How to Deal with Difficult Customers over Live Chat

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Chapter 2

Building a Dissatisfaction Prevention Strategy

Aside from building the best product or service possible, there are a number of things customer support teams can do to curb the existing amount of difficult customers. The first step is to focus on prevention.

If a support team focuses on prevention first, the implementation of a real-time live support strategy becomes much more manageable. So what is included in a prevention strategy? Any method that can lessen dissatisfaction before support even begins. The following tips serve as the basis for a strong customer service foundation:

Hire the Right People

Some individuals are innately helpful and empathetic — these individuals are the kind that create the foundation for a fantastic customer support team. The following tips can help you recruit the right team to build an effective customer service culture:

  • Carefully review candidates’ employment history. Have they worked in customer service before? What is the reputation of the companies they have worked for?
  • Build an online quiz that tests how candidates would respond in a number of different scenarios with difficult customers. Only interview those who score highly, as they are the ones who have an intuitive sense of how to successfully handle difficult situations, making them the easiest to train.
  • If you are conducting this interview over the Internet, ask candidates to type out several paragraphs in response to a question in order to get a sense for their command of language.
  • Conduct your interviews over live chat if possible. This allows you to conduct role-playing scenarios, and it tests candidates’ ability to craft short and professional messages.

Train Operators Effectively

Hiring a team is only half of the battle — the best operator will be lost without adequate training. Great training requires both an emphasis on soft skills and product knowledge. Use the following to get a sense of how to properly/adequately train your customer support team:

  • Train operators thoroughly in company policies and products. Allow operators to experience both live chat and your product or service like a customer would.
  • Train operators to set clear and measurable goals — whether that be a set response time, or the number of resolutions to aim for per shift.
  • Train operators specifically to avoid using negative words and phrases.
  • Provide operators with tests every quarter to see how far they have come in response time and customer satisfaction — this can be conducted through survey tests and studying key metrics.

Have Organized Departments and Specialists

It’s important to get customers to the right people as quickly as possible. Each time a customer must be transferred or put on hold as an operator looks up their personal and/or account information, the customer’s patience threshold is lowered. So having organized departments and specialists is critical to delivering solutions quickly.

In live chat, this means selecting a provider that has an auto chat distribution (ACD) feature that can instantly connect customers to an operator best suited to handle their inquiry type based on pre-defined rules. For example, if your customers have designated account managers, you can set up the ACD to automatically route the customers to their respective account managers when they are requesting live chat support.

Keep Your Operators Informed

Knowledge is power. By making visitor data such as account information and past interactions easily accessible for your operators, you give them the ability to not only serve customers efficiently, but also to engage in more personalized conversations with your customers. This in turn reduces the possibility of customer unhappiness caused by miscommunication and repeat identity confirmation, and promotes customer satisfaction instead.

Live chat has obvious advantages comparing to other support channels in terms of visitor data collection and accessibility. A robust live chat support solution should allow you to:

  • Read relevant customer information from your website or account system and display it right on your operator chat console.
  • Integrate your live chat system with your CRM or help desk solutions to share contact details and history.
  • Set up a pre-chat survey to understand customers’ needs beforehand and make the chat more meaningful and efficient.
  • Track customers’ navigation behaviors on your website as well as their past chats and messages.
  • Segment certain customers (VIP, for example) from the rest and notify operators when they arrive.

Make Effective Chat Greetings

Though relying exclusively on scripts is impossible, they are crucial in facilitating effective and efficient chats, specifically in the early stages of a customer support conversa-tion. Use a friendly chat greeting script that can be personalized like the following:

  • Hi (insert customer name), my name is (insert operator name). Thank you for contacting (insert company name) via live chat. How may I help you today?
  • Good morning/afternoon/evening (insert customer name), this is (insert operator name) to assist you with your concerns today. How is your day going so far?
  • Hi (insert customer name), I understand you have billing concerns today. My name is (insert operator name), and I’d be happy to help!

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