Chat Client Etiquette for Small Business Support Staff

by / Monday, 15 September 2014 / Published in Technology For Business

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When it comes to offering support for small business customers, the most immediate means of getting into contact with your customers can often be the best. Especially on websites dedicated to e-commerce, having the ability to instantly offer customized guidance and support for those who are visiting is a very powerful tool for preventing lost business as well as increasing customer satisfaction. Customer support is one of the most important areas to pay attention to, since it is the satisfaction of your customers that will drive the word of mouth exposure that many businesses rely on to grow. Towards furthering this goal, having on page chat support on your site can help reduce the number of potential sales that you miss out on as well as provide an convenient means to troubleshoot basic support issues.

Maintaining a strong standard of etiquette on a chat client is just as important as any other support channel. When using chat as a support tool, the need to respond in a timely manner, and potentially to juggle multiple conversations can make it tough to avoid using contractions and to avoid spelling and grammatical errors. At least to greet an initial inquiry from a customer on chat, you should have a stock greeting queued up with an appropriate response. This can buy you some time when juggling between multiple conversations, but be aware of the fact that people will quickly perceive and respond negatively to being confronted by robots. Do your best to respond with your own words to questions and indicate your understanding of the issue at hand. As far as using common contractions, such a “lol” and “brb”, it is up to your discretion. For certain, more casual businesses where being perceived as rigidly professional is not as important, using some here and there can make no difference or even serve to set your customer more at ease, but a B2B service or an accounting firm should probably hesitate to use too many colloquialisms, instead opting to communicate as directly and clearly as possible without using common acronyms.

Be willing to go more in depth on your products and services. Often times, your customer might not have support questions, but are simply looking for more information on your products. Instead of wondering why they don’t read the copy on your webpage, you should instead take this opportunity to give them a deeper perspective on why they should become your customer. It’s an inquiry that can turn into the opportunity to make a sale, so instead of looking at it as a distraction from support tickets, you should value these questions, and potentially have closers on hand who can switch in with support team members when this type of lead is identified.

Be prepared to deal with trolls. A troll refers to an internet troublemaker, someone who is out to frustrate others and waste their time. Be aware that by including a chat client on your pages, you are providing one more means for trolls to contact you. It’s important to not rise to their level and maintain the professional standard that you normally would, since it is easy for someone to document a customer support outburst and present it out of context. Don’t create opportunities for your representatives to be misrepresented or misconstrued, instead, if you sense that you are speaking with a troll, switch to primarily automated or pre-written stock responses in order to keep them at arms length while waiting for them to lose interest.

Photo Credit to Alan O’Rourke on Flickr

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