So what does Miss Manners have to do with live chat, chat operators and customer engagement? Lots… come to think of it. Although there is not a rulebook, codebook or officially sanctioned compliance manual for live chat operators available today, Many of the training strategies you may have evolved over the years in-house are probably based on experience and common sense strictures. Here are a few that you can add to your list if they are not featured already with more to follow in next month’s newsletter:
Above Board Communication
Good communication is key to a positive chat experience for your online customers and therefore your live chat operators need to remain polite and courteous at all times regardless of how customers behave. The language needs to be formal with minimal use of slang and certainly no use of expletives. Live help is meant to help and not to argue, debate or badger. Your chat agents should start with a polite introduction and move to the service platform immediately without delay. Irate customers? The rules of engagement do not change.
Time is of the Essence
Your live chat agents need to be on their toes at all times—picking up live chat queries instantly, responding to questions, and resolving customer issues in a timely manner. Customers do not like to wait for chat responses in the same way in which they do not like to be placed on hold for long durations when using customer support telephone lines.
Communicating Accurate Information
Before you put your live chat operators on the firing line, assign them the critical task of becoming 100% familiar with your domain, product line and policies. Even 90% familiarity is not enough because at no time can you afford to mislead your site visitors. Your live chat operators will also have to take the time to ensure that they are not only familiar with your canned message library but are knowledgeable enough in that they serve up the right canned message for the right inquiry.
Judith Martin has much to say about how chat interactions should be conducted in cyber space. Her advice is clear-cut—never forget etiquette since the spaces covered by cyber space is no different from the “real world experience.” Martin’s observations are not merely astute, they border poignancy:
There is human contact without any sign of human presence.
There are no facial expressions to communicate feelings and reactions; there are no tones of voice like those that can make telephone conversations intimate; there are no hints like those once coded in handwriting or stationery, to give the reader a sense of the sender's personality, and there is not even much time to consider the words being written. There is only that collection of strangers typing their words to other bodiless ciphers on a screen. Is it any wonder, then, that there should be problems with on-line behavior?