5 Tips and Tricks for Delivering Exceptional Customer Support via Live Chat

Though there will always be some people who dislike live chat (presumably preferring to communicate via phone calls, pigeon-carried notes, or smoke signals), it’s a support channel that’s long since become a staple of the ecommerce world. It’s convenient, broadly accessible, scalable, and perfect for those who like to avoid unpleasant conversations.

But simply offering a live chat system isn’t enough to earn you plaudits from your customers. You also need to use it effectively. There are probably store owners out there who implement live chat systems, ignore most of the requests, then wonder why no one seems grateful. If you want your customers to rate you highly, you’ll have to put in some serious effort.

To help you along that path, this blog post will set out five handy suggestions for turning your live chat service into a powerhouse provider of five-star ratings and customer referrals. Make good use of them and you should fare well — so let’s get started.

Keep Your Response Times Low

No one likes to wait when they’re in need of assistance, and a core element behind the growth of the ecommerce industry has been the speed at which a shopper can find what they’re looking for (no matter how esoteric) and have it delivered. Due to this, people ordering things online aren’t inclined to hang around while you tell them you’ll reply within hours. If they can’t rely on you to help them promptly, why shouldn’t they simply go elsewhere?

So you need to ensure you’re getting back to people quickly. More than that, though, you need to be quick in how you address their issues. Every step of the live chat process — taking their details, finding their records, agreeing solutions, sending confirmations — should be smooth and painless. If even one link in the chain has a lag, it’ll lead to customer dropoff.

How can you make this happen? Well, you first need to have the right system in place. A live chat system that integrates with your order system (something akin to Crisp’s Shopify live chat widget, for instance) will make it massively easier to bring up relevant details without any pausing. Then it’s a matter of having well-trained support assistants at the ready (perhaps supplemented by chatbots capable of covering basic issues). Will this cost you? Certainly. But will it be worth it? Absolutely. Customer loyalty is essential.

Show Empathy and Personality

Since I just mentioned chatbots, you might be wondering how this is going to work. Here’s the thing: while you can write copy and exchanges for your chatbots to show your brand values, every in-depth or lasting interaction should be dealt with by an actual human. The chatbots should purely be for answering basic queries (e.g. “Has my order been shipped yet?”) and routing more complex issues to the appropriate people.

And when your real support assistants take over, they need to understand how to engage with people. If they’re overly mechanical, it’ll lead to additional frustration. They must be ready and willing to see things from the perspectives of those they’re trying to help. The more they can mirror the feelings of the customers, the easier any difficulties will be to get past.

Leave Room for Spontaneity

Although canned responses (such as these from HubSpot) can inarguably save time, using them excessively can leave your business seeming impersonal or robotic. It can also dampen the creativity of your support assistants. Sure, their jobs will always be rather repetitive, but creative thinking isn’t just desirable for them: it’s also desirable for you. Why? Because encouraging your support staff to come up with fresh solutions to customer problems is a great way to stand out in a positive way.

In addition to setting out standard actions for common problems (how to handle a return, how to retain an on-the-fence customer, etc.), outline terms for finding custom solutions. If a customer feels that your support assistant managed to find a solution specifically for them, it’ll bring them satisfaction and make them feel highly valued as a customer.

For example, if a customer repeatedly orders products from a particular brand, you could give them some information about upcoming products from that brand and allow them the opportunity to pick something for you to set aside for them ahead of the release date. Even though it wouldn’t provide the monetary return of a discount or a full refund, it might be more appealing to them and make them happier with the service.

Use Clear and Concise Language

Customers using live chat aren’t looking for ten-paragraph explanations of why their orders haven’t been completed. They just want to know where things stand and what (if anything) they need to do to move them along. Assuming you already have some scripts written out to help support assistants manage their workloads, review those scripts to see if they can be trimmed.

Sometimes they’ll need to use technical terms, admittedly, but that’s no excuse for being confusing. Taking a moment to explain a piece of jargon instead of just throwing it out will prove extremely helpful. If you’ve ever used a customer support service that seemed to leave you knowing less about your situation than you knew beforehand, you’ll know why this is.

Follow Up and Ensure Resolution

Once you’ve addressed someone’s issue, you can dust off your hands, sit back, and relax. Yes? No. That’s a recipe for disaster. Maybe they thought the issue was solved but it actually wasn’t, and they’re so infuriated with your failure that they opt to stop buying from your business instead of returning to your support service. Maybe your suggestion actually made things worse.

There’s also the possibility that your solution worked extremely well but they didn’t feel inclined to leave a positive comment. Many people just don’t use review services but are perfectly willing to say nice things if prompted to do so. When you think things have been resolved, then, you need to arrange a speedy follow-up to check they have, see if the customer needs anything else from you, and give them a chance to provide some much-needed social proof.

In conclusion, then, while it isn’t that hard to provide great customer service through live chat, it’s not so easy that you can afford to be lazy. If you make an effort to respond quickly, avoid being robotic, let your support assistants get creative, keep things simple, and follow up on every exchange, you’ll see positive results.