If you’re like many businesses today, you offer several avenues for customers to get in touch—such as phone, email, and social media. If live chat support is also on the menu, you know simply adopting mainstream technology to communicate with customers isn’t enough: Your chat support team needs the appropriate tools to provide customers with a wonderful experience.
Chat services have a 92% customer satisfaction rate when deployed properly, and 41% of customers say it is their preferred support method. In fact, 63% of consumers who use the live chat feature are likely to return to your website after a good experience. The key, however, is to provide excellent customer service—effectively, efficiently, and professionally.
Here are six steps you can take to improve your chat customer service.
6 steps for better live chat customer service
First, some good news: You won’t need a new rulebook for chat customer support. As with phone, email, or in-person support, your best bet is to always treat people with respect, care, and empathy. Chat customer support just takes a slightly different skill set.
1 Be responsive: Picture your website as a physical store and try to run it accordingly. You wouldn’t leave your counter unstaffed. At the very least, you’d try to hang a “Back in 5” sign for confused visitors. The same should go for your online support services. Let people know how long they should expect to wait and keep that wait as short as possible. Try these suggestions to bolster your efficiency:
- Set benchmarks for how quickly employees must respond
- Tip: Response time should be under one minute.
- Set alerts for when new inquiries are submitted
- Follow up preemptively
- Tip: To keep inquiries—and wait times—down, consider adding a list of common questions and answers to your support page.
2 Keep it short: After the initial response, each subsequent message should be just as prompt. Instead of long, wordy paragraphs, keep your answers concise. If a reply requires more than a couple of sentences, break the sections up to avoid long blocks of text that might confuse or annoy customers.
- Good: “Good morning (customer full name), Thank you for reaching out to customer support. I’d be happy to assist you with your concerns today. It seems you are having trouble getting a refund regarding your most recent purchase totaling ($$). Is that correct?”
- Best practice: “Good morning (customer first name), Thank you for your inquiry. I’m happy to assist you.”
Break“You requested a refund for ($$). Is that correct?”Break“Thank you… (cont’d)
3 Use simple language: If someone’s using chat customer service, they’re probably juggling at least two other tasks as well. Help them out and keep your answers clear, positive, and simple. Similarly, avoid unnecessary jargon, long words, or abbreviations. You both have the same goal, and a confused customer won’t get either of you closer to a helpful solution.
- “Despite the fact that” → “Although”
- “comes equipped with” → “includes”
- “The truth is that” → –delete-
4 Use text snippets: Customer service and sales teams tend to experience repetitive conversations with customers. Monotonous typing opens more possibilities for communication mistakes. Grammarly’s snippet feature allows you to templatize answers to common questions and save time. You can even use shortcuts to auto-populate snippets and optimize your time further. The following examples can all be saved to your snippet library and inserted into your writing with the touch of a button.
- Standard replies
- “What can I help you with today?”
- “Thank you for reaching out!”
- Answers to frequently asked questions
- “You can find our price matching policy on our ‘Price Matching’ page here: [URL].” (use “PM” as the keyboard shortcut)
- “Yes, I would be happy to help you with that return.” (use “RT” as the keyboard shortcut)
- Repeated phrases
- “Let me know if you have any more questions!” (use “lmk” as the keyboard shortcut)
- Standard replies
5 Consider tone: Maintaining a consistent brand tone of voice directly affects how customers receive your communications. You want to keep a positive, professional tone that ensures a personal connection with individuals. People are much more likely to return to businesses that make them feel heard and valued.
- Tip: Create or utilize a premade company style guide with tone analysis, accessible to all team members to ensure consistency.
6 Ask questions: It’s important that you fully understand the customer’s issues when assisting them. After you’ve resolved their concern, ask additional questions that are appropriate to the situation.
- “Is there anything else you’d like to share with me today?”
- “How do you feel about the service you received?”
- “What can we do to improve your experience?”
Taking these steps will lead your team in the right direction, but it’s only half the battle. Now it’s time to look at live chat’s potential pitfalls and think about how we can solve them.
The challenges of chat customer service—and how to overcome them
The best way to defend yourself against customer communication problems is to be aware of pitfalls before they arise. Don’t wait until you’re caught in the middle of a difficult situation. Here are some common challenges your team may be encountering with chat customer service and how to improve them.
Whenever a member of your team is chatting with a customer, it’s the team member’s responsibility to ensure the customer understands the message they’re delivering. At the same time, it’s critical to truly understand what the customer is saying as well.
If your team member, the customer they’re chatting with, or both aren’t understanding something fully, the important thing is to ask questions. It’s better to clarify information as much as possible instead of guessing to fill in the gaps. Here are some steps to take to remedy the situation:
1 Ask the customer for permission to discuss the situation in more detail. By getting their consent to go in-depth, you now have a willing participant in rectifying any miscommunications.
2 Ask specific questions about their inquiry—and listen. A customer’s reality may be different from yours, and it’s important to respect that. If you don’t acknowledge where they’re coming from, you won’t get far in clarifying the situation.
3 Pinpoint the source of the misunderstanding. Asking questions will help identify where the conversation took a wrong turn. Doing this increases your chances of inviting a much lighter tone from the customer and getting closer to a solution.
4 Confirm your understanding of the situation with the customer and move forward.
Difficulty conveying the correct tone
The tone of the conversation impacts the outcome of any customer interaction. Live chat’s text-only medium complicates this reality. Without facial expressions or voices to convey and understand meaning, your team will have to rely entirely on written tone.
The first step in ensuring everyone conveys the correct tone for your business is to decide how you want your brand to be seen. Are you an energetic company? Bold? Or perhaps you want to be a casual, friendly brand. Whatever aligns with your mission and values, use it.
You can then use a tone analysis tool to measure and calibrate the emotions your writing is conveying. Afterward, save your preferences as a brand tone profile that your team can access at any time.
Impersonal responses and solutions
Many of us have, at one point, played both parts in this scenario: a customer reaching out for help from a company only to be met with robotic, scripted responses from the tired person on the other end. Sometimes, a simple “Good morning [customer first name], how are you doing today?” can make a world of difference.
- Use the customer’s name, introduce yourself, and start a friendly dialogue.
- Use personal pronouns like “I” and “you” as frequently as possible to establish and maintain a personal connection.
- Treat each chat like you would an in-person interaction; give the other person your full focus.
Don’t be discouraged—act quickly if you find yourself or your team facing any (or all) of these challenges. Take steps to improve chat customer service for your business, prepare yourself for any challenges, and help your teams excel. Remember, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Improve chat customer service with Grammarly Business
The core components of customer service are respect, understanding, and efficiency. Live chat offers ample opportunities for all three, especially if you give your team the right training and tools to guarantee success.
Grammarly Business helps teams write confidently and feel secure that chat services are being executed professionally, effectively, and efficiently. Our AI-powered writing assistant, style guides, snippet tool, and other features help you deliver five-star customer support, all while saving time, driving engagement, and improving customer satisfaction. Set your team up for success, and contact us today.