Live Chat Customer Support: Productivity Tools and Agent Skills

Today I have an overview of some productivity tools and the types of agent skills your team should aquire to streamline your live chat customer support effort.

Productivity Tools
Live Chat support agents could do with some or all of these tools depending on the industry you support and the way live chat is used in your organization:

  • Canned responses or prepared scripts*
  • Quick type shortcuts
  • Spell check, autocorrect, and grammar check
  • Repeat visitor designation or identifier
  • One click escalation to phone or higher tier service
  • Favorites feature for pages pushed frequently to customers

*Remembering, of course, to make these sound like a real person and not to lean too heavily on them. Canned greetings and closings plus some lightly scripted reminders of the type of information needed from the customer in various situations.

Required Skills for Agents

The best agents for Live Chat support tend to be those who are skilled at answering customer requests via email rather than those who primarily perform phone support. The skills for communicating well in writing are different from spoken conversation. In both cases, agents with high level listening skills that are able to share and understand a wide variety of perspectives and knowledge levels will do best. And good typists always a plus….which leaves me out 😉

Another important skill in chat agents is the ability to quickly answer questions with a minimum of typing while still showing empathy, building a relationship, soliciting information, and teaching the customer how to use the service along with the expected behavior or mode of communicating. Afterward they should get to go to the Prince’s Ball. I mean, really, we aren’t asking for much out of an online chat, are we?

While some agents may be able to handle simultaneous chats, this practice could drive down response rates and customer satisfaction scores. Multiple chats invite errors such as longer waiting times, answers posted to the wrong chat, and stress for both the agent and the customer.

Other agent skill related issues that can contribute to poor productivity or bad customer experiences include:

  • Prolonged or social chat sessions that have nothing to do with the business at hand.
  • Agents prematurely closing chats for handling time reasons or who offer inadequate responses.
  • Agents ignoring cues that the customer wants more help.
  • Agents making disclaimers about their lack of adequate response, or leaving the customer with a negative closure
  • Rude or impatient behavior from either party

This is a pretty light overview. As with anything there can be variables that apply to certain industries or businesses. The work environment and culture impact the use of live chat just as it does the rest of customer service and support.

But this gives you some guidelines to consider when you decide to offer this service channel.

If you already offer Live Chat, what are some of the skills and tools you have discovered that help with this particular channel?

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