be handled professionally. Your choice of words should be polite and diplomatic.
Always use modal verbs such as could you, would you, etc., generously in your chat. Avoid using one-word responses such as yes or no even if that is what you want to communicate. Construct complete sentences because that will make you look professional. This does not however mean that you should not take friendly approach to helping your customers. You need to balance between professionalism and friendliness. Never make your chat informal no matter how friendly your customer should sound. You need to maintain a certain standards in your chat. You will be able to minimize the mistakes by double-checking every response before sending. In case of doubt, always request for more time to confirm things, which is lot better than giving wrong information. Your customers will certainly understand when you say that you need to confirm or check the latest available information on the given topic.