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Note: This blog post was originally published in January 12th, 2017. Because it is one of our most popular posts, we have updated it to include the latest research, up-to-date statistics and best practices in this topic.
More companies all the time are experiencing the benefits of live chat, but how does one maximize these benefits? By making the most of live chat features while working on the human side of live chat interactions, it’s possible to see improved outcomes and deliver superior customer service.
With the right mix of automation, communication, and personalization, any agent can provide customers with an outstanding experience. That also means choosing the right live chat solution that offers a variety of advanced features and customizations to give agents the best tools for the job. With these tools in place, Comm100’s live chat benchmarks have shown an impressive 84% positive rating across all organizations.
To help make the most of this quickly evolving medium, we’ve created a list of live chat best practices that will put your customer service ahead of the curve.
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83% of customers expect immediate engage when contacting a company. A high response time can lead to high abandonment rates and customer dissatisfaction. Kicking off our list of live chat best practices for customer service, we’ve outlined some key steps you can take for a faster response time:
– Make the most out of canned messages: By using canned messages, customer service agents can greet customers swiftly and avoid repetitive typing. With a customized greeting ready, customers will know that you are ready to help them.
– Collect information: Utilize live chat features like pre-chat surveys to know what sort of issue your customers have before they begin typing. Additionally, use this information to make sure that the chats are going to the right department or agent by setting a routing rule.
– Practice using shortcuts: Set keyboard shortcuts for frequently used operations, like canned messages, to save time. You can also use assign shortcuts to switch between ongoing chats, helping to keep an eye on customers needing attention.
– Use alternate media: You can also save time by sending images, files, screenshots, or even how-to videos instead of writing out lengthy, complex responses. This can help clarify an issue to solve it faster. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words!
– Set clear expectations: Responding to customers immediately is the goal, but with so many customers to attend to, it’s not always going to be possible. In many cases, setting clear and reasonable expectations is the next best thing. Some steps you can take include:
– Be clear about wait time: If a customer must wait, let them know for how long, and what it is that they are waiting for. If you have to research their issue or transfer them to a specialist, let them know upfront–this way, they’ll know that they’re in good hands, and that you haven’t forgotten about them.
– Be clear about operational hours: If your live chat support is available 24/7, say so! If not, your website should also reflect operational hours. If 24/7 support would be beneficial, consider introducing a chatbot to provide your customers with around-the-clock support.
Next on our list of live chat best practices for customer service is a reminder to be human in your chats. After all, many customers are still getting used to text-based customer service conversations and have a tough time understanding and communicating a cheerful tone. Try these tips to create a more human connection over live chat:
By using a customer’s name and buyer history, you can personalize your responses to let your customer know that you care about their unique issue. By integrating live chat with your other systems, it’s possible to get a more full picture of your customers so that you can respond more quickly and accurately.
It is equally as important to your customer for you to know them as it is for them to know you. Use advanced chat customizations, such as using customer service representative names and photos so that your customer service representatives can start building rapport at the very start of the interaction.
Whatever the issue that your customer is writing you about, be sensitive to their needs. Acknowledge their concerns and put yourself in their shoes. This way, they will feel like you care about their issue, and that you’re not just trying to wrap up the conversation as quickly as possible.
It is important to have an online live chat presence that reflects the identity of your brand. A part of that is knowing what sort of tone and voice to use. For example, if your company creates skater apparel, you might want to use a more casual tone for your live chat than if you were selling cyber security solutions to government organizations.
Regardless of your brand identity, it is important to always stay positive and friendly in live chat. Don’t be curt with the customer—use positive language and symbols such as exclamation points in your greeting and farewell. When ending a chat, avoid abrupt goodbyes, and ask the customer if there is anything else they need help with before logging off.
It can be very frustrating as a customer to ask for help on an issue only to receive an unrelated response. Always make sure that you are reading your customer’s message carefully, and that you aren’t making any assumptions about his or her issue. This will also make multi-tasking with various chats less confusing and will help you avoid sending chats to the wrong customer.
This practice applies to any means of communicating with a customer and is no less important for live chat. Don’t let the emphasis on responding quickly to a customer ever compromise the quality or accuracy of the response. If you don’t know the answer to a customer’s problem, try searching your knowledge base.
By providing a detailed response, you can show customers how you came to the solution, and even empower them to find the solution themselves in the future. If you cannot solve a customer’s problem, be sure to explain why, and to present the next best possible resolution. Make sure that you cover any potential follow-up questions.
Make sure that you proofread responses before sending your messages. One helpful tip to keep the quality of your company’s messages consistent is to give your agents a list of common spelling and grammatical errors that they can reference. Make use of chat features such as live chat supervision to control and monitor the quality of the chats that your agents are sending out. If you need to improve chat quality, you can also have agents perform a peer review of customer communications, knowing that an extra set of eyes will help guarantee quality in your service.
Now that you’re armed and ready with these live chat best practices, you need to make sure that you also choose the right live chat solution. Consider which features your agents will need to deliver exceptional service and use that as a baseline when selecting a vendor.
To learn more about Comm100 Live Chat and see how the live chat features we’ve looked at can benefit your customers and agents, book a personalized demo today.