For businesses focused on maximizing the value of their customer support platforms, every communication channel will have it’s own particular benefits. Take live chat. According to Forrester, adopting Chat can result in increased conversions, ticket deflection, and decreased costs.
As is the case with any business initiative, there’s a right way and a wrong way to implement proactive chat support. The greatest pitfall is arguably the very fine line that exists between being helpful and being intrusive. Which means that beyond the actual technology, a very important factor in proactive chat’s success is training support agents to use it properly.
We’ve all been a part of awkward conversations. Out there in the unscripted real world, comments fall flat and awkward moments are plentiful. That record-scratch moment when things go off the rails is often just the cost of interacting with other humans. When awkward moments happen in person, at a dinner party let’s say, fallout ranges from a few uncomfortable minutes to never being invited to your neighbor’s house again. When the same discord or misunderstanding happens over live chat, companies risk alienating and potentially losing a valuable customer.
How your agents handle the delicate back and forth of a live chat conversation matters. Especially when that chat conversation is initiated not by the customer, but by you. How best to assure a successful interaction? Some may say that proactive chat scripts are the answer. But are they?
Customer expectations vs company needs
Your customer service voice should be consistent in tone and personality across all platforms, and proactive chat is no exception. When training agents to engage in proactive chat, consider your business and your brand personality. Customers have different expectations from customer service interactions depending on what they’re shopping for or what information they need. So while a script might ensure an on-brand communication, it might not result in a great interaction for the customer.
So to be successful, live chat scripts must be able to accommodate a range of customer emotions, from affable to angry. Once they’ve initiated a conversation, agents should be trained to pick up on the tenor of the conversation immediately and to move through a script quickly, based upon that tone.
Customer empathy is key
The more empathetic a proactive chat conversation can be from the get-go, the better chance a customer will engage. For example, a generic “May I help you?” is less effective than beginning a conversation by acknowledging the issue your customer appears to be having or the information they seem to be looking for. Use live chat metrics (visit times, chat times, time on website, current page URL, time on current page, number of pages, order history) to tailor your conversation-opener to specific customers rather than resorting to a generic conversation opener.
Be as friendly, engaging and personal as the platform allows—without being overbearing. It’s a fine line. (Emoticons can work for some brands but not for all.) Your number one goal is to tell each and every customer you engage with that you’re at their service, now and in the future.
Be up front about how long it will take for you to help a customer with their query or problem. Be solicitous of their time and attention. Offer alternatives to the customer standing by if you can call or email the answer instead.
Build opportunities to gain valuable customer information into every script. Even short conversations can yield important information about why a customer came to your site and what they hoped to find. When a conversation is ending, close with an invitation to learn more about what could have gone differently or better from that customer’s point of view.
In some situations, an agent will discover that the customer needs help from a different agent or via phone or email instead. Your proactive chat scripts should include a graceful way of making this transition. Offer the customer the opportunity to choose to wait or to be contacted at a better time. Let them know the next agent will be fully briefed on the details of the question or concern so they know they will not need to rehash it again.
The bottom line
Proactive chat needs to be just as targeted and personal as any other form of customer service support. As more and more customers utilize chat, getting it right becomes even more critical. Train your agents with proactive chat scripts that marry analytics and metrics with good old fashioned empathy and you’ll be ahead of the game.