Is your organization looking for ways to improve customer experience on live chats? Perhaps there are new hires in your company who are having a hard time getting to grips with live chats. Are you looking to improve your customer handling time (CHT) on chat?
In this post, I’ll share a structured workflow which you and your team can follow when handling live chats. This workflow can be followed by any customer service representative handling live chats, representing any type of organization.
Download a printable version of the workflow, or read on for the step-by-step guidelines to live chat.
Step 1 : Be quick to accept the chat
Customers should not be made to wait when they initiate a chat request. The only way to ensure this is by accepting the chat request as soon as you receive it.
Imagine if the customer on the chat is irate or needs help urgently. It wouldn’t be a good start to the chat if they have already been on hold for too long. Aim for an average wait time of less than 20 seconds.
Step 2 : Chat with focus and a confident smile
FOCUS! You heard that right.
Once you have accepted the chat request, forget all your worries, tune out all your negative energy, stop the chatting with your colleagues and give the customer your complete attention.
Approach the chat with a confident and cheerful mood because happy minds help deliver a happy customer experience.
Step 3 – Greet the customer
Once you’ve accepted the chat, the first thing to do is greet the customer professionally and courteously. It can be helpful to use canned responses at the start of a chat to greet the customer as it can save time when handling multiple chats simultaneously.
Greeting should be professional while remaining friendly at the same time. A good example would be:
Hi John, Thanks for contacting Kayako Support, how may I help you today?
Step 4 – Identify the customer
The next step is to check the customer’s details. Find out as much as you can about them – look to see if they are a lead, currently trialling your product, existing paid customer, or if they don’t appear in your system at all and may have contacted the wrong company.
It is a good practice to give a quick check of the customer’s profile and get hold of information like recent contacts with your support team, type of customer, any user notes on their profile that you should be aware of.
If the customer has contacted the wrong company for support then you should link them to the correct company if you can. This helpful interaction could potentially pay off if this person becomes your customer in the future!
Step 5 – Read the chat subject carefully
Some customers might just type in their query/issue in the chat subject itself so it is important that you read the chat subject carefully after accepting the chat.
If the chat subject is not very clear or needs elaboration then you need to probe for more information.
It is always best to ask questions rather than making assumptions that take the chat in the wrong direction. If probing is not done correctly or if incorrect assumptions are made by the agent then the chat can stretch unnecessarily and create a frustrating experience for the customer.
If in doubt, then it is always better to discuss with the customer what you have understood and check you are on same page as the customer before offering any solutions.
Step 6 – Treat complex queries as several smaller ones
It’s easy to misinterpret a query, especially if you’re on multiple chats at once, so read the query twice to help you fully understand what the customer is asking.
If customer has multiple queries then the best way is to answer them one at a time after the customer has finished typing.
Answering their queries is really only a small step towards fulfilling your customer’s needs. The real help comes when you understand what they truly need and can give them the best options to meet their requirements.
Step 7 – If you need time to research, let the customer know
You won’t always have the solution for each query customers ask over chat. In these situations, it is better to take your time to research the solution so you can give the customer the right answer to their query.
If you feel the subject might need some investigation or you need to discuss this with an expert or engineer, communicate this to the customer.
Collect all the information required from the customer so that you or the next agent who will take the follow up with the customer has all the information they need to investigate and get back to the customer.
Step 8 – Practice the solution in your system/test environment
If you are in a technical profession or a profession where you can check the solution by practicing in your system or a test environment then make it a habit to always follow this practice before giving the solution to the customer.
It helps you iron out any flaws in the solution and helps test whether this is what the customer needs.
Step 9 – If you are unsure, talk to your colleagues
If you are not sure about a solution then have a quick chat with your manager or your colleagues who can guide you or give some tips from their experience.
In some cases, it is better to transfer the chat to an expert who has better knowledge of a specific issue.
Step 10 – Empathise with the customer and start drafting your reply
Empathy is a must have skill for every customer support professional. If you can empathise with a customer’s situation by putting yourself in their place then you’re more likely to have a good outcome.
Empathy helps turn customers around from making a complaint to fixing the problem. It is important that you understand the solution from the customer’s point of view to be able to see how you can solve the query.
Step 11 – Keep your response simple and precise and remember to proofread
It is important to use simple and clear language because the customer might not be familiar with your native language. You should avoid jargon and don’t use canned responses too often or the conversation will start to sound robotic.
Always remember that the person on chat is also a human so keep it real and be honest with your responses. After you have completed your draft response, read it again before sending it over to catch any technical or grammatical mistakes.
Step 12 – Offer a detailed solution and cover any potential questions
It is important that you provide the solution in detail, covering all the conceptual and technical aspects. You should explain how you came to the solution so that the customer can learn from it and hopefully won’t have to contact support again for the same query.
If a solution can be achieved by several methods then it is a good idea to share all the possible ways with the customer – they might prefer one solution over another.
Think about what future issues the customer might face related to the initial query, and cover them on the same chat session to avoid another contact and help create an effortless experience for the customer.
If you don’t have a solution to the customer’s query, things can get a little trickier.
It is very important to treat this situation with care because handling this poorly can result in an angry customer who may ask for: an escalation to speak with a manager, threaten to leave your company, or air their frustrations on social media. So what should you do in this situation?
- Give the closest solution possible you can find. Check if there is any alternate solution available which might not be an ideal solution but maybe just good enough for the customer to meet their requirement.
- Provide a thorough explanation on why you do not have a solution for their query.
For instance, if a customer makes a feature request that you know isn’t in the pipeline yet, share your roadmap with them (if it’s public) and let them know you’ll pass their feedback on to your product team.
Remember, you cannot always say “Yes” to every customer request and learning to say “No” is a very important skill that a customer support professional should have.
Step 13 – Share related documentation and encourage self-service
A great advantage of creating a knowledge base is that agents can cover the basic points related to query on chat and then share a link to a page on the knowledge base where things are explained in more detail with video, screenshots, and guides to help.
Sharing articles on chat also encourages self service which means that the customer would know where to find an answer before they contact support next time.
Step 14 – End the chat on a high note
It is important to understand the value of ending a chat session on a high note. The last moments on a chat can create a bitter memory of the experience if not handled well. We should avoid abrupt goodbyes and instead ask if there is anything else the customer needs help with.
Saying a goodbye should be with the intent that we “hope to hear from you soon” and reminding them that you are right there for them if they need any further help.
Ask the customer if they are satisfied with the solution you provided and if there is any part of the conversation which they didn’t understand and would like to go over again.
Over to you
Following these 14 steps should help you develop a structured approach towards handling a live chat.
Don’t want to bookmark this page? Just download our handy template and get all these steps in easy to read actionable points.
Do get back to us if you have any feedback or comments related to this blog. We would love to hear back from you if this article helped you or your colleague in giving a great experience to your customers on chats.