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Grow Your Business Technology

4 Live Chat Practices to Offer Better Customer Service

4 Live Chat Practices to Offer Better Customer Service
Credit: Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock

If you've ever been on a company's website, you might've seen an option for live chat. Live chat is an instant message system that connects customers to customer service reps. If a client has any questions, they can be accommodated without waiting on a list of callers or explaining themselves over the phone.

Live chat is a great option for businesses to provide better customer service. Not only will consumers be satisfied, but your business can use the information from chats to better your products and services.

"Beyond making customers happier, chat provides businesses with rich quantitative and qualitative data," said Karl Pawlewicz, the voice of live chat software Olark. "Businesses can look through real-time chat reports and understand when they're busiest, which pages generate the most questions, what conversations are converting, what topics come up most often, how busy their service team [is], and so much more."

When implementing live chat on your company's site, keep these response practices in mind.

Good customer service directly correlates with a quick response rate. Customers don't want to just sit in front of their computer waiting for a greeting or reply.

"Customers prefer live chat because they can get an answer quickly," said Pawlewicz. "When a customer starts a conversation, start with a quick response … This way, the customer knows they've reached a live person."

Sometimes, customers send frantic messages about a concern that can't be met right away. Joanna Firneno, director of customer success at Muck Rack, stated that Muck Rack manages efficient response rates by assuring every customer their request has been received. If more time is required, they let the client know that they are looking into it.

"This usually calms people, and we will try and prioritize that request – especially if they are on a time crunch," said Firneno.

You're at an advantage with live chat because you can read what a person is saying and think a few moments before typing up a response. However, there is more pressure to note every detail of the conversation.

"It's important when using chat for customer service to understand [in] full what the customer wants to do," said Pawlewicz. "Communication happens quickly over chat, and sometimes what a customer types doesn't fully convey what they're trying to accomplish … Let them fully explain the situation – then ask the right questions before offering a solution. Don't rush to think you immediately know the answer."

If a chat is moving too quickly, slow the pace so you can offer the best replies.

"Be quick to respond, but deliberate in how you solve problems," said Pawlewicz.

While live chats usually justify a friendly, conversational tone, some customers prefer more professional interactions – especially if they are frustrated or apprehensive. You can still be personable, but consider your customer's disposition and concerns before answering.

"Being human and playful is all well and good, but agents should also be able to recognize when it's appropriate and when it's not," said Pawlewicz. "A customer who is frustrated may not appreciate a friendly emoji. A customer who is typing with pristine punctuation and grammar might not appreciate a response that's all lowercase. Agents should be flexible and ready to adapt to their customer's preferences to provide the best possible experience."

Pawlewicz said that if a customer is happy, be happy with them. If they're frustrated, show them you share their concerns and will help them as much as you can.

The reason so many people opt to use live chat is because they value human interaction when seeking help. Make sure you deliver just that.

"Don't be afraid to inject your personality into the conversation," said Pawlewicz. "Be you on chat. Customers will appreciate it and may even come back asking for you the next time."

The more you empathize with a person, the more they'll trust you. Treat your customers as you would a friend in need, while establishing a professional relationship.

"If your team is having fun problem-solving and responding to customers, it will shine through the interactions," said Firneno.

Sammi Caramela

Sammi Caramela has always loved words. When she isn't working as a Purch B2B staff writer, she's writing (and furiously editing) her first novel, reading a YA book with a third cup of coffee, or attending local pop-punk concerts. The only time Sammi doesn't play it safe is when she's writing. Reach her by email, or check out her blog at sammisays.org.