Category Archives: Knowledgebase

Effectively Using Live Chat

Chat is a powerful tool for keeping in contact with your customers, and we’re proud

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of how Conversion Support strengthens our clients’ bottom line. Whenever we work with a new customer, we remind them of something crucial: More important that the actual tool is how you use it.

A company could employ the sharpest customer-facing live chat interface, but without the sharpest operators using it to communicate the right information to customers, chat’s just not going to work. Chat supports your customer relationships; these best practices support chat.

1. Ask targeted questions.
Outcome-oriented queries keep customer-to-representative chats moving along. Customers and companies love that. Nobody likes wasted time. Your chat operators need to ask the correct questions to gather accurate information, and then use that information to deliver a substantive response.

Auto sales is a terrific example. One of our most prolific

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chat users works in this industry, and they make a practice out of asking five question types that regularly deliver solid leads (and happy customers).

If you’re in a customer-facing industry, what top five questions do your customer service agents regularly ask?

2. Don’t fall back on cliched phrases to pad responses or buy time.
When a phone representative drones through an overused phrase meant to rhetorically soften a request, my cortisol levels palpably rise. Please don’t patronize your customers by saying how happy you are to look up their purchase order for them. Just do it, and deliver your response succinctly, clearly, and correctly. Be friendly without being fake or saccharine.

A successful chat is a human-to-human interaction—that’s the beauty of live chat!—so why revert to machinelike, preset phrases that don’t mean

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anything? That’s subverting the implicit message of live chat. Despite the digital delivery system, you’re still two humans conversing in real-time. So be human.

3. Put experts in charge.
Live answers are useless if they’re wrong. We’ve found that the most successful users of live chat are the companies that put experts front-and-center, facing their customers. Again, if a customer is chatting with you, they’re engaged. They’ll get frustrated if they have to wait too long for the right answers. Dodge that bullet by making sure your live chat operators know their stuff.

4. Make sure chat enhances your customers’ experience.
That means you’ve got to give them something worthwhile: An answer, an insight, a mollified concern, even a friendly, capable personality to embody your brand. Think of live chat as a product for your customers and an investment for you. Live chat gives you sales leads and a stronger connection to your customer base. What, specifically, can live chat give your customers?

Live Chat Success Tips for Non-Native English Speakers (and Native English Speakers Too!)

As a product manager for live chat software, I’ve observed that success with chat doesn’t necessarily depend on what software used but how the software is used! Most recently, I read about an Earthlink Customer’s online experience with a chat representative who is obviously a non-native English speaker. The agent, who calls herself Jane D, used the phrase “do the needful” while engaged in the chat. The question posed by Leslie O’Flahavan of Writing Matters is “Does odd wording harm the quality of customer service chat?”

The answer to this question is that the odd wording did not harm the chat. Unlike website copy, which is expected to be very formal, grammatically correct, and well written, real-time communication is afforded some leeway. For reference, I’ll include the chat from Writing Matters below:

Welcome to EarthLink LiveChat. Your chat session will begin in approximately 0 minutes. Feel free to begin typing your question.
  • Jane D” says: Thank you for contacting EarthLink LiveChat, how may I help you today?
  • LMO@earthlink.net: I want to cancel my earthlink account
  • Jane D: I am sorry to know that you wish to cancel the account.
  • Jane D: Please may I know the reason as to why you are looking to cancel the account with EarthLink?
  • LMO@earthlink.net: I don’t need the account any more
  • LMO@earthlink.net: Please confirm that you will close out the account and that I will not be billed for service after today, October 27
  • Jane D: That is Okay, I understood.
  • Jane D: I will certainly help you in this regard.
  • Jane D: Here I would like to inform you that, At chat we are limited to give the information but the cancellation involves your verbal agreement so please contact us on the voice number 888 327 8454 (working hours 7am – midnight EST M-F or 8am – 10pm EST Sat/Sun) and one of the associates will put in the best effort to help you do the needful today.
  • LMO@earthlink.net: I don’t want to call in. I want to cancel my account in writing.
  • Jane D: As per our cancellation policy, I cannot cancel your account through Live Chat. If you wish to cancel your account, please send a request by Fax to 404-795-1034, including your account number,email address, your contact information and the reason of the cancellation.
  • LMO@earthlink.net: OK, I will do that
  • Jane D: Thank you.
  • Jane D: Is there anything else I can assist you with?
  • LMO@earthlink.net: No, thank you
  • Jane D: Thank you for using EarthLink Live Chat. Should you need further assistance, please contact us again.
  • Jane D: You have a wonderful day ahead!

Jane D’s chat did not “do the needful” simply because she didn’t solve the problem, she took too long to communicate that she couldn’t help, and she acted as if everything was okay — “You have a wonderful day ahead!” — even though the customer was clearly not happy with the result. This had absolutely nothing to do with her accent and everything to do with her lack of control of the conversation and inability to be proactive.

