35 Tips for Improving Customer Support Chat Efficiency, De-escalating, and Closing Interactions Faster
Chat is the primary method of customer support for most of my clients, as opposed to phone calls and emails. Here are my 35 best tips for mastering chat interactions, which I share with my clients.
10 Chat Techniques for Building Rapport with Customers
1. Use personal pronouns: Use "I," We," "You," and "Your" personal pronouns because they instantly make the chat conversation tone warm, friendly, and personal. A QVC chat agent did this well with me: "Ms. Golden, I'm sorry the camera refund hasn't been processed yet. I know you're anxious to have this completed. The return processing time can take up to 17 days from the date an order is returned to QVC. I hope your item is processed soon."
Scan your chat messages before sending them to look for opportunities to switch things up and add pronouns. Instead of "Dream Studio apologizes for the issue," say, "I am very sorry to hear about the recent disappointment in our studio."
2. Address customers by name: Personalize your chat interactions by addressing your customers by name. This demonstrates respect and makes the customer feel valued. "Myra, how can I help you today?" "Lauren, I'll gladly check on that for you."
3. Express empathy and understanding: Show genuine empathy for the customer's situation and acknowledge their feelings. This is crucial in building rapport and fostering a sense of trust with the customer. QVC, from my example in point number one, expressed empathy this way, "I know you're anxious to have this completed. The return processing time can take up to 17 days from the date an order is returned to QVC. I hope your item is processed soon."
4. Mirror the customer's language and style: Adjust your communication style to match the customer's language and tone. This helps create a sense of familiarity and rapport between you and the customer. If your customer calls your product a "thumb drive," yet your company calls it a "flash drive," you can use your customer's verbiage rather than correct them.
5. Acknowledge your customer's concerns: Speak to your customer’s pain point, “I realize this has been frustrating for you.” Or “I hope your item is processed soon.”
Video: How to Acknowledge Customer Concern and Why You Must
6. Explain any long breaks. Customers quickly grow impatient with delays in chat responses. Here's a fantastic example of explaining delays: "I do show we have the item in stock and can get that reshipped to you. Would you mind holding 2-3 minutes while I do so?"
7. Show appreciation and gratitude: Thank the customer for their time and patience and express appreciation for their business. This helps in fostering a positive relationship with the customer. "Thanks for giving me an opportunity to resolve this for you today!"
8. Highlight commonalities: Identify shared interests or experiences with the customer to create a sense of connection and rapport. For example, "My daughter has a walnut allergy, so I can certainly understand why it's important for you to know the ingredients in our yogurt." In a chat with Bath & Body Works, an agent highlighted our community of us both loving scented candles. See the message below.
9. Use humor appropriately: Lighten the mood with appropriate humor when the situation allows it. This can help build rapport and make the chat interaction more enjoyable for the customer.
10. End the chat positively: I chatted last month with Cox Communications, and the agent said, “I’m so glad we could work together to resolve your issue!” I teach this stuff, yet that closing made me say, wow!
10 Chat Techniques for Handling Customer Inquiries and Complaints
Video: How to Tell Customers What They Don't Want to Hear In a Chat Conversation
- Acknowledge the customer's issue: Begin by acknowledging the customer's concern and genuine desire to help. This sets a positive tone for the interaction and reassures the customer that their issue will be addressed. "I'm sorry you've had such a challenging time," or "I want to get to the bottom of this as much as you do," for example.
- Ask clarifying questions: To fully understand the customer's issue, ask open-ended questions to gather more information. This helps identify the root cause of the problem and demonstrates your commitment to resolving the issue. Here's an example, "You're asking if you can cancel a custom order because you realize you've made a mistake, right?"
- Offer solutions, not excuses: Focus on solving the customer's issue rather than making excuses or shifting blame. This helps in maintaining a cheerful and solution-oriented tone throughout the chat interaction.
- Be transparent about timelines and processes: Keep the customer informed about the steps you are taking to resolve their issue and provide realistic timelines for resolution. This helps in managing the customer's expectations and maintaining their trust. Just remember not to overpromise and assertively give the timeline, even if it's a long time. For example, "I'm sending your case to our Review Team. Someone from our Review Team will review your case and contact you at the email address on file within 21-28 business days."
- Provide regular updates: If the issue requires time to resolve, keep the customer updated on the progress regularly. This demonstrates your commitment to resolving their issue and helps maintain a positive relationship with the customer. I shared this in the previous section, but it I'll nudge again: Customers quickly grow impatient with delays in chat responses. Here's a fantastic example of explaining delays: "I show we have the item in stock and can get that reshipped to you. Would you mind holding 2-3 minutes while I do so?"
- Offer alternatives: If the customer's preferred solution is not feasible or available, offer alternative options to address their concerns. This helps demonstrate your commitment to finding a satisfactory resolution for the customer.
- Say "I'm sorry" when necessary: If your company is at fault, offer a sincere apology for the inconvenience caused to the customer. This helps in demonstrating accountability and maintaining the customer's trust. Take a look at how a Bath & Body Works chat professional said "I'm sorry" to me in the circled message below.
- Be proactive in preventing future issues: Identify the underlying cause of the customer's issue and take steps to prevent similar problems from occurring. This addresses the customer's immediate concern and demonstrates your commitment to continuous improvement.
