Business Growth

10 Customer Service Chat Handling Skills for Agents

Agnieszka Sienkiewicz · Updated
10-ways-to-provide-good-customer-service-with-live-chat

Customer service is about making your customers come back and shop with you again. And every business needs repeat customers to thrive.

But—

It is impossible to deliver excellent customer service without skilled chat support agents. Real-time support that helps solve customer problems via live chat is becoming the new standard.

This article will help you find out the answers to the following questions:

  • How can good chat skills transform your customer support team?
  • What are the most effective ways to improve customer service experiences via live chat?
  • How can live chat influence your customer workflow and give more time to your customer support agents?

Later on, you can also read other articles about customer service to expand your knowledge:

We highly recommend that you refine your skills with Tidio. It is one of the best chat support solutions. If your website is powered by Shopify or WordPress, it is the most popular choice.

Turn your website visitors into delighted customers.

Set up the Tidio live chat app in 5 minutes and watch your sales grow.

Learn About Live Chat

List of skills for chat support

Live chat support calls for a whole range of competencies. Using live chat is quite different from phone support. Here is a list of essential communication skills your live chat operators need to have: 

  1. Keeping response times low
  2. Good workload management
  3. Using simple language
  4. Focusing on positive communication
  5. Knowledge of live chat features
  6. Building relationships with customers
  7. Caring about customer’s privacy
  8. Listening to customer feedback
  9. Openness towards new ideas
  10. Becoming an expert in your field

Operators who have these customer service skills can do more than just answering customers’ questions. They can foster positive experiences.

Before you can put your customer service chat skills to practice, make sure you’ve got the best live chat software available.

10 online chat support skills

If you are reading this, chances are that you are already familiar with live chat customer support and want to deliver high-quality service.

If you’re new to live chat software, however, check out our article explaining what a live chat is—it’s never too late to start using one of the most powerful support channels.

There are live chat services—for example, Intercom—that don’t have a free plan option. Their pricing changes depending on the number of your customers. Find a messaging platform with unlimited conversations and fixed fees: 11 Best Intercom Alternatives.

1. Keeping response times low

The longer you wait, the harder it is to satisfy your customers

Customers demand an immediate response, and if they don’t get it, they may just turn their back on your business and choose your competitor. Our customer experience study confirmed that 44% of online shoppers expect response times below 5 minutes.

Make sure that you keep your response times as low as possible—train your live chat agents to have a few conversations at the same time, and keep the conversations short, but helpful. Good typing skills come in very useful.

If the chat cannot be answered on the spot, inform the customer about the delay so they don’t feel neglected. Remember, the more the customer waits for your response, the more likely they are to give you a negative review.

Live chat features that can help you:

  • Quick Responses—pre-defined/“canned” responses that can be sent with a single click of a button in a matter of seconds. These can be anything: welcome messages, large chunks of texts, templates, or even links to website pages.
  • Live Typing—you can see the question the customer is typing and prepare the response long before the question is sent
  • Chatbots—automatic conversation scripts triggered when customers do something or ask a specific question

And if you’re considering adding live chat functionality to your website, head straight to our reviews of WordPress live chat plugins.

2. Managing your workload

Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning.

Having multiple chats at the same time can be a challenge. And although we do not praise multitasking here, it is possible to hold more than one chat at the same time. 

Live chat agents need to handle their tasks in a timely manner, avoid distractions, and stay focused. Learn time management and collaborate with other colleagues from your team.

A good tactic to approach multiple chats is to identify conversations that will turn into more complex ones and the ones that can be answered almost on the spot (this skill comes with experience). Do not pick up several complex chats to handle simultaneously as this will drastically decrease the chat quality.

Another option is to transfer a chat to another operator. Live chat allows operators to join and leave chats at any time without the customer even knowing it.

