14 Chat Etiquette Tips Essential for Business Communications
Today, if there’s one channel that customers prefer, it’s live chat because it offers instant responses. Live chat helps you to personalize the support experience and demonstrate the human side of your brand. In fact, companies offering live chat services see a 6% overall growth in their revenue.
But despite delivering quick responses, 47% of consumers confess not having had a positive live chat experience in the past month. Why? It isn’t so much what you say to your customer, but how you say it, that affects your customer’s experience. If you want to set that right and win your customer’s love, there are a few chat etiquette rules that you will need.
Tip 1 — K.I.S.S (Keep it simple stupid)
We often tend to overestimate the knowledge our customers have about our products or services. As a result, we use professional jargon when we chat with our customers. However, it is important to communicate our message in the simplest way we can.
- Try and keep the messages short.
- Break the message up into shorter sentences. Writing long messages robs the customer from the option to intervene.
- It’s ok to use standard abbreviations in chat conversations.
Tip 2 — Keep the tone positive
To truly connect with your customers, you need to incorporate a positive tone in your chat conversations. Do not use negative words or tone if you can positively say the same thing.
✓ “This feature will be available within two weeks. I’ll let you know once we roll it out.”
✘ “We don’t have this feature and it won’t be available for about 2 weeks.”
Tip 3 — Check for grammar and spelling
Good grammar, spelling, and punctuation is a trust signal. It shows that you care about your customers. Conversely, bad grammar can cost you opportunities; it makes customers think twice about doing business with you.
- Read the message backward. It’s a great way to spot spelling errors.
- Have a fellow live chat agent proofread the message for you.
- Read your message out aloud because errors are more easily heard.
- Ensure that your live chat agents are trained to have exceptional grammar and spelling skills.
- Buy a language tool such as Grammarly.
Tip 4 — Start the chat conversation with a friendly greeting
There are no second chances for a first impression. Nothing delivers customer satisfaction quite like a consistently delightful and welcoming chat conversation.
- Be professional and courteous. It can be helpful to use canned responses when handling multiple chats simultaneously.
- Modulate the tone of the greeting depending on the situation.
- Address the customer by their name. If you don’t have the customer’s name, it’s okay to use a generic greeting like “Hey there!”
Tip 5 — Write as you speak
Formalized writing style clashes directly with the way we read online. To a customer reading a highly formal message, it comes off as robotic. However, when you write as you talk, you can convey the message in a conversational tone that is aligned to the reader.
- Short sentences are key; they sound way more natural.
- Start some of your sentences with ‘and’, ‘but’, ‘nor’, ‘for’, ‘so’, ‘yet’, or ‘or’.
- Be mindful of voice and tone.
- Add interjections like ‘Ouch’, ‘Phew’, and ‘Duh’. But be mindful of your customer’s situation and how often you use them.
- Include personal pronouns like ‘you’ and ‘I’.
- Include contractions such as ‘you’re’, ‘that’s’, etc. when possible.
Tip 6 — Build an engaging chat conversation
Chat support is an opportunity to strengthen existing relationships with your customers through an engaging chat support environment.
- Be a proactive listener
- Ask questions to ensure that you have understood the customer clearly.
- Use reflective listening. Simply paraphrase what they just said.
- It’s best to put your mobile phone away.
- Mirror your customer’s tone; don’t mimic it.
Tip 7 — Create canned responses
There’s a good chance that you are handling multiple chats simultaneously. And to do it effectively, you need to use canned responses. Live chat software comes packed with a canned response feature that lets you set these quick responses up.
However, remember to —
- Keep it conversational. (Read Tip 5!)
- Set clear expectations in situations that require a follow-up.
- Remember, canned responses are not a replacement for personal responses.
- Review your canned responses regularly.
Tip 8 — Always be empathetic
Customer service, whether on the phone, email or via chat, requires a good understanding of emotional intelligence (EQ). In chat, EQ is key to developing true empathy and empathy goes a long way in building customer loyalty. There are two strategies for building empathy into your chat strategy —
- Mirroring your customer’s emotions signals trust.
- Personalizing your chat conversations makes the customer feel important.
Tip 9 — Use humor cautiously; avoid sarcasm
Humor can be a differentiator for your chat support. However, jokes can fall apart or be misinterpreted, particularly if you are using live chat. If you’ve known the customer for a long time and you know they would appreciate humor, then it doesn’t harm to throw in a few jokes. However, if the customer is frustrated with your product, it’s best to avoid humor and get to the solution as quickly as you can. The same rules apply for sarcasm, except we’d strongly recommend that you avoid using it in its entirety.
Tip 10 — Make a sincere apology
Giving a sincere and effective apology is hard work. To a customer, it’s infuriating when we don’t admit to our side of the problem. When we acknowledge a mistake, what we are essentially telling our customer is that they are right, we see their perspective, and that we understand it.
- Be really sorry.
- Validate your customer’s feelings even if you don’t necessarily agree with everything your customer is saying.
- Explain the situation and address all the points that the customer raised.
- Explain how you’ll handle this better the next time.
Tip 11 — Be proactive
As a live chat agent, you may gain some valuable insights and perspective by quickly looking through the previous chat conversations with your customer. Customers appreciate the effort you take into familiarizing yourself with the issue and saving them the time and effort of repeating themselves all over again.
A good live chat software provides continuous conversation history allowing live chat agents to pick up where the customers left.
Tip 12 — Offer quick responses
One of the important reasons for customers’ preference for chat as a support channel is speed. Quick responses don’t just save time for the customer but it also makes them feel important. Additionally, faster responses mean better productivity for you as a live chat agent. Some of the ways in which you can offer quick responses are by setting up autoresponders in your live chat software, using canned responses, providing self-service, or implementing a friendly chatbot.
Tip 13 — Check to see if the customer has more questions
When a customer reaches out with a support query, we may assume that it is the only question that the customer has. In thinking so, we tend to rush to close the chat conversation, the moment we answer the question. It happens to the best of us, particularly when we handle multiple chats parallelly. However, it is important to stop and check with the customer if they have more questions for you.
Tip 14 — Ask for feedback at the end of the chat
Customer feedback is important because it works as a guiding force for your support team and the organization as a whole. The right time to ask your customer for feedback is at the end of the chat conversation after you have addressed their issue. The timing is perfect because their experience is quite recent. You can do this by asking them to fill out a short survey or simply rate their experience with a thumbs up or a thumbs down.
Bonus tip — Chat etiquette for bots
We’re past the point where we debate whether or not we want to implement chatbots in our customer support strategy. Most companies have adopted chatbots to assist live support agents with repetitive and mundane questions.
We need our chatbots to interact frequently enough to positively impact the team’s productivity. We also need them to interact thoughtfully so that we don’t lose our customers to bad experiences. Where do we draw the line? A good way to address this is to create guidelines on how the chatbots will respond to customer requests.
- Do not mask your chatbots as live chat agents. This sets the wrong expectations. Customers will be disappointed when they don’t receive the kind of responses expected from a live agent.
- However, train the bot to converse like a live agent would with a customer.
- Train the chatbot to engage in small talk, but also ensure that it keeps the conversation brief and helpful.
- Train the bot to look for the intent behind the customer’s questions and help them with the next best course of action. This also enables engaged conversation with the customer.
- Make sure you tailor your chatbot’s tone to be an extension of your brand.
Mastering the art of chat etiquette might seem daunting. With the help of these tips and a little practice, you can become a pro in no time. Always remember that the end goal of customer support is to deliver moments of wow.
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