Chat is a tool which enables you to interact with your visitors in real-time. It’s a relatively new way of communicating which involves specific communication skills. Indeed, when you deal with your customers’ queries by chat, there are a few simple rules to respect which will make sure the conversation is energetic and clear. The last thing you want is to scare off a potential customer by getting the chat etiquette wrong!
Even with chat, tone of voice is key
Communicating by chat is very different from talking on the phone. One of the reasons for this is that it is much more difficult to transmit the tone and energy which are natural in a “normal” conversation. Even if some visitors spontaneously use smily faces and expressions specific to chat and email like “lol”, agents should probably avoid using them as it may come across as too familiar. However, this strongly depends on the brand’s image and the company size.
The use of capital letters is also discouraged, as its the written version of shouting, “WHAT DO YOU MEAN”?
Liven up the conversation
The first impression is often close to the truth and to make a good impression, you need to be fast; you need to make sure you answer the visitor’s first question as soon as possible. If an agent is busy, it’s better to answer to say “Hello, I’ll be with you in a moment” than not at all.
It’s easy for a visitor to close the chat window and put an end to a conversation. Therefore, it’s important to liven up the exchange with quick responses; sometimes the agent may need to send reminders to the visitor. Try to stick to short sentences sent on a regular basis rather than long phrases which would break the flow.
Forget phone protocol
Your visitors want to get straight to the point and be rid of all the usual formalities involved in writing letters or making phone calls. Indeed, don’t forget that visitors choose click to chat because they want a real-time and efficient conversation, where they don’t have to worry about the social rules associated with making a call.
Some forms of address which are often a bit stuffy are clearly not appropriate in a chat conversation. However, like in all customer relations, politeness rules!
Using canned responses
Canned responses answers are sentences which will appear to the agent when he starts typing the first letters of a sentence or of a key word. These canned responses answers enable the agent to significantly reduce the time taken to input an answer for sentences which come up a lot: greetings, thank you, farewells. They can also be used to answer recurring questions about specific topics (delivery time, accepted methods of payment, etc).
However, canned responses should not be used excessively to avoid giving the visitor the impression he’s speaking to a virtual assistant.
If you want to use the pre-recorded answers, it’s best to prepare short answers, which seem natural. For example “Hello, is there anything I can do to help?” sounds more natural than “Hello, how may I help you?” …
Don’t go over the top
It’s also important to remember that live chat is what enables you to make online customer service less impersonal. In most cases, it’s better if the chat agent’s answers are spontaneous and customised, so the visitor’s needs are met and the exchange is as human as possible. Avoid standard sentences and rigid pre-set conversations, trust your chat agent’s spontaneity!
With a live chat tool, you can also send your visitors a link, a commercial offer or a request to co-browse. It is essential to always inform the visitor before you send this kind of content. With regards to co-browsing, you have to ask for the visitor’s approval before activating the option.