Are you a chat agent that is trying to be successful in your career? Or you are a team leader that is trying to train your chat agents? You need to understand why certain chat agents are better and more successful than the others are so that you could emulate the successful traits of the better and the more successful agents to create many more successful chat agents. When you are trying to enhance your skills as a successful live chat agent, you need to pay attention to certain key details, which we will review closely here in this post.
Reliable chat software
If you want to be a successful chat agent, before we move ahead with the other factors we need to address one of the very primary concerns. You need to have the right tools in place to handle your task. As a chat agent, your basic tool is the chat software. You will need to invest a considerable amount of time in reviewing and selecting the best chat software solution. Visit our earlier posts here on how to select the best live chat support software. Without the right software in place, you will run into a series of issues while handling your chat, which will frustrate your customers in chat too.
If you are new to chat software tools and live chat, itself, then you need to first understand the basics. When you are setting up your chat software, you will be required to setup a pre-chat survey. When visitors to your website want to chat with the support agents, they need to click the ‘chat now’ button. Before the chat window opens, the software will first take the visitor to a simple form where the visitor is required to fill certain details about themselves. You need to take advantage of the pre-chat survey so that you could offer the best customer support to your customers.
Pre-chat survey helps you in a number of ways. Firstly, it sets the stage for the chat as long as you know how to create the questions for your pre-chat survey. Secondly, it helps you secure the contact details of the visitor in case the chat should end abruptly before you get the contact details from the customer. Thirdly, it lets you know what to anticipate when a visitor is engaging you in a chat.
The pre-chat survey questions should be developed keeping all the above factors into account. At the same time you cannot make your survey questionnaire too long because it will discourage the visitors from contacting you through chat. Keep it short but try to obtain as much information as possible from the visitor regarding their issue.
Preparation prior to chat
As a responsible chat agent, every time before you accept a chat, you need to prepare yourself adequately to meet the visitor through chat. Initially, it will require some effort from your end, but over a period, it will become your second nature, you will be able to prepare yourself for the chat without much effort.
What kind of preparation is required and what exactly do we mean by pre-chat preparation? Whenever a visitor is requesting for a chat you will get a request pop up along with the pre-chat survey filled by the visitor. The first step in the preparation process is to review the pre-chat survey. Make sure that you pay attention to details, a rushed glance of the pre-chat survey is no good. You will need to dwell on the details for a few seconds at least to understand what the user is trying to say and what is the nature of their problems. At the same time, you cannot leave the visitor waiting in limbo without accepting the chat request. One of the alternative approaches here is to accept the chat as soon as you get the request and send out a cannoned response saying that you will be with them in a minute and that you are reviewing the pre-chat survey. The visitor will not mind this as opposed to making them wait for long until you have reviewed the pre-chat survey.
In case, the visitor is indicating a specific problem in the pre-chat survey, keep all the required files that you might need to provide support ready so that you do not keep the visitor waiting. You should also keep the shortcuts for the relevant canned responses ready based on the information that you find in the pre-chat survey. You will still be able to handle your chat even if you are not making these preliminary preparations, but you will be more composed when you take care of these basic preparations before you engage in chat.
As part of the preparation, you should also be ready with the right questions. Asking the right question is an art when it comes to providing highly effective customer service. Be ready with your questions too, so that you can have all the information you need to support the customer who is in need of your assistance. With experience, you will get better at asking the right questions. Not all customers will be able to give you adequate information on their problems. Therefore, you will need to retrieve the required information. Moreover, they will also not be in a position to know what kind of information to give you pertaining to their issues. As an expert, you should be in a better position to help them.
As long as your customers do not provide you with the required information, you will not be able to help them, which will reduce your productivity as a chat agent. The faster you help the customers, the more customers you will be able to help. So if you are looking for ways and means to be a successful chat support agent, this is one area that needs your attention. Pre-chat preparation along with pre-chat survey could be that magic key that you are looking for.
Summarizing the customer’s issue
Another important trait exhibited by a successful chat support agents is to summarize the issue faced by the customer in their own words. Why is this an important factor to consider in handling chats successfully? It is not enough that you get all the required information from the customers, but there should be some way of verifying that you have understood their problem correctly. Summarizing the customer’s issues is certainly one of the best ways of verifying this fact. If there should be any discrepancy between your understanding and your customer’s actual issue, they will try to clarify things. This way you could help your customers effectively avoiding all types of misunderstandings along the way. More to that, this will also show your customer that you are listening to them and this will help in building trust.
No misleading promises
Being a successful chat agent does not mean that you should tell only the customers want to hear. This could put you in a very risky position if you are not careful. At times, you need to tell things, which the customers are not ready to listen. It is better when compared to making misleading promises to your customers, which your brand could not possibly fulfill. Successful chat agents know how to tactfully put even the most unpleasant things to the customers in a very effective and acceptable way. This is one area that you need to work on continuously. Making misleading promises or giving assurances and guarantees, which your brand does not really support, could affect your brand reputation very badly, which in turn will affect your career as a chat support agent. On the other hand, if you master your skills in conveying even the most unpleasant information to your client in a tactful way, it will make you a very impressive agent.
