Often as a live chat support representative you are too busy giving answers to your chat visitors so much so you make the process entirely mechanical to the extent your visitors sometimes get a doubt whether they are chatting with a real person or they are dealing with a robot. You need to keep a constant check on this important factor. Are you sounding like a robot or are you really bringing in the human element into your live chat? Once, your visitors feel that they are chatting with a robot, then you have lost the game altogether because the entire idea behind including live chat in your website is to bring in the human element, which is missing in the online virtual shopping environment, and to help the visitors to get the information that they need easily. Along these lines, you are required to be cautious about a few factors and apply few important techniques that will give sustained human element to your chats.
Here are a few techniques and factors that you should keep in mind when you are chatting with your visitors through your website’s live chat.
#1 Ask for the name of the visitor chatting with you even though they would have filled their name in the pre-chat form. Sometimes chat visitors do not fill their real name in the pre-chat survey. Therefore asking their name will help you verify whether they have filled in their actual name and it will also help you go one-step closer towards achieving the human element in your chats.
#2 As a next important step ask them whether you could address them with the short form of their name. This might look a bit unprofessional, but it does help in terms of bringing the human flavor. If it were to be a robot, all these feats are not possible. By doing this you will be sending out strong signals to the visitors that they are chatting with the real person.
#3 Try to summarize the question or the doubt of the visitor in your own words and confirm it with the visitor. For example:
Visitor(Peter): I do not know where to select the size and the color for my T-shirt that I am ordering.
Chat Agent: Pete, good to note that you want to order our T-shirts. I understand that you are not sure how to select the color and the size for your T-shirt. Do not worry, I will help you.
In the above correspondence, the chat agent is using the name of the visitor but he has shortened the name to make it sound personal. Secondly, the underlined sentence is the chat agent’s version of the problem indicated by the visitor. This is a very powerful way of communicating to the visitor that you are a real person. Even though the visitors do not ask am I chatting with a real person, they will conclude that they are not chatting with a real person. So the above method will send out indirect signals that will prevent them from arriving at such conclusions.
#4 One more thing that you could do is to balance between constructing full sentences and using one word answers. Normally, we teach that the chat agents should construct complete sentences and avoid single word responses. Once the chat representatives get the point, we go ahead and give them the next tip and that is to balance between single word answers and complete sentences. When we are talking, we use single word responses. Using such single word responses will make the discussions look more natural. However, avoid the temptation to run the entire show with single word responses. You need to take a mature approach here. At times, certain visitors may take offence with your single word responses as they may consider such responses disrespectful or at times as being impolite.
#5 The next question is how well you have created your canned responses. Add a friendly tone to your canned responses. For example:
Visitor: I am looking for some discounts and do you have any special offers?
Chat Agent: We do not have any offers now.
Chat Agent: I wish I could give you some special offer to you. We time and again interesting offers. At this moment no special offers are running. Would you want us to mail you whenever we post new offers in our website for your next purchases? As our customer, we will be happy to intimate special offers in the future.
Which version do you think is going to impress the visitor? The first version gives the visitor the information he or she needs but it will certainly disappoint the customer. You do not need a human chat agent to give such responses, just auto responders will do. The second version too gives the same information but it gives the details with a friendly tone and it also adds some additional information that could be beneficial to the user.
This is what exactly will happen in the real life human interactions. Why should you ignore or miss such opportunities to impress your visitors?
#5 We have already spoken about this factor but we cannot emphasize enough here the importance of using the canned responses sensibly. Your canned responses are meant to improve the efficiency of your chats but you should not become totally lazy to type some responses that will emulate the human flavor. Remember, every customer will come with a unique problem, question or concern, no matter how well you have conceived your canned responses, there is no way you could have captured all those questions and scenarios. Using too many canned responses will ruin the chat taking away the human element that we are trying hard to instill in the chat.
#6 Here is an important secret that you will not find elsewhere. Make an occasional typographical error in your response and in the next message correct it. Yes, human beings are designed to make mistakes and robots do not. Our aim here is to send out as many signals as possible to make the visitors feel that they are chatting with the real person. If you are training your chat agents in handling chat, do not give this tip in the initial stages because they should first understand the importance of sending our grammatically correct, error free messages to the visitors. However, once they reach a certain conversant levels, you can give them these tips as advanced live chat tips. Otherwise, some of the careless chat agents could simply hide behind this idea and try to justify their carelessness in sending out messages with loads of mistakes. If your chat agents are going to send out messages with too many typographical errors or with too many grammatical errors then your brand will be conceived as an unprofessional brand. That is why it is important to share this information with the right people.
#7 One of the mistakes that most chat agents make is to follow the rules too closely without any discretion. It is not enough to train your chat agents on the chat dynamics of sending out replies but it is highly important to give your chat agents with adequate communication skills. Yes, most of the mistakes happen only due to the lack of communication skills. Chat agents that are coming just out of college may lack the required communication skills in terms of dealing with customers in the real world. They may be brilliant in terms of their technical skills and subject matter knowledge but along with these they also will need some decent communication skills to survive here. Your visitors will never complain that they are chatting with a robot if you have chat agents with exceptional communication skills.
