Live chat support proves to be one of the most powerful ways of engaging your website visitors. If handled correctly, you will be able to convert your visitors to prospective customers. At times, even if a visitor does not come to your website with any immediate need for your service or product, the quality of the support that you offer in your website will impress them. They might want to try your products or services right away or at least will think of your brand as soon as they have a need. The live chat support feature in your website could work wonders for your brand. Make sure that you are tapping the fullest potential of this platform.
How successful you are with your live chat support efforts depends on two major factors namely the quality of the chat support software that you are using for your website and secondly on the support skills of your live chat support agents. In this post, let us focus on how you can effectively train your live chat support agents because you may have the best of the best live chat support software available in the industry but if your agents are not good then the overall effectiveness of the support that you provide will be affected. Here, we cannot deny the importance of selecting the best chat software and at the same time, we should also ensure that the best software that you have selected is utilized well by your chat support agents.
Aspects of Live Chat Support Agent Training
Chat support agent training consists of three major components.
1. Training to handle the chat software
2. Product training
3. Training on chat dynamics
When you are training your agents you need to make sure that, your training is well balanced and that it covers all the components mentioned above. You cannot expect training effectiveness if one of the areas is missed out or underemphasized. You will have to therefore create a very clear training plan for your agents so that they are able to do justice to their role as chat support agents. Let us now discuss in detail each aspect of chat support agent training.
1. Chat Support Software Training
The presumption here is that you have selected the live chat support software based on our post on the criteria listed in “Adding Live Chat In Your Website – Why And How?” and that you have the best software in place, installed and ready to use. The chat software should be tested fully by someone who knows to operate the software fully before the agents are trained.
Before you can let your support agents to start taking live chat in your website, first they will need to understand how the chat software you have embedded in your website works. Here are the different stages of the training process.
a) Familiarization with the interface – Before any training is given to the agents, let them explore all the features of the chat software on their own. Let them go through every feature in the software interface. This will give them time to familiarize themselves with the chat interface. Delays in the response take place when the support agents are not familiar with the chat interface. They will spend more time in searching for the buttons. For example if they need to send a response from the canned response they should be able to quickly access the canned responses section and find the relevant response in just a matter of couple of seconds.
b) Familiarization with the canned responses – As a next step, every agent should have a complete knowledge on the canned responses that you have uploaded. It is best if they can set up the canned responses themselves or if you have already set up the canned responses then let them carefully go through every response without making any changes to the response. Instruct that they should not be making any changes to the responses in the canned section. At the end of the training, every agent’s ability to retrieve the appropriate response in the stipulated time has to be tested and if required further training should be given.
c) Reporting features – One of the greatest advantages of live chat software tools is that you will be able to generate impressive after the chat reports. You will be able to extract the chat transcripts of all or specific chats for a given period. You can generate reports based on chat time, geographic location of the visitor, chat interest and so on. Your agents should be trained to extract the required reports and make the best use of this feature.
2. Product Training
Your agents have to be completely familiar with your products or services that you are offering. Depending on the nature of the support that they offer, they need to be given the product manual. The manual should have complete information about the products or services you offer, the features and so on. The support levels could be discussed as follows:
a) Non-technical support as in the case of pre-sales support
The support agents employed to provide pre-sales support play a very important role in terms of increasing the sales level. Their performance will affect your organization’s bottom line directly. You will therefore need to have the best support agents onboard to handle pre-sales support. Just because these agents are dealing only with pre-sales support, it does not mean that they should not be given technical training. These agents should know your products and services, its features, selling points as well as its weaknesses. Without adequate understanding of the products or the services you are offering, it is not possible to convince a visitor and convert them into customers.
Your agents should also be instructed not to engage in hardcore marketing tactics. This will chase the visitors away from your website. They should make use of subtle marketing techniques. The idea here is that the chat support agents should be there to provide support to your visitors that are interested in your products and services and not market your products. Only experienced chat support agents will be able to handle this effectively.
b) Technical support as in the case of post-sales support
Here you should have technically sound agents in place. They should be able to understand the queries and concerns of the customers in the shortest time possible. It is like going to doctor for treating your ailment. An experienced doctor will be able to diagnose accurately your health issue and recommend suitable solution correctly the first time. Whereas, an inexperienced doctor will go by trial and error taking a long time to narrow down to the right ailment. Meanwhile, your body’s condition will be deteriorating. The same applies to your chat agents that are engaged for offering technical support. They should have a thorough understanding on the nature of the problems and the immediate solutions to the problems at hand.
During the training phase, you should expose your agents to a variety of troubleshooting scenarios before which they should be given complete product training. It is one of the industry’s best practices to give a product manual to your agents.
Create fictional troubleshooting scenarios for your agents to resolve. Time their chat to see how fast they are able to identify the problems and how quickly they are able to provide the resolution.
Here, the agents should be trained to use important chat software features such as remote assist whereby the agent can take control of the desktop of the visitor and provide the required solution.