First, let me make it clear that chat agents don’t necessarily have to solve the problem completely if they can at least get the ball rolling for you. For instance, Jane D. could have transferred the customer to a phone rep using click to call or some similar functionality that would schedule a callback. While not optimal, most people would at least feel like they were farther along than when they first initiated contact.
The second problem, which I see a lot when call centers are involved in taking chats, is that the language is just way too formal and lengthy. In most cases, we as customers just want to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible, without the bubbly attitude and lengthy chat messages.
In short, it shouldn’t take several chat messages just to get to the point where Jane D. breaks the bad news to you that she is unable to help. Instead, I always suggest a more direct approach, such as in this example below:

  • Jane D: Thank you for contacting Earthlink Live Chat, how may I help you today?
  • LMO@earthlink.net: I want to cancel my account
  • Jane D: I’m sorry you want to cancel, but we do require verbal authorization. The quickest way to accomplish this is to call 1-888-xxx-yyyy and press 4, or send a Fax to 888-yyy-xxxx.
  • Jane D: Please include your account number,email address, your contact information and the reason of the cancellation.
Done!
Third, chat agents must under all circumstances maintain control of the conversation: Don’t say you can help — “I will certainly help you in this regard.” — and then in your next virtual breath say — “Here I would like to inform you that, At chat we are limited to give the information…” — which implies you cannot help after all. You can always help, even if you don’t or can’t completely solve the problem. By taking charge and giving the customer the cancellation number, you have helped. You have helped narrowed the list of ways that the customer cannot find the answer, similar to how Thomas Edison found 10,000 ways not to power a light bulb. Don’t ever say that you can’t help with the specific request. It just angers the customer. Let them figure that out on their own, because when you say you cannot help, you hand the control of the conversation off to the customer, and once you lose control, the conversation is going to head in directions that are not going to be good for anyone.

Lastly, I want to address the issue of non-native English speakers and dispel the myth that American customer service cannot be successful outside of the United States. This is an important point for non-native English speakers and customer service managers alike. We happen to be a global company and many members of our development and support team are located in India. “Do the needful” is a very common phrase there. It’s not used because they’re non-native English speakers but because Indian English still consists of a lot of phrases that were common in early 20th century American and British English.
Our engineers take sales and support chats and do an excellent job of doing so. They are successful because they know the product, and they’re successful because we’ve learned that non-native U.S. English speakers, and those who do natively speak English but not American English, can still be very successful in a live chat with proper training. The secret to success, for anyone, whether you’re a native English speaker or not, is to do the following:
  • Keep it short. Keep it simple.
  • Solve the problem quickly.
  • If you can’t solve the problem, refer the customer to another department immediately, or gather information to get the process started. Respect the customer’s time.
  • Do not ever say you can’t solve the problem, and don’t say it’s not your department… ever! Offer solutions instead, even if they aren’t the optimal solutions. This helps you maintain control of the conversation.
  • Most importantly, be yourself! It’s okay for the end user to know you’re not an American English speaker. In my experience, the shorter, more direct chats generally are the ones that result in my problem being solved, not the lengthy, overly formal opposites.
  • Occasional spelling and grammar errors are okay. You’re not writing a published thesis, you’re just solving a problem. Of course, gross errors or very frequent errors will make you look unprofessional, so don’t get too comfortable.
I want to emphasize one of the above points. The longer you postpone the end of the chat, the more likely it is that the customer won’t accept any alternative solutions you offer. The most effective strategy is to strike fast! Immediately refer the user to someone who can help, if you are personally unable to. If you can do that, you’ll have a happier experience on both ends of the conversation. Long, delayed explanations just foster suspicion, distrust, and dissatisfaction.
I have a similar chat example that I’ve written about in Turning Bad Live Chat
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into Successful Live Chat. Our example shows a bad chat with a Native English speaking agent and how that chat could look with a slightly different approach that involves giving chat agents good questions they can ask to help them take control of the conversation.

We love to hear success stories! If you have a success story from following these tips, please let us know in the comments below.

How to Install Live Online Chat on Your Website

With most websites, installing Conversion Support’s live online chat takes less than ten minutes

To help, I’ve outlined the two steps to install our Live Chat JavaScript code on your site

(Before installing the code, log in to your website control panel or use whatever you normally use to edit your website’s HTML

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)

1

The Live Chat JavaScript Code

Insert this code near the bottom of your site’s pages, right before the closing tag; you’ll have more success installing if you place the script tag in this location

Also, be sure to replace “XXX” with the 10-digit client ID we sent in your welcome email

2

The Live Chat Icon(s)

Live Chat

conversionsupport

com/contact-us

html”>contact us so we can set you up quickly and painlessly

But if you’re a do-it-yourselfer, start with these troubleshooting steps:

I Don’t See The Chat Icon

When I Click The Live Chat Icon, Nothing Happens

  • Check near the bottom of the page for the script tag

    Did you place the