Are you looking for ways to deliver memorable customer experiences over live chat? Wondering what’s the correct live chat etiquette when dealing with customers?
FACT: Companies that focus on customer experiences drive more revenue, gain customer loyalty, and have better employee engagement.
There’s plenty of proof of that. For example, 96% of customers say customer service is vital in their choice of loyalty to a brand. Other research findings confirm that live chat has the highest consumer satisfaction rate at 92%.
So, obviously, providing support via live chat is the way to go. But how do you do it? How do you chat with customers over live chat effectively, and provide a memorable experience at the same time?
Well, that’s what you’re going to learn in this article. Below, you’ll discover the 13 must-follow web chat etiquette rules that’ll help you maximize live chat effectiveness.
13 Live Chat Etiquette Tips For Modern Support Teams
1. Don’t keep the customer waiting
Let’s face it: nobody — especially a customer that (indirectly) pays you to provide support — likes to wait for a response.
So, first response time is and always will be among the most important live chat metrics. On average, consumers had to wait 46 seconds in 2019 to get the first response from a live chat agent. And a typical user expects a response in under a minute.
Your job doesn’t end at an instant first response, though. The support agents must be able to hold all conversations without much delay. Long hold/wait times while interacting with an agent is the primary reason behind bad customer service experiences.
Here are a few tips to reduce waiting period:
- Implement a chatbot to reduce live chat requests. For example, Deloitte’s well-implemented chatbot was able to resolve queries with 90% accuracy.
- Integrate Social Intents. With Social Intents, your live chat support team agents can chat with customers right from Slack or MS Teams – two commonly-used internal communications platforms.
The Social Intents integration allows your support agents to accept chat requests from related channels/groups from the platform they have always open. This leads to a faster response time from the available agent(s).
- Recruit new agents. If the current team cannot handle all chat requests on time, perhaps it’s time to add new live chat agents to the team.
- Use canned responses. Canned responses are pre-written replies to common questions that can help you save time while conversing.
For example, we get “Will Social Intents slow down my site?” question frequently. Therefore, we have a canned response like “Social Intents will not slow down your site. Social Intents may appear to add time to your page load, but what’s happening is called asynchronous loading. This means Social Intents yields to your site, loading as passively as possible, always giving precedence to your site.” ready.
2. Start with a friendly greeting
First impressions last. In customer service, there’s no better first impression than one of friendliness and welcoming. In fact, one in three people says talking to a friendly and knowledgeable representative is the most important aspect of a good customer service experience.
An ideal chat conversation always starts with a friendly and context-driven greeting. Here are a couple of examples of using a context-driven greeting:
- A proactive message for new customers: “Hey [First Name], welcome on board 🙂 I am here to assist in case you need ANY help.”
- Greeting based on page: Set proactive triggers to greet visitors. For instance, “New here? Look around. Just say ‘hi’ if you need any help 😉” would be a good greeting for a first-time visitor.
Here are some general tips for a friendly greeting:
- Be courteous and professional.
- Weave the first message depending on the situation. For example, it’s a good idea to apologize from the get-go if the customer found issues with your product or service.
- Be empathetic. For example, start with “I understand how frustrating it must be for you…” if it’s a product or service complaint.
- Thank the customer for their patience if you weren’t able to connect promptly.
- Address them by their name.
3. Humanize your chat support
A friendly conversation looks less friendly if you don’t seem human enough. To humanize chat support:
- Make your profile picture and designation visible to the customer. [DO NOT mask your chatbots as a live chat agent]
- Introduce yourself. Example: “Hey [First Name]! It’s Pawel from Social Intents. I’ll be assisting you with your [Problem Category] problem(s) today.”
- Use emojis. A typical friendly chat conversation includes emojis. Use them in a professional setting to make the conversation more human-like. For instance, “Hey, I will be assisting you today.” is bland; “Hey! I will be assisting you today :)” is better.
- Joke a little. Humor’s good. Telling a little joke, sharing a relevant meme, replying with a funny GIF…all give a personal touch to the conversation. However, it’s essential to understand the situation and the customer’s sense of humor before doing so.
4. Understand the query properly
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” – Stephen Covey.
Active listening/reading is a customer service representative’s best friend.
- It makes the customer feel heard.
- It helps you understand the query thoroughly and answer it precisely.
Here are a few tips to better your active listening or rather reading skills:
- Focus on the customer’s initial query. Ask for clarification and time to go through it carefully if needed.
- If the customer has asked multiple questions in the message, be ready to answer all individually.
- Do not interrupt. Refrain from typing if you see the user typing.
- Do not judge the customer. Most answers might be obvious to you, but still, customers might not understand it.
5. Keep a positive tone
As mentioned in Tip #2, always start with a friendly greeting — that sets a positive tone from the beginning. Then comes keeping the tone positive throughout the conversation, an essential live chat etiquette.
