Live chat is a friendly and accessible way to answer your customers’ questions and provide instant feedback on any complaints or concerns they may have—but it’s not to be taken lightly! The technology presents all kinds of logistical issues, and approaching it haphazardly or without consistent training for live chat operators can leave clients confused, frustrated, or even so irritated that they take their business elsewhere.
What is the proper procedure for setting up a live chat system? Read on for some of the best live chat tips we’ve accumulated over the years in this industry:
Make sure someone is always there when live chat is available.
There are several ways to handle live chat functionality: you can hire people to staff it full time, 24 hours a day, or you might prefer to post hours when live chat will be offered and deactivate the button on your website when during off hours. It’s best to leave the chat feature visible but masked when the service isn’t available—otherwise, visitors may wonder why they can’t find your chat button if they’ve used it in the past. If all of your operators are busy, make sure someone lets new live chat clients know that their message has been received but that there will be a wait time—it’s much more professional than leaving someone hanging with no response.
Don’t require personal information.
Some live chat services force members to sign in with their name and/or email address before they can reach an operator, but this will discourage some people from using your live chat interface. If you collect an email address from a client during a chat for the purpose of sending follow-up information, that email address should never be used to send marketing messages or newsletters without permission.
Adhere to live chat operator etiquette.
The web is full of informal etiquette rules and invented customs, but it’s best if live chat operators avoid slang and acronyms for clarity. Not every user will be up to date on text shortcuts, and it’s easy to confuse customers with phrases and verbiage they don’t recognize. Politeness, proper grammar, and punctuation are essential for professional live chat. Remember, there’s no chance to correct a bad impression made online in real time, so use well-written language to impress customers and boost your credibility.
When operators don’t have the answer…
Even if your live chat operators are thoroughly versed in your business, there will inevitably be the odd question they aren’t able to answer fully. It’s a good idea to have a protocol in place for collecting email addresses or other contact information for follow-up. To keep these occurrences to a minimum, give live chat staff all the accurate information they need to respond with authority.
Training good live chat operators takes time, patience, and a clear outline of what you do and don’t want to see in your chats. Provide your staff with the opportunity to practice, and take the time to review live chat transcripts during training. When you follow these procedures, everyone can learn from their mistakes and create a communications support system that works for your business.