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When you chat with a customer in a shop, it’s usually easy to adapt your service to each query. For online customer service agents, this adaptability is harder. After all, your conversations are unfolding through a keyboard, and you don’t have facial cues, body language or tone of voice to help you.

But with more and more customer service interactions happening online, a successful chat session could mean the difference between a sale and a fail; a return customer and a lost one. It’s crucial, then, to offer the best chat experience possible.

But what makes for a winning live chat conversation? Here’s our step-by-step anatomy of a successful chat session, from start to finish.

Greetings

Online, the hand that waves at your customers is that chat button on your site. When a visitor clicks to chat with you, it’s the equivalent of a customer approaching you in-store. You need to respond with the warmth and readiness you would face to face.

So, in a successful chat session, the agent is quick to accept the chat and doesn’t keep the visitor waiting. Visitors wouldn’t be ignored in a physical shop, after all.

Once the chat is initiated, you should identify the visitor and give a personal greeting. If you don’t already have the visitor’s name from a pre-chat survey form, then ask for it. Using someone’s name is a fast way to start building that all-important personal connection. It signals to the customer that they’re being listened to directly, and your responses will seem more genuine. Using a name gives the chat session a friendly face from the start.

In fact, the more personalised you can make the chat, the better. It tells the customer: ‘I know you and you matter to the company’, which would help anyone feel important.

Breaking the ice

Avoid launching straight into business. Be friendly. A massive part of what makes a chat session successful is the relationship established. In fact, according to research, almost 70% of customers leave if they think you don’t care. So, show them that you do.

For a successful chat session, first say hello, and ask for the customer’s name before discussing business. If the chat starts with a customer complaint,  you should apologise first and look to solve the issue second. Customers like it when their concerns are validated, and when companies accept responsibility if something has gone wrong.

The human touch

Attentive service is the most important part of a successful chat session, and the human touch is important when it comes to customer service.

The human touch comes through by showing empathy. If the customer is upset, you should react accordingly. An empathetic voice can be achieved with apologies, and the avoidance of using too many canned responses, which can make you seem disinterested or robotic to the customer.

If in doubt, always ask questions. Never make assumptions with your customers. If details end up in crossed wires, customers can end up feeling irritated and not listened to. This can be avoided by asking and clarifying any confusing issues. It’s simple but essential stuff.

Plus, asking questions will make the customer feel included, and shows that their experience is valued. In turn, this adds to those personal relationships that encourage loyalty.

Finding solutions

The aim of a successful live chat session is being able to demonstrate active, efficient service. The customer can’t see what you’re doing, but they want to know that you are taking them seriously and trying to help them. Unfortunately, leaving customers in the dark can also leave them unhappy.

In a successful chat session, you should avoid saying ‘no’ as much as possible. Instead, look for solutions or workarounds for tricky issues. If you get stuck or are struggling, you can ask colleagues for help or ask the customer for more information.

Whenever you do anything to help your customer, you should always let your customer know what you’re doing. Remember that they cannot see your efforts, and don’t know if you’re sat ignoring them or actively working on their query.

The customer will be happy to wait a little longer if you explain what you’re doing, and assure them along the way. In other words, put in the effort and show it, and your customers will appreciate it.

Taking your leave

The back of the live chat session is the end. You’ve gotten this far successfully, but the wrong sign-off could still derail the chat. Make sure that the customer feels supported, rather than given the cold shoulder.

Successful chat endings come from agents that avoid abrupt goodbyes. Signing off suddenly signals to the customer that you don’t want to talk with them. This signal can cause upset or annoyance, even if the rest of the chat was successful. Sudden sign-offs are often considered rude, and will leave a bad taste in the customer’s mouth. When ending the chat, always confirm that the customer is happy.  Thank them, and invite them to chat again whenever the need arises. By doing these three things, it’s impossible for the end of the chat to be sudden. Remember: showing gratitude to a customer is the backbone of a good customer relationship.

Successful chat conversations leave customers happy with your service and welcome to return and chat again. They involve ensuring active, attentive support in every step of the chat journey.

Adapted from: Whoson.com

 

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