- Follow up after resolution: Once the customer's issue has been resolved, follow up with them to ensure their satisfaction and maintain a positive relationship.
- Learn from customer feedback: Use customer inquiries and complaints as learning opportunities to identify areas for improvement in your products, services, and customer service processes.
One Powerful Tip: How to De-escalate in Chat
Learn how to de-escalate in chat in this video. You can watch me explain how to avoid negative priming and why you can't give your customers what they want.
4 Ways to Drive Chat Conversations to Closure Faster
1. Check for understanding early and as often as it takes. In chat, we spend much time figuring out what the customer wants. If you misunderstand what your customer wants, they'll redirect you, saving you time by ensuring you're on the same page. For example, "You're asking me how to add an avatar to your employees' eLearning profiles, right?"
2. Use screenshots and screen recordings. Giving screenshots, links, and screen recordings makes it easier for people to grasp what you are explaining. Using visual tools, you can save several seconds, if not minutes.
3. Type a clear closing statement. Closing your chat interaction should go like this, "Lauren, I'm so happy I could help you! Do you have any other questions I can help with before we disconnect?" With a precise closure, your customers will likely wrap up the conversation quickly.
4. Tell customers to disconnect. Chat conversations are often over, but customers must remember to close the chat window. You can help your customers by saying something like, "Great, Lauren! Have a great afternoon! Please click "X" or "Disconnect" at the top right corner of your screen. Thanks."
5 Chat Techniques for Maintaining Professionalism and Tone
Video: Fundamentals for the Best Chat Experiences
- Use appropriate language and tone: Maintain a professional and courteous tone throughout the chat interaction, using appropriate language and avoiding slang or informal language.
- Avoid jargon and technical terms: If the customer is familiar with jargon or technical terms, avoid using them in chat communication. This helps ensure that the customer fully understands the conversation and feels confident and confident.
- Remain calm and composed: In challenging situations, maintain a calm demeanor. This helps de-escalate tense situations and maintain a positive rapport with the customer.
- Avoid personal biases or opinions: Refrain from expressing personal preferences or opinions in chat, as this can create a sense of conflict or tension with the customer.
- Stay focused on the customer's needs: Keep the focus of the conversation on the customer's needs and preferences, and avoid getting sidetracked by irrelevant topics or personal anecdotes.
5 Chat Techniques for Efficient and Effective Problem-Solving
- Identify the root cause of the problem: To effectively resolve the customer's issue, it is essential to identify the underlying cause of the problem. This helps in addressing the root cause rather than just the symptoms.
- Use a problem-solving framework: Use a structured problem-solving framework, such as the PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) or DMAIC (Define-Measure-Analyze-Improve-Control) model, to guide your problem-solving process.
- Collaborate with colleagues: If the issue requires input or collaboration from other colleagues or departments, involve them in the chat conversation to ensure a timely and effective resolution.
- Use visual aids: If necessary, use visual aids such as screenshots or diagrams to illustrate the problem or solution. This can help clarify complex issues and ensure the customer fully understands the resolution.
- Follow up after resolution: After resolving the issue, follow up with the customer to ensure their satisfaction and address any residual concerns. This helps maintain a positive relationship with the customer and confirms the problem does not recur. In many companies, the follow-up is an automated function that emails the customer, which is perfect.
Contact Center Chat Tools and Software
Effective chat communication requires using the latest tools and software to enhance efficiency, productivity, and customer satisfaction. Some of the essential chat tools and software for contact center chat include:
- Chatbots and AI: Chatbots and artificial intelligence can help automate routine tasks and respond quickly and efficiently to common inquiries.
- Live chat software: Software tools enable businesses to provide real-time customer support and track metrics such as response time and customer satisfaction.
- CRM software: Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software can help manage customer interactions, track customer data, and provide insights into customer behavior and preferences.
- Social media monitoring tools: Social media monitoring tools can help businesses monitor and respond to customer inquiries and complaints on social media platforms.
- Analytics and reporting tools: Analytics and reporting tools can help businesses track chat metrics, identify areas for improvement, and measure the ROI of chat communication strategies.
Measuring Chat Communication Success
Measuring the success of chat communication is essential in identifying areas for improvement and ensuring that the chat communication strategy is aligned with the business goals. Some of the vital metrics for measuring chat communication success include:
- Response time: The time it takes to respond to customer inquiries or complaints.
- First Contact Resolution (FCR) rate: The percentage of customer issues resolved in the first chat interaction.
- Customer satisfaction (CSAT) score: Customer satisfaction with the chat communication experience.
- Churn rate: The percentage of customers who terminate their relationship with the business.
- Conversion rate: The percentage of chat interactions that result in a sale or revenue-generating activity.
By tracking these metrics regularly, businesses can identify areas for improvement and optimize their chat communication strategy to improve customer satisfaction and drive revenue.
Next Steps for Elevating Your Customer Service Game
Exceptional chat communication is critical to providing superior customer service and driving business success. By mastering the essential chat techniques outlined in this article, businesses can build strong customer relationships, handle inquiries and complaints more effectively, provide personalized service, maintain professionalism and tone, and solve problems efficiently. By leveraging the latest chat tools and software and measuring chat communication success, businesses can continuously improve their chat communication strategy and elevate their customer service game.
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