02 December 2013
How to Manage Your Online Chat Software for Maximum Returns
Online chat software represents one of the most exciting opportunities that the customer service industry has seen for years.
However, it will only thrive when used efficiently. That’s why it’s important to follow these tips to make sure the working environment that you create is one in which online chat can excel.
Always ask for the necessary information up-front
If a customer feels that they're being given the third degree by a firm, they're not going to enjoy the online chat. It's important, therefore, to obtain all the necessary information from them up front, whilst gently explaining exactly why you're doing so. It's obviously important to not overload the question form - only ask for information that will legitimately affect the service you're providing.
Always provide accurate and verifiable information
Anyone who's worked in customer service will know how uncomfortable it feels to be asked a question that you legitimately don't know the answer to. However, anyone uncertain should always take the time to double check facts with their superiors to ensure the customer is given the correct information every time. It’s not acceptable to guess!
Keep useful links to hand
During an online chat software conversation, there will usually be links being sent back and forth to customers containing information on products. In some cases, there will be links that are being used all the time (such as when a particular product is just launching). It can therefore save time to have a document containing all of the most popular links open and ready to go so they can be easily found. The customer shouldn’t have to wait whilst the sales assistant conducts a Google search.
Many platforms offer an ‘auto navigation’ function, which allows you to pre-load links within the online chat software then use them to automatically change the visitor’s browser, without the need for copy and paste or even to ask the visitor to click on the link.
Ask for feedback
As with all aspects of the customer service, it's important to ask a customer if they'd be OK with providing feedback of some kind. The more feedback a customer provides regarding the different parts of their experience, the more information a company will have that could enable them to improve it.
Everybody wants to feel like they're special, even if they really know they're just one of a thousand customers. It's therefore important to try and personalize the communication in some way. Whilst we're not suggesting throwing out LOLs or ROFLs, it's important to use any personalised information that the customer's provided, such as their name, in the conversation. Little touches like this will help the whole thing feel less formal. Having said that...
Set the tone for your company
Almost every company has a specific tone of voice that they use in their marketing materials. For instance, a team of high-end solicitors isn't going to communicate with customers in the same way that a small cake shop will. It's therefore important to ensure that all messages being sent on live chat adopt the tone that the company portrays. It would actually be incredibly disconcerting for an injury solicitor hotline to open their conversation with ‘MORNING, STEVE HERE, WHAT DO YOU NEED?’
The chances are that anyone with experience working in a live chat environment will have reached the stage where they can type pretty quickly. It's important, though, to remember that not all customers will be the same, and that they might take quite a while to reply. One of the positives of live chat, of course, is that a few conversations can be had at once, so ensure that the customer is given a more than reasonable amount of time to respond to any questions.
Don't be promotional
Yes, a live chat environment is technically a sales one (usually anyway). However, it’s important to not communicate in a manner that reflects that. The customer is getting in touch because they want to find out more about a service or product. Customers are far more likely to buy a product if it's delivered as part of an excellent customer service experience. It's therefore important to provide genuine value to the customer rather than simply a sales pitch that sounds like its being copied from a brochure!
Remember, the key to success is a happy customer. It’s therefore important to be considerate, helpful and to never make the customer feel pushed into a sale. Treat them with respect, and they’re far more likely to give you their business.