When you chat with a customer in a shop, it’s usually easy to adapt your service to each query. For online customer service agents, this adaptability is harder. After all, your conversations are unfolding through a keyboard, and you don’t have facial cues, body language or tone of voice to help you.
But with more and more customer service interactions happening online, a successful chat session could mean the difference between a sale and a scuppered lead; a return customer and a lost one. It’s crucial, then, to offer the best chat experience possible.
But what makes for a winning live chat conversation? Here’s our step-by-step anatomy of a successful chat session, from start to finish.
Online, the hand that waves at your customers is that approachable chat button on your site. When a visitor clicks to chat with you, it’s the equivalent of a customer approaching you instore. You need to respond with the warmth and readiness you would face to face.
So, in a successful chat session, the agent is quick to accept the chat and doesn’t keep the visitor waiting. Visitors wouldn’t be ignored in a physical shop, after all.
Once the chat is initiated, the agent is quick to identify the visitor and give a personal greeting. If they don’t already have the visitor’s name from a pre-chat survey form, they ask for it. Using someone’s name is a fast way to start building that all-important personal connection. It signals to the customer that they’re being listened to directly, and the responses of the agent will seem more genuine for it. Using a name gives the chat session a friendly face from the start.
In fact, the more personalised you can make the chat, the better. It says, ‘I know you and you matter to the company’, which would help anyone feel important.
Breaking the ice
The smile in a successful chat session is being as personable as possible. So, don’t launch straight into business. Be friendly. A massive part of what makes a chat session successful is the relationship established. In fact, according to Superoffice.com, almost 70% of customers leave if they think you don’t care. So, show them that you do.
The agent steering a successful chat session asks how they can help only after saying hello and finding out the customer’s name. Let them settle into the chat. If the chat starts with the customer detailing a complaint, the support team member apologises first and looks to solve the issue second. Customers like it when their concerns are validated, and when companies accept responsibility if something has gone wrong.
The human touch
Attentive service is the heart of the anatomy of a successful chat session. With the growth of AI, automation and chatbots, it might seem tempting to let the droids handle your customers. But failures like Fabio the Pepper robot have demonstrated that the human touch is still craved when it comes to customer service.
So, in a successful chat session, your agents ensure that they’re providing the human touch. The human touch comes through by showing empathy. If the customer is upset, the agent is able to react accordingly, even without voice tones or facial cues. This empathetic voice can be achieved with apologies, and the avoidance of using too many canned responses, which can leave representatives sounding disinterested or robotic.
If in doubt, the successful chat agent asks questions. They never assume with your customers. If details end up in crossed wires, customers can end up feeling irritated and not listened to. This can be avoided by asking and clarifying any confusing issues. It’s simple but essential stuff.
Plus, asking questions will make the customer feel included in their service, and demonstrates that their experience is valued. In turn, this adds to those personal relationships that encourage loyalty.
The brain of a successful live chat session is being able to demonstrate active, efficient service. The customer can’t see what you’re doing, but they want to know that you are taking them seriously and trying to help them. Unfortunately, leaving customers in the dark can also leave them unhappy.
In a successful chat session, the customer service team member avoids saying no as much as possible. Instead, they actively look for solutions or workarounds for tricky issues. If they get stuck or are struggling, they can ask colleagues for help or ask the customer for more information. They never give the robotic ‘computer says no’ response. A bad chatbot deployment can do that, and your customers won’t thank you for it.
Whenever you do anything to help your customer, you should always let your customer know what you’re doing. Remember that they cannot see your efforts, and don’t know if you’re sat ignoring them or actively working on their query.
The customer will be happy to wait a little longer if you explain what you’re doing, and assure them along the way. In other words, put in the effort and show it, and your customers will appreciate it.
Taking your leave
The back of the live chat session is the end. You’ve gotten this far successfully, but the wrong sign-off could still derail the chat. Make sure that the customer feels supported, rather than given the cold shoulder.
Successful chat endings come from agents that avoid abrupt goodbyes. Signing off suddenly signals to the customer that you don’t want to talk with them. This signal can cause upset or annoyance, even if the rest of the chat was successful. Sudden sign-offs are often considered rude, and will leave a bad taste in the customer’s mouth.
A successful chat session, however, is unlikely to end brusquely. When ending the chat, the agent will be sure to confirm that the customer is happy, to thank them, and to invite them to chat again whenever the need arises. By doing these three things, it’s impossible for the end of the chat to be sudden. Remember: showing gratitude to a customer is the backbone of a good customer relationship.
Successful chat conversations leave customers happy with your service and welcome to return and chat again. They involve ensuring active, attentive support in every step of the chat journey.
So, now you know the anatomy of a successful live chat session, why not claim your free trial of WhosOn, and put the knowledge to great use?