Improve Customer Service With 5 Actionable Live Chat Tactics

The provision of customer service is a never-ending saga. Come to think of it, running a business is basically waiting for Murphy’s Law to become effective. I’m obviously not saying this to discourage anyone. You must be well aware of the elephant in the room and realize that at one point or another, something will go wrong with your product or service, and it’s how you tackle the problem that actually defines you. With that being said, let’s take a look at how you can improve customer service with a number of tactics you can start using right away.

When it comes to providing support to your clients, there are multiple channels you can utilize. Telephone and e-mail are the staples, however, customers start to turn to social media or look for live chat option ever more often.

The latter channel is the one I’d like to focus on in this post and discuss some actionable methods for you to improve customer service standards and leave clients with positive overall impression.

Improve customer service by NOT doing things 

I’ve decided to take up a different angle for this post, and instead of listing things you should be doing, I’m pointing out certain aspects of live chat use that you should rather avoid, if you want to improve customer service.

At first glance, my suggestions may not seem like much to you, but their strength lies in making them a fixed element of your live chat support operations and in agents keeping them at the back of their heads at all times. By sticking to these points, you’ll improve customer service and ensure excellent experience for prospects and clients alike.

Not answering promptly 

Live chat resembles telephone in that its use makes sense only when there’s someone on the other side to answer it, and ideally, do it promptly.

If you want to improve customer service, you absolutely can’t leave people hanging. How many rings does it take for you to hang up? Four to five seems like a reasonable number.  

A person trying to contact you via live chat will not wait for minutes. Or in the very least, be happy about it. I’d say answering customer’s query in under 30 seconds would be considered a good practice.

Thus, if you decide to make live chat one of your support channels, make sure you have enough operators and clearly state business hours during which you’re available somewhere on the site. Being able to provide on time help is one sure way to improve customer service.

Using lazy spelling or grammar

In my professional work, on a day to day basis, I come in contact with a lot of business correspondence, and I have to say, lazy spelling and some extremely basic mistakes are a real turn-off.

I mean, if you can’t even put a proper sentence together, how am I supposed to do serious business with you?

I get the fact that chat is a rather relaxed medium of communication, but if you want to improve customer service, you need to clean up your grammar act. Trying to respond to a prospect’s inquiry as fast as possible is no excuse for typos or spelling mistakes. This seems quite obvious, but I felt like I still have to mention this, based on what I’m dealing with daily.

Not adjusting the tone to your conversation partner

This may be a bit tricky, but nonetheless, I find this to be an important aspect of pretty much any communication act, including talking via live chat. On one hand, I want you to remain professional, with proper spelling and full stops. On the other, don’t be afraid to use an occasional emoji, if you feel like the conversation allows for it.

It’s not easy to find a balance while trying to improve customer service. What I’m saying is, people turn to live chat to talk to a real person, and not get hit with a series of canned responses (they may be good for certain other things, though). Just do your best to avoid sounding like a robot and put some human touch into what you’re saying.

Tone would also mean wording here – you may be talking to someone who’s not very proficient in your language. Don’t try to use too many ‘big words’ with such people. You’ll quickly recognize such a person by their imperfect grammar or otherwise most basic structures they’ll use. Don’t treat them like a child, just use ‘begin’ instead of ‘commence’, or ‘stop’ instead of ‘cease’,

Being too concise or too wordy

Here’s another medium-specific problem. Live chat resembles Twitter, in that you have to be able to say a lot using as few characters/words as possible. Also, consider that your conversation partner may be on the go, typing from a mobile device, and they may not be in a position to read long paragraphs on a rather small screen.

Again, you have to find a balance between remaining professional, and adjusting to your client’s tone. If you’re trying to improve customer service, remember that when talking via chat, the other person doesn’t see your facial expression or hear the tone of voice.

This is where being too concise can backfire, as an answer comprised of a lonely ‘no’ may come off as a bit rude. Typing ‘no, it doesn’t’ feels way better and doesn’t require much more effort on the agent’s side.

Going away without saying anything

This point refers to any situation during a live chat conversation, where an agent has to go silent for a moment to find the needed information, consult a colleague, etc., but also to closing out a session.

Common sense dictates that you inform the other person that you’ll be unresponsive for a moment or two. My experience shows this is not always the case.

A particular instance of chat conversations that some agents may find especially hard to swallow is proper closure when the client wasn’t necessarily nice, and that’s understandable. They need to realize, though, that in such cases it’s usually nothing personal against them, but rather against the company as a whole.

Regardless of what the source of the rift was, trying to salvage the situation by remaining cool, calm and collected and closing out with something along the lines of “thank you for getting in touch” is always a good way to improve customer service standards and leave a positive last impression. Obviously, if someone’s just plain rude, there’s no need to continue the discussion with such person.

Final word

So there you have it, 5 easy ways to improve customer service here and now. Clearly, I wasn’t trying to reinvent the wheel, but rather felt like you may forget about certain little things in the daily hustle, that are worth remembering.

The takeaway from the post is that despite live chat’s relaxed nature, you have to remain as professional as possible, which means responding in a timely manner and using well-structured language adjusted to your conversation partner, as well as keeping the usual, real-world interaction conventions intact.

Hope you’ll manage to juggle these tips to improve customer service, and if you have anything to add to it, feel free to leave a comment or tweet me @Chatwee