Mobile devices have changed consumer’s daily habits. Millennials spend an average of 5.7 hours on mobile devices with Generation Z averaging 11 hours according to ZDNet. Mobile devices are used for media consumption, communication, and entertainment. With mobile becoming the centerpiece, it makes sense that customer support has adopted available channels and continues to modernize customer expectations.
Messaging, live chat, and text, are increasing as preferred support channels. Microsoft’s 2018 State of Global Customer Service found that 54 percent of U.S. respondents used three to five support channels. Live chat and text (combined) account of 27 percent of preferred service channels.
More customers are opting to communicate through live chat because they are able to clearly communicate issues without worrying about voice quality and the availability of collected conversation history. Live chat is one of the fastest ways to receive support and it also allowing customers the option to perform other tasks at the same time.
High-quality live chat does present its own unique difficulties. Agents who communicate with customers with live chat will need a certain set of skills to be successful.
Why is live chat support important?
As chat support grows, companies will need to provide customers with the best possible experience to be competitive. This gives customers the support that they need, but it’s also a great way to keep customers returning.
Being able to quickly support customers means that they’ll experience less frustration. Any questions will be handled faster with live chat than through email or over the phone.
Response times via SuperOffice.
Chat is a great way to speak to prospects and leads as well as visitors browsing your website.
Contacting support can take time away from important tasks. Customers who use live chat will be able to multitask while solving a problem. This ability is another benefit for customers. When implemented correctly, live chat also has some of the highest satisfaction rates of any support channel.
The 10 Chat Support Responsibilities
Providing chat support is different from communicating with customers through voice or email. A successful chat support agent will need different skills to communicate with customers effectively.
1. Has Great Written Communication Skills
Being able to communicate effectively in a fast-paced, written medium is a requirement for any chat support agent. They will need to communicate in a clear and concise manner while also responding with the right answers in limited interruption.
Responding to customer inquiries quickly, directly, and concisely will help with satisfaction ratings. Communicating with a chat support agent who can’t communicate effectively will cause customer frustration.
Chat is a great channel for high complexity with low urgency issues. Verbally speaking to an agent might offer a general idea of the problem, but explaining through chat can specifically introduce the issue. The agent then has to be able to respond with the correct solution with easy-to-follow instructions.
2. Engages Proactively
People who use chat support also have the idea that they’ll be able to multitask while getting questions answered. Chat support agents need to drive the conversation to make sure issues are resolved quickly.
Multitasking is a great benefit for customers, but it can lead to difficulties for a support agent who isn’t comfortable taking control of the conversation. Your team needs to be able to focus the customer on the task at hand without coming off as too aggressive.
Many chat platforms will also offer self-service options as well. But customers may not want to use a self-service visual IVR. This means that your team will need to be able to communicate with someone who wants to chat with a live agent.
3. Multitasks Effectively
Successful support agents will need to be able to handle more than one chat at a time. For each chat, agents will need to reply to customer questions, research account activity and notes, troubleshoot any issues, provide supporting help documentation, and any number of other tasks. This means they’ll need the ability to work through several problems simultaneously to be effective.
Many chat platforms will offer tools that automate these kinds of workflows, but if the chat support agent isn’t comfortable helping multiple customers at the same time, it will be difficult for them to be successful.
4. Asks Direct Relevant Questions
Your chat support agents will need to know how to drive a conversation. They won’t have the indicators of vocal tone or inflection to rely on, so specific and direct questions are necessary to get to the bottom of an issue quickly. Customers might also have more difficulty getting their questions across, so your team will need to know how to find their way to the core of any issue.
Probing questions help move the conversation forward and can surface issues that the customer may not be articulating fully. Unless the customer is yelling with CAPS LOCK it will be difficult for chat support agents to know how the customer is feeling. Recognizing written tone, asking for clarification, and acknowledging frustrations will ensure that the customer feels supported and help alleviate frustration.
5. Quickly Identifies Pain Points
Asking direct questions helps agents understand difficult situations quickly and correctly. Live chat agents need to know how to drill down to the source of an issue to identify specific customer pain points.
Where phone support and email can spend the time talking through the intricacies of a particular problem, a long back-and-forth on chat can make it more difficult to understand the issue.
6. Understands Trigger Statements
Providing support through live chat presents its own issues when trying to alleviate customer frustration. Chat support agents need to understand how to read a conversation for potential phrases that indicate frustration or anger. When working through a difficult issue with a customer, it can sometimes be hard to know how to maintain the conversation.
This goes for the chat support agent as well. They’ll need to know how to speak to a customer to make sure they don’t say something that could cause additional frustration.
7. Sets Expectations
Working with multiple chats, having to research customer accounts, and finding helpful FAQ or Knowledge Base documentation can cause long periods of dead air. Chat support agents need to make sure the customer knows what’s going on.
Your team shouldn’t avoid providing constant updates. Letting the customer know that it might take a few minutes to look into their issue can go a long way. This makes sure the customer knows what’s going on, but also helps to bypass potential customer frustration.
8. Uses Personality
Being personable on the phone is easy; vocal tone and inflection go a long way to make the conversation more fun. Chat support agents will need to find other, more creative ways to inject their personalities into the conversation This ties back to the written communication skills job responsibility, as chat agents need to know how to show their personality without speaking.
Depending on the brand, there can be a few options: your team could use emojis, make jokes (when appropriate), or use a more conversational greeting to set the tone. Adding personality to a chat can change the tone of the conversation but should always support the ability of your team to solve the issues at hand. Just make sure your team knows how to be conversational yet professional.
9. Doesn’t Need a Script
Customer service scripts don’t work. There are benefits to training a new team member in brand tone, but when a chat support agent needs a script to speak to customers, they’ll never provide high-quality support.
Chat agents support should be able to think on their feet, meet customers at their level, and improvise during the course of a conversation. Canned replies can help increase speed when saying hello or goodbye, but outside of those standard exchanges a script likely come off as robotic. Your agents should be able to communicate ideas effectively without the need for a script.
10. Provides Concise Information
We know that people use chat because it’s fast and easy; being able to provide answers that are correct, direct, and concise are important chat support job responsibilities. Chat support agents only have a few lines to answer a question before it disappears in the chat window. Long-winded or rambling explanations will not do the customer any service.
This can be alleviated by emailing chat transcripts to the customer after a conversation is concluded or offering to reach out with a follow-up call for more difficult problems. When the customer is reaching out over live chat, their goal is to fix a problem as fast as possible.
Find the Right Chat Support Agent
Chat support agents are a special kind of person. They need to be able to manage several conversations at once while still providing the best support possible to your customers. It’s important that you hire someone who can handle the volume live chat typically has and still make the customer experience a good one.