How to Sound More Human Over Live Chat

Communicating with customers over live chat requires a special kind of talent. It’s a mistake to assume that a good phone support agent will be able to replicate their success over live chat.

Providing support on the phone requires a patient and relaxed bearing. In contrast, live chat agents must be multi-taskers who can handle multiple chats efficiently. Further, speaking to customers over live chat can be almost like learning a new language with its own vocabulary, patterns, and sounds.

In this post, we’ll be looking at some of the ways you can train yourself to talk to customers over live chat.

1. Put your Best Foot Forward

You’re not going to get a second chance to make a first impression, so make it count. Although a customer may not be able to see or hear you, your attitude and tone can play a big part in how they perceive you. Similarly, the words you use to communicate can convey a lot of meaning.

Here are some things you should keep in mind when chatting with customers:

  • Be cheerful and polite. Don’t deflect your bad mood onto the customer. Keep your message positive and polite. When the customer is having a problem, your positivity can help alleviate their worry.
  • Don’t be sarcastic. Even if the customer is being difficult, don’t joke or irritate them (unless the situation calls for it). Remain as helpful as you can.
  • Don’t be curt. Use full sentences, punctuation, and complete phrases. Don’t fall into the trap of replying “yes” or “fine” to a customer’s questions. Provide a complete answer, even if it isn’t required. The customer will appreciate it.

In short, when chatting with a customer, make sure you are setting the right tone.

humor over live chat

This is a brilliant example of using humor in customer service. But, leave it to the professionals.

2. Speak your Customer’s Language

Having a rosy attitude is important, but so is speaking in your customer’s language. If they are speaking formally (“Hi, I need help with this”), you should mirror that style and respond accordingly. On the other hand, if they are being conversational, ask them how they are doing and if they are enjoying using your product or service. Not only will it help ease the discomfort some feel when using live chat, you might even learn something useful about your customer base.

Of course, “speaking your customer’s language” also can be a literal requirement. There’s a good chance a large portion of your customers come from a part of the world that does not speak English. In these cases, you should either hire multilingual chat agents (may be expensive) or use some kind of automatic translation tool.

foreign language over live chat

Je ne parle pas françaisa. Attendez, je parle français!!

3. Drop the Jargon

When speaking to customers, many agents make the mistake of over-estimating the customer’s knowledge of the product or service. Always assume the customer knows very little about your offering. So, avoid using jargon when describing features or how they work (“hook it up with our JS API”). Instead, explain things using simple language, and ensure the customer understands what you’re talking about before moving on.

explain each step

Don’t miss a beat. Explain each step clearly.

4. Be a Human, Not a Robot

To avoid language issues altogether, a company might hand out a “style guide” with suggestions about how to respond to customers. However, it’s generally not a good idea to rely on this too much as it can make you sound overly robotic.

Since most companies receive the same set of questions over and over again, they fall into the trap of having template responses. While this can be handy if a customer asks a question exactly like one in the guide, in most cases, you should be trying to answer the customer’s unique query, rather than trying to fit it into one of the fixed responses. At the very least, modify the template answer before sending it to the customer.

And, remember, the key is to solve your customer’s problem. The style guide may not always contain the right answers.

dont script

Drop the script and just talk naturally.

5. Lend a Sympathetic Ear

Instead of simply answering the customer’s questions like a robot, take a minute to put yourself in their shoes and consider the problem from their perspective.

For example, they might be interested in product A, but perhaps product B is better suited to their needs. Instead of mechanically listing the features of both, try and understand their requirements and highlight the reasons why product B is a better choice.

Remember, the customer doesn’t care about a list of features. All they want is a product or service that solves their specific problem.

6. Be Honest and Get it Right

In the example above, you recommended product B to the customer because it was a better solution. But, what if product A was more expensive and so made your company more money?

There’s nothing worse than lying or misleading a customer, especially if it’s with the intention of padding the bottom line. You must always give your honest opinion and clearly lay out all the facts for a customer, so they can make a reasoned decision.

Similarly, if you don’t have the answer to something, don’t lie. Simply tell the customer you don’t have the relevant information or that you’ll find out. Some live chat platforms even allow you to transfer your chat to an agent who might have the answer.

7. Use Technology Appropriately

Most live chat platforms come with handy features like shortcuts, triggers, and departments. These are incredibly effective when serving customers and can help save you time and money. But, it’s important to remember that live chat is intended to create a personal connection between you and a customer. The additional tools should not be a substitute for friendly communication.

So, before using these tools, take a moment to think about whether they would enhance your conversation or merely make things “more efficient.” For example, when creating a Trigger action, ensure it helps engage the right set of customers, rather than pinging everyone.

use chat features wisely

With great power comes great responsibility. Use your live chat platform’s features wisely.

8. Be Personal But Don’t Crowd

Live chat can be very effective in targeting specific customers. Most platforms offer a plethora of information about customers and you should be using all of it to provide better service. Before starting a chat, it’s a good idea to briefly look through the customer’s chat history (if any) to learn about any problems they’ve had in the past, what product or service they have already purchased, and perhaps even their temperament.

Even if it is a customer’s first conversation, you still can find out where they are located (IP address) and what language they speak.

Using these different data points, you can start to engage the customer on a personal level immediately. This kind of service often surprises the customer and ensures their loyalty to your brand.

9. Provide Instant Service

Finally, one of the unique benefits of live chat is that it captures the customer’s attention instantly, unlike email correspondence which can take time. However, the flip side is customers become trained to receive immediate service. In fact, studies have shown that an overwhelming 60% of customers hate waiting longer than a minute before receiving support.

Hence, if you receive a chat request, it’s important to respond as quickly as possible, and ideally in less than 60 seconds. Should you delay, you may lose the interest of the customer altogether.

Once you start talking to the customer, you should aim to be as prompt as possible and answer questions without keeping them waiting. Many customers are likely to leave the conversation if they are not receiving the level of service they expect.

Don’t keep customers waiting.

Live chat is increasing in popularity as customers start demanding greater personal attention while being served. So, take note of the points above to ensure you are prepared as a live chat agent. Ultimately, you must be able to understand your customer’s pain points in human terms and provide a solution that is relevant to them.

About the Author: Abhiroop Basu is a tech and digital media blogger. In the real world, he works as Content Strategist for Zopim and can be found at abhiroopbasu.com.

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