Even the chat agents that are going to be used for technical support should be familiar with the chat support software fully so that they can focus fully on providing solutions to the visitors rather than tussling with the software features.
If the pre-sales support agents convert visitors to customers, the role of the post-sales or technical support agents is to retain the existing customers and make them into loyal customers.
3. Training on chat dynamics
Another important aspect of your chat agent training is chat dynamics. Your chat agent may have a good knowledge in the chat software features. They will also have excellent understanding of your products or services. However, if they do not have the right chat dynamics then the outcome could be disastrous. What do we mean by chat dynamics?
Getting the information from the visitors with minimal questions
Not all the customers will be able to give you all the information that you need to give them the solution. In the first place, they will not know what kind of information you will need for you to give them the solution. The role of the chat support agent is to extract the information required from the visitors. At times, this could be done through the canned responses but in many times, the chat agents have to use their own chat handling skills to understand the issues. If the chat agents are going to ask too many questions then the user or the visitor may get frustrated. Your agents should be trained to extract information from the visitors in the shortest and the most effective way possible.
Acquiring the contact information
If you are keen on increasing your leads then you need to focus on this aspect of the chat support more carefully. Not all the visitors will fill correct contact details in the pre-chat survey. Therefore, before proceeding any further with the chat, the agents should try to capture the contact details correctly. The visitors could abruptly end the chat or they may get disconnected due to internet connection issues. In such cases, you will lose that lead forever if you do not capture the contact details forever.
Using on-hold messages diligently
The agents should be trained to use the on-hold messages intelligently. If it is going to take few extra seconds to provide the information to the visitors then they should be told that they may have to wait and that their patience is appreciated. Otherwise, they will not know whether you are still in chat or that you have left. To avoid this confusion and visitor frustration, you will need to make use of the on hold messages. However, you cannot put the visitors on hold for every alternate question that they ask. Test the ability of the chat agents to handle such situations effectively.
Handling difficult visitors
You will have train your agents not to take things personally. On any given day, there could be more than one difficult chat visitors. They may throw unpleasant words or use abusive language. Your chat agents cannot retaliate with the same kind of language even if the visitors are wrong. You need to therefore make it a point to educate your chat agents that they should continue to use polite and diplomatic language. No matter how abusive customers turn.
Your chat agents should also know how to block a visitor from sending further abusive messages using the block feature in the live chat software. This should be part of the chat software training and chat dynamics training should teach them when they can block a visitor from sending messages. The agents should not rush to block a chat without trying to pacify the customer or the visitor. Blocking the chat should be used as the last resort.
Your chat agents should be made to understand the seriousness of making commitments that they or the organization cannot meet. Making a commitment in a chat is like giving it in writing. As the chat agents are representing your organization, you are expected to honor and own their commitments. They should know what are the things that they could commit and what are the things that they cannot commit. If the visitors are cornering them the agents should be trained to indicate to the visitor that someone from the organization will revert to them without making any firm commitments at the same time not losing the lead to the competitors.
Not many companies focus on this aspect of training when it comes to giving an orientation program to the chat support agents. Why it is important to give attitude training to the chat support agents. If you happened to have less motivated chat agents in your team, they will not be keen on helping the visitors in your website. They will rather be keen on closing the chat as early as possible. They will make it so obvious the visitor will hesitate to ask more questions. This will be one of the biggest mistakes that a chat agent could do and the worst disservice to your brand. Your chat visitors will not think that you have a bad agent on the support desk but they will conclude that your brand offers poor support and that you are not a customer-oriented company. You would have spent several days, why several weeks to pick your chat software to give your visitors optimum chatting experience but all those efforts will be ruined by your chat support agent who is not exhibiting the right attitude towards your valuable customers. Regular audits need to be done and you need to remove such support agents from your team.
As you can easily see here that both live chat support software and the ability of the chat support agent both matter. You cannot therefore underestimate the importance of adequate training of your chat support agents. As your chat agents become your brand ambassadors, they need to be astute while dealing with the customers. They are your prospective customers’ first point of contact. You will therefore need to make certain that your first impressions are impressive enough to make the visitors come back and do business with your brand.
One of the tendencies that we see among the business owners is that they choose their chat software
programs randomly or just based on the cost factor. As a result, what happens is that you end up embedding some mediocre software tool for handling chat. This affects the productivity of your chat agents as well as the quality of the chat handled by your chat agents. Poorly handled chats are nothing but bad representation of your brand name. It is therefore important that you invest enough time in selecting the right chat software tool.
Failing to pick the right chat software tool will force you to opt for new software within a short time after your installation. This will waste your time and also the time of your support desk staff. Your chat support agents will have to go through the chat software training from scratch as the user interface will be different and one needs to familiarize oneself before handling chats effectively.
Give importance to live chat support in your website as it can bring you more business to you than some of your sales representatives. Always deal with the most trusted chat support software companies to get the best results.