26 June 2014
Using Online Chat Software - How (not) to do the Robot
Canned responses are already being used for email and social media replies to provide a fast answer to people who contact your company. Once you’ve decided on the specific tone of voice you would like to adopt, it’s only a matter of drafting up a set of prepared replies and training your designated chat operators when to use them.
Prepared answers are great because they don’t just make your team more efficient, they can also answer questions that would otherwise have your chat operator pulling their hair out. At Click4Assistance we are in regular contact with our subscribers and, despite pre-defined being a flexible tool, we discovered there were primarily two situations where they are used:
1. For sharing popular content: Visitors to your website are always looking for something, whether it’s more information on your product or service, support or more in-depth information.
Using a canned response that offers to transfer the file they need or that already includes a link to the content can save your operators from having to answer the same questions over and over again. FAQs, whitepapers and product guides are all examples of documents that can be disseminated through live chat software.
2. To answer difficult or complex questions, e.g. a website visitor initiates an online chat to ask whether the company would be interested in sponsoring a charity event.
It’s unlikely that your operator will take this enquiry further (unless of course the event is in-line with the company’s industry). However, a simple ‘no’ isn’t appropriate in this situation. A well-written and considerate pre-defined reply is the best way to let the individual down. It should also include an explanation as to why the company cannot commit to these kinds of enquiries. Pre-defined replies are one of the strongest features of online chat software, so it makes sense to optimise their use.
Word of Warning
Canned responses are great for the above situations, but they can also go horribly wrong if used out of context. Chat operators that spam pre-defined replies are in danger of sounding like robots and can frustrate your website visitors. It’s all about picking the right response and adding a personal touch. Each answer should be personalised so that it is specific for the situation. During training it’s important to make this clear to your chat operators. It will make them sound more human and increase the chance of resolving a customer’s issue on first contact.
There are countless examples of canned responses going wrong and they can be a marketing nightmare if they go viral because the public finds them particularly amusing. The lesson to be learnt from these spammers of canned responses is that the feature within online chat software to use pre-defined replies is not to blame, but rather the company’s approach towards using them.
Whether they are used in emails, social media or live chat, pre-defined replies should be used as a support tool
Your operators should always be looking to edit their response. Taking a couple seconds before hitting sent to make sure the message is relevant can make all the difference to your customers. Don’t have your employees do the robot.