#8 Whether it is your canned response or your typed response, try to make use of words that people use in the real life conversations.
Instead of saying
“Let me retrieve the information.”
“Let me look for the information.”
Even more powerfully, if your visitors are from one specific geographic territory, try to use the words the locals will use. Even if you are outsourcing your live chat service to countries or locations outside your country or city, send them the list of words that are typically used by the locals. This will make the visitors feel at home and comfortable with the chat service.
#9 Try to avoid technical jargons as much as possible. Most often the visitors or the customers that come on live chat are people that have limited technical knowledge. For example, if you are supporting a website development site or a web design service, your customers or the chat visitors may not know the technical jargons about the services or about the industry specific terminologies. Instead of asking them can you give us the ‘sitemap’ so that we can give you the quote, ask them how many pages do you need designed and what are the pages… such a question will make more sense to the technically unsound visitors. Technical terminologies also intimidate the visitors. As a chat agent, your responsibility is to make things easy and manageable for your visitors and not complicated for them.
At the same time you also want to sound knowledgeable about the industry specific terminologies. This is where the human element comes into play. If you notice that the visitor is knowledgeable and conversant with the jargons, you should go ahead and use similar terminologies. On the other hand if your visitors are not comfortable with the technical jargons then you should avoid them. What might look very basic need not be sounding so for your visitors. Do not go by your standards. You should rather be getting your clues from the visitors’ responses. This a robot cannot do but only a real person could do.
#10 Give them suggestions and professional guidance. This of course is going to be a biggie in making your chats more human. Your chats should not be limited to just where to find the contact us page, how to place the order or how to get a refund kind of chats but you should take your chats to a completely new level by providing your visitors with useful suggestions and tips.
To achieve the above goals, you will need to be first 100% familiar with the products or the services that you are supporting. Added to that, you should also have very good industry knowledge. You cannot dream of providing impressive live chat service only with a chat agent’s manual. A chat agent’s manual could contain only so much information but if you want to offer your customers with exceptional chat service then you will have to start reading around the topic and expand your horizon. Only when you have complete knowledge about the field you will be able to respond like a human person. Or else, you will try to settle for the canned responses no matter what the questions are.
#11 If your chat software has the typing indicator, enable that feature. Real human person types whereas robots do not. When the visitors see the status in the typing indicator, “The chat agent is typing.” they will know immediately that they are interacting with a human person and not with an automated robot.
#12 In case you are dealing with a visitor that has already used the chat service then try to related to the previous chats or at least indicate that you are aware of the previous chat communications. You will be able to send out this signal only when you take a second to review the previous chat transcripts. This has got many advantages. Firstly, you will know what kinds of problems were faced by your customers and whether they have been resolved or not. Secondly, you will also get a better idea on the visitor’s temperament. If he has had a number of chats in the recent past trying to resolve an issue then, you can expect the visitor to be in a foul mood and this will help you be prepared with your responses or your approach to handle that customer. Moreover, when you can relate to the past chats of the visitors, you will be able to indicate to the visitor clearly that they are dealing with a real person.
These are just a dozen few pointers that you need to keep in mind when you are handling your chats. However, these are not the only ways of making your chats friendly and human. Our idea here is to point to the direction in which you should be looking so that you can fine-tune your chats.
You need to understand that it is not just the techniques and rules that make your chats emit human flavor but it is your genuine interest to help the visitor that will make the difference. When you are training your agents, it is therefore very crucial to give attitude training to your agents. Most of the companies fail to train their agents in this regard and eventually end up facing problems. However, they do not so easily spot the problem as they will be looking for the problems elsewhere. If only you start reviewing the chat transcripts closely, you will soon realize that the number of dissatisfied chat visitors and the attitude of your chat agents are in some way related. As long as you are able to spot this correlation and train your agents along these lines, you will be able to increase the ratings for your live chat.
It should also be emphasized here that if you want to offer your visitors with good live chat service, you will first need a dependable live chat software with advanced features so that you have a little larger boundary to play around. If your chat support software does not come with adequate features, then you will also be limited in terms of the quality of the support you offer. In other words, your live chat software is your playground and better the features, the greater the satisfaction of the visitors. If you follow religiously all the dozen tips that we have recommended above but if your chat support software is not up to the standard then you are likely to put yourself in a very disadvantaged position. Therefore, you better do your homework properly while selecting the chat software and while training your chat agents. Try to observe what is happening with the leading brands and how they handle the chat support. Try to pay attention to the response styles. You need not or should not just blindly copy those styles but use them to just get a better understanding or grasp on how well you should frame your responses so that your visitors are totally comfortable knowing that they are chatting with a real human chat agent and not with some automated bot.