Discretion with small talk
Whether to engage in small talk in professional chat is always a debatable area. Some experts say that small talk is never out of place in live chat while others say that small talk need not be part of professional chat. Our suggestion hers is that rather than taking extremist views of one or the other, you should try to take a balanced approach.
When your customer comes with some emergency requirement or in an emergency trouble shooting situation, he or she will not be in the mood for small talks. Even if he or she should respond to your questions, they will wonder what kind of chat support agent you should be, not understanding their situation but trying to engage in useless small talk. In these situations, it is good to be completely business-like without losing the friendly yet professional tone.
On the other hand, when a customer gets in touch with your company for the first time and interested in knowing about your products and services, then you could take this opportunity for a bit of small talk and try to make the customer feel that you are a friendly group and you value human relationships before business. You need to use your discretion here and carefully assess the situation. This however could only be a rule of thumb and there are no absolutes here.
Improve your typing skills
You cannot possibly avoid typing, no matter how effective you are going to use the canned responses to reduce the amount of typing you will be doing during a chat. If you are a team leader who is responsible for choosing the chat agents, this is one area that you need to focus while hiring your team or putting together your team. Someone with fast typing skills will of course be able to keep the customers happy with their swift responses. There are many free typing tutor that you could use to improve your typing skills. With consistent efforts in less than three weeks you will be able to improve your typing speed. Invariably, all the successful chat agents have good typing skills. You might be excellent with your communication skills but what use will it be of if you are unable to tell your customers what you want to communicate? Start working on your typing speed right away.
Know the limitations
As a chat support agent you need to admit the fact that live chat is only a substitute and it could never be as good as real time, face to face communications. Therefore do not pretend that live chat is better than face to face communication. However, in the absence of face to face communication in an online shopping scenario, live chat is the best bet you have but it is certainly no replacement to real conversation. Successful chat agents know this limitation and they do not try to convince their customers that live chat is better than face to face discussion.
Language limitations are another area that needs to be addressed. Oftentimes, with live chat support the customers’ websites are supported by third party service providers in a different country with limited or inadequate language skills. In such situations, the quality of the chat will be affected very badly. If you are one such agent with limited language skills, then you need to work on enhancing your language skills too. It is best to stay away from the chat support. Do not take up chat support responsibilities without adequate language skills if you do not want to hamper your brand reputation.
Do not handle more than three chats at the same time,
even though the software will allow you to handle multiple chats simultaneously. This is yet another area of limitation that you need to be mindful of as a chat support agent. Trying to stretch yourself too thinly thinking that it will increase your productivity will only prove to be counterproductive. ‘Too many chats’ is not something the best chat agents aim to achieve. Experienced and adept chat agents will rather aim at offering high quality chats by paying attention to all the factors that we have discussed above.
Top chat agents show genuine interest in resolving the customers’ issues
After taking all the efforts and preparations, if there is one more difference that distinguishes the top-class agents from the mediocre agents then it is their sincerity in helping the customers. Successful chat agents show genuine interest in solving the customers’ problems. Their guiding force and motivation is how fast and how effectively could I help the customer. In order to perfect the art, they make continuous efforts in improving their skills in terms of their typing speed, language skills, pre chat preparation and so on. Most importantly such agents continually perfect the understanding of the products and services that they are supporting. Whenever there is an upgrade or additional features added to the product or service, they will spend time to get a clear picture on the services so that they are proficient to handle all types of questions raised by the customers and issues faced by the customers.
Another factor that distinguishes top-class agents and mediocre agents is that they will leave no stone unturned when it comes to helping their customers. They will not mind going out of the way to help the customers.
By paying attention to the above factors, you will be able to make yourself a rock star chat support agent that your organization will value and your team will look up to. Give yourself adequate time to improve and constantly review your own performance. Learn to pay attention to details but do not become finicky.
Right at the start we had mentioned about the importance of having the right tool, namely live chat support software. As a concluding remark we would also like to point out that besides equipping yourself on all the above areas you should also spend enough time to understand the features of the chat support software. Yes, it is not going to be of much help having the best live chat support software but it is imperative that you take advantage of all the features of the software by learning each one of them, trying them, testing them and using them at the right time.
Only when everything comes together, your effectiveness as a chat agent will be seen. You cannot be too good in using the software but careless in your communications or vice versa. Being a chat support agent is lot of responsibility. You cannot therefore take things lightly. Regardless of whether it is your first job experience or whether you are a seasoned chat support agent, you will need to understand there is always room for improvement.
One last tip, to understand what it feels to be like a customer in live chat, try to visit some random website with live chat support and start a chat in that website. Try to be a customer who is trying to understand the services offered or the products sold by the brand and see how the chat goes, you will gain a lot of insights in this process.