managing live chat team

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How to build, train and measure your customer service team for peak performance

The Ultimate Guide to Managing a Successful Live Chat Team

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1.1

15 Must-Have Customer Service Skills to Look for in a Live Chat Agent

1. Patience

It doesn’t matter what industry you are in or which walk of life you come from: dealing with people requires patience. And customer service can require a lot of it.

Sometimes customers can take a while to get to the point or might be slow to type out a response. Often, they may not understand a part of the solution that your agent is offering them and will require a step-by-step explanation. They might even disappear for a few minutes while your agents are chatting with them. Regardless of why the issue takes time to be resolved, it is important that your live chat agents know how to be patient with your customers.

2. Avid Listener

Some customers have a lot to say, others need to have additional details coaxed out of them. No matter how a customer communicates, your live chat agent needs to be a masterful listener – digitally, that is!

If an agent can’t correctly read and understand a customer’s problem, they might miss key information and provide unsatisfactory solutions. If they are talking to a customer over audio or video chat, they might force a customer to repeat themselves, which customers cite as the number one irritant when dealing with customer service representatives.

Ultimately, customers want to feel like their issue matters. An agent who is an avid listener in person will know how to use good virtual listening skills to make the customer feel heard and get started on the right track towards resolution. You might also want to check their reading skills just in case!

3. Empathetic

Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. It allows a person to truly understand how the person is feeling – whether that’s frustration, annoyance, or joy

For a live chat agent to really want to help a customer, they must be able to empathize with how the customer is feeling and relate to their issue. This will enable them to care enough about the customer to go the full mile for them and provide them with the most satisfying solution possible. It will also help them to interpret the customer’s tone and emotions, allowing them to know how to speak with the specific customer.

4. Strong Communication Skills

There is a certain level of art to communicating through writing and your live agents must be able to master this. This involves being very clear to avoid repeat contact and to make sure that the customer understands what has been said.

This also means communicating with the customer in a way that they will best be able to understand. Agents shouldn’t use any uncommon abbreviations or jargon and unexplained technical terms that your customers might not be familiar with. For video and audio chat, agents should also be ready to use tone and body language to communicate effectively.

Communication skills will serve your live chat agent not only in the chat window, but also when tagging chats, writing follow-up notes, and in communicating effectively with managers or fellow agents.

5. Willingness to Learn

Starting almost any new job requires learning new information and applying new skills – and it’s no different for live chat agents. For starters, they need to familiarize themselves with

the product so that they will be able to pass on the correct information to customers. They will also have to learn company policy, the computer systems, and how to operate the live chat program among other things. Even learning about the industry and competitors can be helpful when communicating to with customers.

Part of the willingness to learn also includes being comfortable asking superiors whenever they are unsure, instead of giving a customer wrong or uncertain information.

6. Team Player

If a new team member asks a fellow live chat agent a question or for help, they should do what they can to lend a helping hand. This is important because contact between agents fosters learning moments which ultimately play a big role in the onboarding process. It’s also vital to keeping up the quality level and happiness of your live chat team as a whole.

7. Positive

Everyone has their off days now and then, but it is important that your live chat agents have an overall positive attitude. Negative customer service agents and negative customers can feed off one another’s bad energy, and result in an upsetting interaction for everyone.

Thinking positively has been proven to help people see many possibilities for resolving a problem. It can also help agents to cheer up customers who are upset or help them see the bright side of a sticky situation. Positivity will give an agent resilience after having dealt with a difficult or upset customer. It is a necessary tool for creating a happy, healthy environment in which all agents can flourish.

8. Self-control

“Don’t bring your baggage into the workplace” isn’t always as easy as it seems. And when you’re working with a difficult customer, it can be tempting for your agent to slam against their keyboard and throw whatever emotions they are feeling that day out at the customer.

Sarcasm, curtness, or other disguised forms of aggression are means that some agents use to let out their frustration – whether personal or work-related. These behaviors, however, can be very upsetting for customers and are not as discrete as agents might think, even in typing. Live chat agents must be able to manage their emotions and exert self-control during every live chat session, no matter how they are personally feeling.

9. Multitasker

Unlike with typical call center support on the phone, live chat agents are expected to handle multiple customers’ problems at once, juggling several chats at a time. In order to succeed, your live chat agents must be effective multitaskers. This means not ignoring or forgetting to respond to one chat because you’re busy with another. It might also mean working on answering customer emails or other assignments while also actively participating in a chat. We have tips for how to master multi-chatting more effectively on this page

10. Manages Time Wisely

One of the most evaluated metrics is an agent’s average handle time (AHT). Live chat agents should measure up and use good time management practices to achieve the average handle time benchmark that is set by your company.

That doesn’t necessarily mean rushing to complete a chat; it means knowing where to spend your time and how to spend it wisely. For example, your agent should know the difference between when to escalate a customer issue to a supervisor after spending half an hour trying to help them without success, versus a customer who just needs a simple answer and friendly goodbye.

11. Assertive

There are three key types of behavioral styles: passive, aggressive, and assertive. Customers can adopt any one of these styles and so can agents. In order to effectively deal with customers, an agent should be assertive. This means being able to maintain control of a conversation that is being hijacked by an angry, aggressive customer, while also being able to help guide a conversation with a passive customer who doesn’t know how to express what they want towards resolution.

The right live chat agent won’t be a pushover (passive), but they also won’t be a bully towards your customers (aggressive). They’ll adopt the middle ground to result in the most satisfying conversational outcome for every customer.

12. Keeps calm under pressure

When the stakes are high for a customer, a chat window can turn into a high-pressure and even hostile environment. A live chat agent needs to know how to “keep calm and carry on,” even when they are being yelled at (or typed at in all caps) at rapid fire by a customer. By handling escalated, tense situations with calmness and fortitude, a live chat agent will be able to de-escalate the issue.

13. Problem-solver

The best live chat agents are fantastic problem-solvers. When a customer reaches out to them with a problem, they can quickly and accurately come up with a solution to the issue. This is especially important because agents will not always have the resources or the means to get customers exactly what they want. By using problem-solving skills, agents will be able to turn a limiting situation into a realm of opportunities.

This ties in to being able to negotiate. Your customers won’t always get the perfect solution that they were hoping for. By negotiating with a customer, your agent can find a solution that works for both your customer and your company, so you’re not constantly giving away discounts or things for free as a form of resolution or appeasement.

14. Professional

Live chat agents should be professional in their interactions with customers. That means knowing what tone and language to use in interactions to represent the brand, even if the customer is being informal and using slang. If they are using humor with their customers, agents should know exactly how far to take it. It means representing and being true to your brand identity.

15. Reliable

Whether your live chat agents are working remotely or in the office, you need agents who are reliable. Agents should be able to clock in on time and not leave their co-workers buckling under the pressure of a heavy queue. They should also be relied on to stick to established rules and procedures, such as wrap-up, note taking, service level agreements, and more. A live chat agent is an important representation of your company and you need to feel confident that they won’t misuse their position.

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