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Live Chat Helps win customer loyalty By Joanna Jones If your company has implemented live chat as part of its customer service offerings, then you’ll want to make sure you are realizing this feature’s full potential. Live Chat can and should go beyond simply servicing the customer; it should be seen as a means to provide customer satisfaction and in turn help win customer loyalty. Live Chat can be a powerful tool, but if you want to maximize its effectiveness, make sure you are providing the proper training and structure around its use. There are myriad ways to realize the full potential of live chat, and this article will highlight three key areas: customer-representatives’ knowledge regarding your product, his/her tone and behavior when conducting a live-chat session, and technical aspects of delivering a quality and satisfactory experience for the customer when employing live chat. Knowledge For your live chat operator to be successful, he/she needs to be knowledgeable of what your company can offer and provide. Your live chat representative needs to be familiar with the multiple channels of customer-service support and delivery and be able to provide answers to the customer in the quickest way possible. Live chat training should be ongoing to make sure the representative is current on the product offerings and promotions that will best benefit the company and the customer. The live chat representative also needs to be clear on what he/she can provide and not over-promise and under-deliver! Knowledge isn’t limited to your company’s products; it also extends to grammar, spelling and punctuation. Strong writing skills are critical to conveying an accurate message and upholding the company brand. Training should include proper use of grammar, spelling and punctuation, as mistakes made in these areas can cause your customer to doubt the level of professionalism and service provided by your company. Consider also that your customer-representative shouldn’t try and ‘wow’ your customer with his/her knowledge by using excess jargon or acronyms. The best outcomes in live chat service delivery happen when the operator and your customer are speaking the same language. Your live chat operator may be doing some behind-the-scenes technical wizardry to solve or answer the customer’s problem, but what gets communicated to the customer should be easily understood by him/her. Tone and Behavior Professionalism is paramount. It is important that your live chat representative always remains focused on solving the issue and staying on topic. Being able to listen well and decipher what the customer is trying to communicate is key. Often when customers are typing their questions or inquiries, they are cryptic in their communication. This can be because they are unsure of how to word an issue, or they are looking for a quick answer and want to avoid making a phone call to your company. The live chat representative needs to be able to decode what the customer is trying to get at, and as you can imagine, this takes time and training. The tone of the communication needs to be always courteous and professional. Humor should be avoided, as it can often be misinterpreted by the customer. Responses should be clear and concise, but offer more than a simple yes/no. A brief explanation following a yes or no can often answer the next question the customer may have. Using precise and simple questions will allow the live chat operator to quickly locate the issue and deal with it. Live chat is a two-way street and the operator must communicate with your customer and describe his/her actions. Your live chat operators should inform your customers if they need time to gather more information to provide an answer or solution. Simple phrases such as, “Please hold on while I look into this”; “Allow me a few minutes to get that information for you”; or “Please wait while I check on that” assure the customer that the live chat operator is still engaged, but may not be communicating for a few minutes. You may want to avoid the customer having to type, “Are you still there?” Achieving the proper tone and efficiency in live-chat communications requires a blend of canned and free-form responses. Many chat customers can pick up on when they’re getting a boilerplate answer, so when using canned text, review it to ensure its relevancy to the conversation before hitting send. Customers expect valuable answers in real-time and properly prepared canned responses do allow the operator to handle several chat sessions at once without diminishing quality. Technical Tips When the customer opts to use your live chat function, he/she is still looking for a humanized interaction. Building trust between your customer and live chat operator can happen more quickly by using a real photo and real name of the operator. Provide your live chat operators with the proper resources to quickly and accurately respond to the customer. Application tools such as toggle screens, quick account look-ups, and remote desktop access are a few tools that allow for speedy response times. Customer-facing features are also important technical tools for the customer. Features such as hours of operation, queue position, wait times, typing notification, and ability to change font size provide immediate answers to your customers, and these options allow them to interact with a live chat screen that is easier and more suitable for them. Reactive versus Proactive Chat There are two types of chat: reactive and proactive. Your company should employ both. Reactive chat allows the customer to opt in, whereas proactive chat allows you to reach out to the customer. While you don’t want to barge in by immediately asking a customer if he/she wants to chat, you can customize your software to begin a proactive chat when the customer has spent excessive time on a product page, when the customer has large shopping cart values, or when multiple search inquiries have provided no matching results. Live chat is a powerful tool in providing customer-service. The benefits to your company are more than financial. Similar to other investments in servicing your customer, live chat requires forethought and training so that you can realize the full potential of this tool. By providing a live chat option that is well thought out and structured, your company will not only see a positive return-on-investment, it will also see an increase in repeat customers who are loyal to your brand. SSE Joanna Jones is Marketing Manager, Products, at Miller Heiman, Inc. Joanna is a professional copywriter and marketing strategist who has partnered with Impact Learning Systems for two years. As a marketing professional, Joanna works closely with customer service teams and helps companies improve their B2B and B2C communications and strategy. Email joanna@jgjmarketing.com 18 Submit your Articles sales and service excellence essentials presented by HR.com | 10.2014


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