Having multiple chats

Live chat features that can help you:

  • Reassign Operator—easy chat delegation to another operator who is less busy or more knowledgeable to handle the chat
  • Email and Messenger integration—all the incoming chats and emails can be responded from a single admin panel so you do not waste your time by switching from one app to another
  • Analytics—shows statistics concerning operators’ activities: their total number of messages sent, chats concluded, as well as reaction time during a selected period of time. This can give you an insight when your operators are the busiest and assign an extra pair of hands if needed.

3. Using simple language

How you think about your customer influences how you respond to them.

Communication should be a two-way process between the sender and the receiver, and both parties should understand chat messages. Customer service representatives should simplify their language and avoid complicated technical terms. Just because something is obvious to you does not necessarily imply that it is obvious to others.

Keep in mind that your customers may be new to your business—that’s why you should put yourself in their shoes and use terminologies that are potentially least likely to be misunderstood. 

Another important skill is the use of language—correct grammar and punctuation are critical. There is a strong correlation between your writing skills and customer satisfaction. Additionally, if you serve customers who speak a language that is foreign to you, be aware that you may not always have time to look up correct words or spelling.

Pay attention to the tone and style you use during the conversation—avoid colloquialisms, slang, or phrases that could be deemed too informal. Be mindful of global customers—not all of them are fluent in English (or any other language you use for communication) so do not use sophisticated vocabulary or complex grammatical structures.

Live chat features that can help you:

  • Visitor List—see who and how many visitors are currently browsing your website. This feature, among a few others, shows what is the language of the browser the visitors use

4. Mastery of positive language

People will forget what you said. They will forget what you did. But they will never forget how you made them feel.

An online chat should always be carried out in a professional manner—each step of the live online customer service process matters. Regardless of whether you managed to solve the problem or not, strive to imprint a positive impression in the customer’s memory. 

Using positive language will minimize accidental conflicts.

If you are unable to fulfill the customer’s order at the given moment, offer an immediate solution so that the negative undertone of the message is shifted to the positive one:

👿: “Sorry, we do not have the sneakers in stock right now and they will not be available for another 3-4 weeks.

👼: “The sneakers you are looking for will be available next month. If you want, I can place an order for you immediately so they are dispatched to you as soon as we receive them.”

Addressing all customer queries in a positive manner can be difficult, but it is one of the most essential skills for customer service chat operators. 

Live chat features that can help you:

  • Quick ResponsesCanned responses can be a real-life-saver in many situations. You can find them particularly useful for sending standard greetings and welcome messages, and when about to conclude the chat.

5. Knowledge of the features offered by your live chat solution

Make sure that you always have the right tools for the job. It's no use trying to eat a steak with a teaspoon, and a straw. - Anthony T. Hincks

Live chat software was designed with business owners in mind. Apart from the features mentioned in this article, live chat has plenty of amazing hacks and features to help your operators with their job. It is an essential tool for delivering great customer service.

The more knowledgeable about the online chat app they are, the smoother their job will become. And on a side note, with Tidio you can do more than just chat (tracking, statistics, automation).

Live chat features that can help you:

  • Offline Hours—set up live chat appearance, heading text and message sent when all of the operators are offline to make the customers aware that there is no support agent available at the given time
  • Visitor Ban—block visitors who waste your time
  • Chat Transcript—export chat to review later (e.g. for quality purposes or problem analysis)

6. Connecting with customers

Every great business is built on friendship. - JC Penney

Customers love to feel that they’re valuable to your business.  Why wouldn’t you show them that they are?

Doing these little things like sending season’s greetings and anniversary wishes help to maintain a close relationship with clients, and in the process—keep a long-term relationship with them and make them feel important. Ask follow-up questions to understand your customer’s issue.

Another thing to help you keep a close relationship is personalization. It is one of the core customer needs. Statistics show that 80% of consumers are more likely to do business with you if you offer personalized experiences. Address the customers by their name, offer personalized discounts, or give helpful and personal advice.

