Posted on Aug 16, 2018

Offering Live Chat? 3 Best Practices for Customer Service Etiquette

You’re running a successful e-commerce startup. Products are flying off the figurative shelves. There’s only one hiccup. Once your customers have your product shipped to their home, they have important follow-up questions about how the product should work. You want to reach them, but you don’t have enough time to answer them on the phone or via email.

How can you offer a way to connect with them without overextending your customer service agents?

You can install a live chat feature on your business website, train your employees in the latest best practices in customer service etiquette, and reach your customers online in real time.

Live chats provide a fast, effective alternative to customer service phone numbers and help desk emails. They pop up on the margin of your website or within your website’s Help page. Your customers type in questions or concerns about their products, and your staff responds as quickly as possible. As you implement this incredibly helpful customer service tool, here are three best practices to consider.

1. Respond Immediately and Communicate When Your Customer Service Agents Will Be Available.

Customers on a live chat expect an immediate response. They’re online and engaged. To them, your business having a live chat means you’re open for communication at all times.

Realistically, your employees may get backlogged helping other customers. It may not be feasible for your e-commerce store to be open round-the-clock and for you to pay employees to respond after hours.

Don’t mislead your customers. Make it clear when your live chat feature is available and when it is not. If your live chat isn’t open 24 hours a day, set up an auto-response during closed hours. Filter the after-hours live chat feed through your company’s help desk, which will allow your customer service agents to track requests and respond during hours of operation. 

If your customer service representatives do get backlogged, communicate how long your customers should expect to wait and explain why they’re waiting. If you need to transfer them to another agent or put them on hold to get more information about their product issue, communicate that, too.

2. Minimize the Time It Takes Your Staff to Answer Questions and Address Concerns.

Live chats, like other customer service offerings, are a bit of a battle against the clock. The more time your customer service staff spends with one customer, the more customers are lining up in the live chat queue. Therefore, it’s paramount to reduce the amount of typing and to respond as efficiently as possible.

Prepare links to help articles, video tutorials, graphics, screenshots and other didactic materials that your staff can send in place of typing out long, text-based responses. When possible, share these resources. It will minimize the amount of typing your staff has to do and it will empower your customers to self-direct.

Ask your customers to complete a short, pre-chat survey to better understand their problem. Keep the pre-chat survey to four questions at maximum. The answer will allow your customer service representatives to locate helpful information quicker and ultimately expedite response times.

It’s not possible for every customer service agent to formulate an original response to each and every question and concern they see in a live chat. It simply takes up too much time.

Use scripted messages to cut down on how long it takes your agents to compose their responses. Be careful with the tone and cadence of canned responses. The messages shouldn’t sound too robotic, nor should they be so enthusiastic that they seem forced. Research scripted responses and revise them to match the tone of your business.

3. Train Your Staff to Speak Casually and Empathetically.

Start off every chat with a personalized greeting. Live chat features will be able to populate basic information about your incoming customer. Make sure to use the customer’s name and, if possible, reference their buying history in the first line of your live chat. Always acknowledge repeat customers and express gratitude for their loyalty to your business.

Next, have your customer service agents introduce themselves. The goal of every customer service interaction is to build rapport. Your customers must know with whom they’re speaking before they start trusting your customer service representatives.

Use an advanced live chat feature to add agents’ names and photos, which humanizes your company and your staff. Immediately after your staff issues a personalized greeting to your live chat customer, they should introduce themselves and your company.

The language of your live chat responses should similarly convey a human touch. It’s important to remember that customers want to feel understood. Often, they may be frustrated and angry about your product. Your staff can neutralize their feelings by acknowledging and apologizing for the issue they’re having.

The agent should directly express that they understand the emotion your customer is experiencing. Effective live chat responses demonstrate a high level of empathy and reassurance and reinforce the customer’s sense of brand loyalty. Your customers shouldn’t feel like your customer service agents are speeding their way through the communication and trying to get to the next customer.

As previously noted, the tone of your live chat should match your company’s brand. Even if your brand is somewhat austere, remind your customer service agents to keep their responses positive and upbeat, succinct but thorough.

Perhaps most importantly, live chats that end abruptly generate negative emotions in the customer. It’s critical for your customer service agents to ask if your live chat customers need any further assistance before they end the chat. 

Install an Easy-to-Use Live Chat Feature with iPage’s Website Builder and Design Templates

E-commerce, online stores, and other business websites have a unique challenge. Even after customers purchase a product, they want to stay connected, ask questions, and express concerns. Live chat features are the best way to enable that connection without tying up your phone lines or filling up your email inbox.

To create an optimal live chat experience for your customers, follow these three best practices. If you have further questions about how to install a live chat feature on your website, reach out to our design and marketing team for advice.


Feature image by rawpixel on Unsplash