This post was last updated on January 6, 2022.
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Why is Professional Chat Etiquette Important?
Using professional chat etiquette helps solidify understanding between support agents and customers, ensures shoppers feel that they are being taken seriously, and encourages repeat interactions and loyalty from customers.
Connecting with your customers, and providing a positive and supportive experience is just as important whether it happens through a chat window, over the phone, or even in person.
Challenges of Customer Service over Chat
Communicating with shoppers via customer service chats is very different from communicating over the phone. Those differences come with a new set of challenges that customer service representatives need to be ready for. Some of the common challenges of customer service chat are:
- Understanding tone. Because these conversations happen in writing, it can be hard for both agents and customers to understand or interpret tone over customer service chats. Agents need to be extra careful about how their words may come across.
- Chat culture. For those generations that didn’t grow up in chat rooms or ICQ, it can be hard to understand some of the slang or cultural references that have developed over the years. That means customer service agents should try to use words and references that are more universal.
Improving customer support–and specifically, improving chat communications on a customer service team–starts with knowing and practicing the basics. Next, we’ll outline the basics of professional chat etiquette.
Chat Support Etiquette: The Basics
When it comes to chat support etiquette, many of the same rules apply for when you’re taking a call from a customer. You want to stray away from sensitive or crude jokes, avoid slang, and find the right balance between formal and friendly.
[Read More: Customer Service Chat Assessment]
Do’s and Don’ts of Chat Etiquette
CX agents on live chat should be mindful of their word choice, grammar and tone. Businesses will approach this differently based on their brand voice and products, but generally, good live chat etiquette is positive, simple, and clear.
- Do use simple language and short sentences. When live chatting with customers, use simple language and avoid complex terminology. Keeping things short and simple makes it easy for customers to understand your point, rather than being hit with a huge block of text within a small chat window.
- Do set a positive tone. Although it’s hard to convey tone simply through words, there are a few tricks to set a positive tone. Using positive words and phrases will help reinforce a positive experience for your customers. Remember to always be polite and thank your customers. When asking them for information, be kind, and try to avoid short, one-word responses (like ‘Ok,’ or ‘no’) which can come across as curt.
- Do watch for grammar and spelling. In the busy day of a customer service agent, it can be easy to overlook a few typos or grammatical errors. Taking a second to proofread messages before you send them, or implementing grammar check software in your customer support platform can minimize those errors and maintain a professional tone. Also, having a knowledge base in your CX software allows agents to quickly pull templated, ready-to-go answers. Knowledge base content not only reduces typos and grammatical errors, typos, but it ensures your brand voice and tone is upheld.
- Don’t go heavy on the caps, emojis, or abbreviations. Generally, it’s wise to leave the abbreviations and acronyms for messaging with friends. A well-placed emoji might make sense for some brands to use, but it’s smart to avoid acronyms like “brb” or “lol” as these may come across as overly informal.
- Do use punctuation–but don’t overdo it. Leverage the power of punctuation to come across as more human. Punctuate responses to customers like you would in any other professional communication. When used sparingly, an exclamation mark can help express an enthusiastic tone. (However, when they’re overused, repetitive exclamation marks can make you sound like you’ve had one too many cups of coffee.) If you’re using exclamation marks in responses to customers, read it out to check the tone before sending.
Chat Support Etiquette: Beyond the basics
Once you’ve nailed the balance between being professional yet warm and welcoming, you can use these tips to help improve other aspects of your customer service live chat experience:
- Use links. One of the many benefits of communicating through chat messaging is your ability to copy and paste information, photos, and links that can help your customers. You can redirect customers to whatever page, product, or resource they need and really add value to the chat experience.
- Use a script. You hire your agents for their natural empathy, and ability to connect with customers. But for agents who are newer to your organization, you might want to consider using a chat script as a guide, until your agents are fully onboarded, and to ensure consistency and quality.
- Be empathetic and understanding. Like in a phone call, you want to be empathetic and understanding. Really listen to your customers and show you understand their concerns by responding with empathetic and prompt responses.
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