For more and more people starting an online business and making its budget calculations live chat becomes a great opportunity to offer top-notch customer service at a considerably low cost. How to handle live chat correctly to deliver the customer experience which is comparable or exceeds the face-to-face experience that the customer receives in a brick-and-mortar store is the next big question.

2 Components of Customer Experience

Customer experience is based on basically only two things:

  1. The first one is the technical side of the matter: did the customer receive the necessary information, was their problem solved, was it solved efficiently and timely?
  2. The second – is the customer’s emotional perception of their experience: was the interaction pleasant, were they treated with respect and appreciation on the part of the company as a unit and the service agent with whom they interacted?

Of course, in a real-time situation both these aspects intermingle and make up for a single impression that the customer forms about his experience. But for the company responsible for the creation of this experience, it is much easier to form an integral whole by breaking it down into several parts and making sure each part functions correctly.

What are the steps to ensure the best customer experience in both of these areas? See the action plan below.

How to deliver an EFFECTIVE customer chat experience

  • Be available, adhere to the posted hours of operation – if the customer has a problem and is unable to reach you, that is the worst customer experience you could deliver, despite the lack of an actual experience.
  • Ask the customer for the necessary information on the start chat form to get a better understanding of their problem and maximize their experience. However, don’t overload the form, ask only for that which is essential to ensure the quality of your service.
  • Provide accurate, verified and complete information in an answer to the customer’s question. Know your product really well and don’t make the customer to work extra to solve their problem.
  • Keep useful links on hand so that you can quickly share them with the customer without having them wait. You can utilize the canned responses feature which is available with most chat software providers, and save links to security and return policies, testimonials, terms of service or any other page or document which is frequently asked for by your customers. Before posting the link to the user, make sure it’s a working link and it does not lead to a 404 error page.
  • Make use of the advanced chat tools, such as co-browser, page push, file sharing to provide a well-rounded customer experience. This is the one area of live chat where you can compensate for the lack of in-person or voice interaction by bringing the extra benefits which are available only with live chat.
  • Run post chat customer survey to get the customer more engaged, to have them participate in the process by leaving their feedback and letting you know what is needed to improve their experience.
  • Make sure you are using a reliable software platform so that the chat window doesn’t freeze in the middle of the conversation and it is out of your scope to fix it. Here is a comprehensive review of live chat software providers.

Now let’s move on to the next aspect of great customer service.

How to deliver a PLEASANT customer chat experience

  • Personalize your communication. Use the customer’s name and other provided information to make the chat interaction more human and tailor all the company solutions to the needs of the individual person.
  • Pick up the customers’ calls quickly and avoid significant lags between your responses. Delayed service is almost equal to the lack of one, so don’t fall into that camp.
  • Set the proper tone for your conversation which will reflect the nature of your company and website. You don’t have to sound too formal and official if you are a cake delivery website, and if you are an educational institution, you may not want to come out looking superficial.
  • Be consistent. If you have already asked the user to fill out the start chat form, don’t ask them the same questions again, unless, of course, something is unclear.
  • Practice patience and politeness, don’t answer questions with other questions. If you don’t understand the customer’s question, make sure to say so and let them feel that you want to give your best by trying to really get at the problem. If you want to read more on the chat etiquette in customer service, check out my other post here.
  • When you have to say “No” to a customer, say it right. Here is a very insightful post by John Rydell at Networx Online where he gives several pieces of really great advice. Although John uses a hard conversation with an employee as an example, his tactics to be direct and avoid procrastination, to use the “compliment sandwhich” and give the person an explanation work as effectively in customer service. Besides the use of the general rules, you can also get very creative when it comes to saying “No”, even in your personal and other business relationships. Check out this article for some creative inspiration and fun.
  • Don’t be overly promotional if you are selling something, which in most cases you will. The customer will buy from you if they need the product and if you deliver them a great experience. So it is better to put all effort in creating something valuable rather than persuading and forcing clients into a purchase which they might later regret. Quite often it happens that even if they are not happy with their decision to buy, they will blame it on the product, and may even cause some undeserved negative feedback to spread. So you are really not winning anything by exaggerating your product or service to entice more people into buying it.
  • Make each customer feel special. It doesn’t have to cost you a lot. Whatever is in your power, whether it is an extra bonus, or discount, or just a nice word and sharing something positive with them – anything will do. Make a difference in their day and their experience and they will make a difference in your life and your business.

Well, it seems like I got a long list of suggestions here. Still, what I really wanted to say I guess was “keep it simple.”  Building relationships with clients is about being authentic. Nothing contributes more to authenticity than keeping things simple. I love the post on simple communication by Beth Dargis! Her major advice is: be straight and be clear. Indeed, what else is there to it?

Do you have any other ideas on how to create an ideal customer experience through chat support service? Please share them with us all.