It’s quite simple — use positive phrases; cut out negative phrases. Here are a few examples:
|Sorry for the delay.||Thanks for your patience 🙂|
|We don’t have that.||It’ll be available in N days. I’ll let you know through email when it’s available.|
|Our engineer is not available right now.||Kindly wait for a couple of hours for our engineer to resolve it.|
|Don’t forget to…||Remember…|
Overall, you should refrain from using negative words like ‘not,’ ‘can’t,’ ‘mistake,’ ‘failure,’ ‘terrible,’ ‘stupid,’ etc. Instead, use ‘thanks,’ ‘kindly,’ ‘please,’ ‘for sure,’ etc.
6. Apologize sincerely
Keeping the tone positive and not taking accountability are two different things. If the customer’s facing an issue(s) because of your (read “your company’s”) mistake, you must make a sincere apology.
For example: “Thanks for your patience :)” works if you weren’t able to respond promptly. However, it’s not the right message if there’s a shipping delay — a more relevant message would be “Hi [First Name], we apologize for the delay. I understand it’s frustrating…”
Here’s how you make your apology sincere:
- Be REALLY sorry.
- Explain why what happened, happened.
- Assure the customer won’t face the same issue again. Or, at least, explain how you’ll handle it better in the future.
7. Keep your messages short and simple
Customers message to find answers and solutions to their questions and problems. They don’t want to read essays, open dictionaries, or ask, ‘Sorry, can you explain what that means?’ throughout the communication.
It’s an essential live chat etiquette to keep your messages concise. Here are a few tips to better live chat communication:
- Use short sentences.
- Don’t use jargon/words the customer might not understand
- Use analogies and metaphors to explain complex ideas.
- Stay on topic to save your and the customer’s time. Chatting to break the ice is a good practice, but customers want answers.
8. Write as you speak
To customers, a formal written message comes out robotic. And as mentioned in Tip #3, we want to humanize our chat support, i.e., make our message look exactly the opposite of a formal message.
Writing as you speak or conversational writing gives the conversation a more approachable and friendly feel. Here are a few tips to make your messages conversational:
- Use short sentences. That’s how we naturally speak. (See what I did there?)
- Use contractions. Instead of ‘I will’ or ‘you are,’ use ‘I’ll’ and ‘you’re.’
- Adress your reader. You are talking to a person, so use ‘you’ and ‘[First Name]’ wherever possible.
- Add interjections. Use ‘Ohh,’ ‘Phew,’ ‘Ahh,’ ‘Woops,’ ‘Duh,’ and likes wherever appropriate.
9. Watch out for grammar and spelling errors
You want to be friendly, but you are not the customer’s friend. At the end of the day, you are a professional whose duty is to help. And one of the basic requirements of being a chat professional is good grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
To avoid grammar and spelling errors, use a tool like Grammarly or ProWritingAid.
10. Be proactive
Not exactly a live chat etiquette, but a good live chat practice is to be proactive. Quickly look through previous conversations the customer has had with the support team — it will help you understand the situation better. It will also save the customer the time and effort of repeating themself.
For example, if the customer has already sent an email asking the same question but hasn’t received a reply, address that and apologize.
Side Note: Using proactive live chat to engage website visitors is a good practice.
11. End on a high note
People remember last impressions even more than they remember the first impression, especially in a setting where it was your job to solve some issue. Here are few messages you can use at the end of a successful conversation to make a positive impact:
- “Thank you for your patience. I am happy that I was able to help :)”
- “Thanks for choosing us. We hope you are satisfied with…”
- “Let me know if I can help you with anything else.”
- “Feel free to contact us anytime. We are eager to help 24/7/365 :)”
- “Have a great day!”
12. Ask for feedback
Over time, I have shared many guides and tips to use live chat effectively- triggers for visitor engagement, live chat for lead generation, live chat for memorable customer service, live chat for sales, and more.
However, all those guides merely give you a general idea of where to start, how to start, and/or what to do. The customer is the judge and jury in the end. So, asking for their feedback is perhaps the most helpful-to-you live chat etiquette. Ask them to fill a form/survey to find at least one of these scores:
- Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT),
- Net Promoter Score (NPS),
- Customer Effort Score (CES),
Improve based on customer feedback and try to uplift the average score.
13. Keep your promises
All the live chat etiquette tips will fail to bring you the benefits live chat brings if you break this post-web chat etiquette: Keep your promises.
Sometimes, live chat agents promise to solve the customer’s issue but fail to do so. That’s the worst customer experience you can create.
Not over-promising and being honest is one of the fundamental live chat etiquettes. For example, if the customer asks to deliver something before X date and you guarantee them that, you must ensure they get it before that date – it doesn’t matter if you have to take a loss by paying extra for express shipping.
A bad experience and a negative word of mouth will harm your company more than a slight loss.
Like social etiquette rules are crucial to surviving in societies, following the above-mentioned live chat etiquette rules are essential to surviving in business.
There’s competition. You can’t reply late every time. Nor can you afford to break the promises you made during a live chat session. You will lose loyal customers and gain a bad rep (because of social media, especially) if you don’t follow proper etiquette.
The last paragraph might sound scary, but it’s not. All you need to avoid the worst is positively impact the customer before, during, and after the live chat session. And the chat etiquette tips you read above will help with just that.