Live chat etiquette agent guidelines for successful online customer service

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THE IMPORTANCE OF CHAT ETIQUETTE

Any live chat software is only as good as the agent using it. At VideoDesk we believe that the success of customer support depends on two things – 1) hiring agents with positive energy and a desire to help people, and 2) providing a good level of training to communicate, guide and sell better. While enthusiasm is a key factor in engaging the consumer and presenting the personal and human aspects of a business, the right communication techniques will determine an agent’s effectiveness in demonstrating the professionalism of the brand.

 

TONE

To begin with, decide on a tone for your greetings and general communication. This is part of your business style and how you wish to be perceived by your customers. For example, if you are in real estate, it would probably be best that your agent be more formal than, say, if you own a gaming store.

However, no matter how informal you decide to be with your customers, it is important that your agents remain friendly without being familiar. They must never forget that this is not just a one-to-one conversation but a business interacting with a customer. They represent a service, and, even though individual personalities do play an important role in building the relationship, they must always be aware that they are building a business relationship and not a personal one.

While the proximity and warmth of human contact is always appreciable, a little distance ensures the right mix of terrific personalized customer support and professionalism.

 

LANGUAGE & GRAMMAR

 

It is essential that your agent’s speak and write correct English (or whatever other language they provide support in). It is unprofessional, and off-putting to have a conversation with support staff who use incorrect sentence structure or cannot spell right. A good agent needs to bear many rules in mind, but if you hire the right people, these rules should be, or become, second nature to them.

Brevity

Consumer’s prefer chat because they can get immediate responses to their questions. Agents should use short sentences and stick to the point. Also provide information in small chunks – if a customer has to wait for an agent to type an entire paragraph before they hit ‘enter’, they will most likely opt out of the conversation.

Spelling

Any typos during chat should be rectified immediately, so the customer is aware that the agent typed wrong but does know how to spell the word right. The best practice would be to quickly re-read the sentence before sending it.

Grammar & sentence structure

Follow most grammar rules religiously, especially capitalization and punctuation. Avoid using sentence fragments unless their previous sentences makes it easy to understand them, and try and put the important content at the beginning of the sentences.

Slang & Colloquialisms

Slang is not recommended for any business unless it is an integral part of your communication strategy. As mentioned earlier, a certain decorum should be maintained even on the “coolest” site. This is, after all, a place where people put down their personal and payment information. Customers must feel confident about disclosing this information on your website and doing business with you.

Terminology

Agents should avoid using very technical terms, or even abbreviations unless they have previously used them in their unabbreviated form along with the abbreviation during the same conversation. We have a tendency to assume that everybody understands what a common abbreviation stands for, but they don’t necessarily do. Agents must not forget that chat is about making your customers comfortable, not about confusing them. Keep it simple.

Pre-scripted messages

While these are great for shortening response times when opening and closing a conversation, agents should avoid sounding like they are only using pre-scripted messages during the chat. Relax, be natural – people want to speak to a human being, not a chat machine.

Greetings

Say hello, wish customers a nice day at the end of a conversation, thank them for having given you the opportunity to help them, tell them it was a pleasure to serve them, that you’d love to help them again some time. Greetings set the tone for how the conversation will progress and also how a customer will leave it. Both are crucial bonding moments.

Personalization

Agents should try and use the customer’s name and other information provided by them to make them feel comfortable. However, it is preferable to mention details that are relevant to the conversation. They must avoid being familiar or pushy, and making customers feel like there is an open book with all their personal information available to every chat agent.

 

WHAT CHAT ETIQUETTE DO YOU ENFORCE ON YOUR WEBSITE?

This is a non-exhaustive guide to chat etiquette that your agents could follow to ensure effective communication with your customers.

Do you have other rules in place? Would you like to share your suggestions with us? Drop us a message on Facebook or send us an email.

We’d love to hear from you for our next post on chat etiquette!

 

WHAT IS VIDEODESK?

Videodesk is a leading live chat software that uses text, voice and video to provide the same quality of human interaction on your online store as in your brick-and-mortar store. We have a plan for every business. 

Jennifer
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