What advice do you find most helpful when overseeing an employee on a live chat conversation with a client or customer?

1. Count the Steps

If you know what the customers wants, listen for how long it takes the employee to get to that step. If it’s a direct request, such as making an account change, it should take only minutes. Sometimes, because of poor software or incomplete training, simple requests take longer, so this is the easiest way to identify a problem in your organization. – Matt Doyle, Excel Builders

2. Listen First

Client interactions should have a single moderator. So when observing or mentoring a colleague, I try to listen more than I speak. If I sense struggle or risk to the health of that customer relationship, I more actively step in. After the call, I review my feedback with the employee (face-to-face or by email), creating a teachable moment. This must be done in a timely manner in order to provide value. – Jacob Goldman, 10up Inc.

3. Diffuse the Situation

First, diffuse the situation with listening to the client, then explain the situation and be realistic about the time frame or costs associated with resolution. Lastly, respect your team if a client is unreasonable: Better lose that chat client than a team member. If a pattern emerges with a team member, then reassess. – Matthew Capala, Search Decoder

4. Encourage Your Chatters to Wait to Speak

Early chatters tend to be a bit too eager when it comes to providing answers. As a rule, encourage them to not begin typing until you see that the client is completely finished. It’s like any good conversation: You shouldn’t be interrupting other people. Additionally, it helps to make sure your chatters are deeply versed in employee marketing assets, like blog posts and white papers. – Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now

5. Leave the Chat Happy

The goal of a live chat with a customer is to make sure they leave the chat happy. You likely only have one chance to appease your customer, so make the chat as enjoyable as possible. All instruction can be done after the chat is over and all information has been gathered. Teaching while on the chat will only make the chat last longer and possibly confuse the agent or the customer. – Scott Kacmarski, Reps Direct

6. Listen for What Questions Customers Are Asking

If you’re micromanaging your employees, then overseeing a live chat conversation is counterproductive. Find something better to do. But the main thing to listen for is questions. Listen for what customers are really asking. Don’t stop at the surface level. Take the time to understand the intricacies of their queries. – Ismael Wrixen, FE International

7. Autonomy to Serve

The best thing you can do for customer service employees is empower them to solve the problem. Once the conversation concludes, you can go back and provide alternative solutions. If they are worried about balancing customer service with company bureaucracy, then both lose. – Chris Van Dusen, Parcon Media

8. Address Unseen Conflict

The most advice I offer during these types of situations is when there may be some conflict, where the customer is showing signs of frustration and an employee doesn’t seem to notice. These are good opportunities to show them what to look for and how to address it. Otherwise, I let employees engage with customers on their own. – Murray Newlands, Sighted

9. Show Them How You Would Do It

Teaching by example is one of the most effective methods of teaching customer service. Employees are intrinsically insecure when their communication is being analyzed, so instead of providing feedback on a chat interaction, offer your personal alternative to the chat. Show them how you would respond to such a request, so they feel like an audience rather than the focus of your criticism. – Diego Orjuela, Cables & Sensors