Live Chat Customer ServiceLive Chat is an optional offering for customer service organizations. According to a recent study in Business News Daily, Live Chat for Online Shoppers Comes of Age, one in five shoppers actually prefer live chat over other methods of communication.

It is estimated that over 75% of on line shoppers will have participated in an online chat with a retailer by next year.

12 Best Practices

1. Chat should be easily available when the customer goes looking for support. I have seen a floating screen scroll across the page  offering on line chat when I go to some websites and don’t immediately click somewhere. Make sure it is visible and easy to engage.

2. Some chat offerings are only available in a limited number of countries. That should be communicated so those who come to the support page and try to access chat, don’t get a surprise that it is not available for them. Ideally, the website should be able to determine what geography a visitor is from and only show the chat offering to those who are able to access it.

3. Chat should be available when customers want to access it. Sadly I have seen some chat services that are only available during business hours in a few time zones, such as the US. If that is the case, at minimum let customers know when chat is being monitored or not show the offering prominently during non supported hours.

4. Chat should be monitored. If chat is not available (see points 2 and 3 above), then the offering should state that or not be  prominently ‘promoted’ as in point 1 above.

5. Chat support personnel should be knowledgeable in all areas of service or a method to stream the customer to the staff skilled in their problem area should be part of the chat offering.

6. When a customer tries to engage the chat process,  response  from support should be immediate. Otherwise, the user should be notified how many people are in the queue before them or how soon they might be responded to.

7. Entitlement to support should be handled up front and should be quick and easy. If the customer is not entitled to support, they should have the option to chat with someone who can arrange  for access or check why their credentials are not valid.

8. Pace the conversation to the customer. The chat service representative needs to work at the speed of the customer. In some cases, I have been involved in personally, the service representative was supporting multiple customers and there was a long delay between my message and feedback from the service representative.

9. Limit the use of of canned (scripted) responses. Customers can tell if the response is canned or personal. Personal is better.

10. The agents must use good spelling and grammar. Often it is wise for the agent to repeat the question or requested action from the customer to ensure understanding and efficiently handle the customer’s request.

11. Provide an indicator that the customer service representative is typing something. (and this should also be available for the support staff too). This way the customer will be more patient, waiting for the next chat message to appear.

12. The chat transcript should be available  to the customer after the session is finished,  either by allowing the  customer to save it  or having it sent by email. If email is the process used, ensure it is actually sent. (I have had experiences where it was promised by not sent!).

Chat can optimize Customer Satisfaction

According to HDI Support World, a professional journal for the IT Service and Technical Support Community, in their document Best Practices for Chat Support, ‘Online chat, launched effectively, can be a big boost to customer satisfaction.’

‘Training for online chat is the most important thing a company can do to optimize the customer experience.’

Are you using Live chat? What are your experiences? Is anyone using Video Live Chat where the service representative can see the caller and the caller can see the service rep? Leave them in the comments section below.


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Adele Berenstein

Adele Berenstein is an Experienced Customer Satisfaction Executive, recently retired from a Large Global IT Organization after a long productive management career including Sales, Marketing, Services, teaching and education center management and most recently, 19 years in customer satisfaction management. She turned around divisions with customer satisfaction problems, implemented measurable improvements and management systems, and implemented programs to prevent problems from ever affecting customers.

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