80% of consumers are more likely to do business with you if You offer personalised experiences

Live chat features that can help you:

  • Visitor’s Profile Card—consists of visitor’s personal details. Additionally, you can add notes, tags, and custom properties (and more). The more details you collect the more personalized experience you can deliver
  • Tags—simple labels that can be attached to any visitor
  • Custom Properties—special properties you can assign to any customer

7. Prioritizing customers’ privacy

Privacy is not something that I'm merely entitled to, it's an absolute prerequisite. - Marlon Brando

For your customers to have complete trust in your business, avoid asking them for sensitive information (like their card details). Most customers are skeptical about sharing this type of information online.

Moreover, never ask for details that are unnecessary to resolve the customer’s case only because you think it could be beneficial to you.

Place a priority on the customers’ privacy; make sure that no chat between customers and live chat agent leaks outside of your company. If the customers are reluctant to give you any of their personal details, spend some time explaining your privacy policy and any security-related matters.

Live chat features that can help you:

  • Pre-chat Survey—a survey that is run before a visitor sends their first message to you. Among a few pieces of information, you would like your visitors to provide, you can also ask the visitor to agree with your GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) policy

8. Asking for feedback

Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning. - Bill Gates

It’s essential to ask your customers for feedback on how satisfied they were with your live chat customer service. This helps you to determine your operators’ strengths and areas they need to improve.

Customer feedback also helps to measure the strengths and weaknesses of your business. It’s definitely worth having a well-functioning and efficient feedback mechanism.

The best way to gather customers’ feedback is to use a post-chat survey—thanks to this feature customers will be able to comfortably say what’s on their mind.

Live chat features that can help you:

  • Chat Rating—once the chat concludes, you can send a visitor a request to rate the chat. If you have collected an email through the pre-chat survey then you can also consider sending an email through Admin Panel (if an email integration was done)

9. Being open to new ideas

Customers often know more about your products than you do. Use them as a source of inspiration and ideas for product development. – David J. Greer

Customers have knowledge that you don’t because they’re directly affected by your products and customer care. They see things differently and can suggest what needs to be done to improve their satisfaction.

Live chat serves as a great way to introduce customers’ ideas. Encourage them to share their knowledge and ideas, and have room to implement them.

Live chat features that can help you:

  • Chat Rating—once the chat concludes, you can send a visitor a request to rate the chat. If you have collected an email through the pre-chat survey then you can also consider sending an email through Admin Panel (if an email integration was done) and invite the customer to write a review or provide some suggestions.

10. Becoming an expert in your industry

Many skills related to customer service are universal and mastering them is crucial to helping your customers (be it via live chat, phone, or any other medium). But equally important is to know the product you help your customers with.

Knowing the ins and outs of the product or service is critical. Even with the best problem-solving skills, you won’t be able to help your customers out if you are not familiar with what your business is all about.

While live chat customer service agents can easily consult additional resources, they are expected to know the product well enough to solve the majority of technical issues instantly. Even if the product or service is subject to frequent updates and changes, the operators’ overall core features expertise and experience will enable them to troubleshoot more effectively. Get acquainted with your knowledge base.

Live chat features that can help you:

  • Quick Replies—you can set up any sort of response, not only a welcome message. An operator who is familiar with the product and common questions associated with it can prepare links to external resources for customers to read more about the issue or feature they are interested in

Live chat customer service best practices—final words

Businesses that prioritize live chat customer support enjoy higher profitability, sales, and customer retention compared to those ones that spend their resources on advertising. Live chat customer service is important (just like any other type of customer service)—the live chat operators should be expected to treat the customers the way they would treat them in any other setting.

Live chat, unlike other tools, gives support agents unique features that can help them to manage their workload better and faster. On top of that, this sort of support can be automated with chatbots to make the work even more efficient.

Turn your website visitors into delighted customers.

Set up the Tidio live chat app in 5 minutes and watch your sales grow.

Learn About Live Chat

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Agnieszka Sienkiewicz

Aggie wrote about customer service, eCommerce tools, and marketing to help online entrepreneurs take their business to the next level.

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