Confessions From a Live Chat Newbie

What I Learned From My First Week On Chat

live chat super agentWe’ve all been there… When you walk up to the edge and are presented with the choice – Sink or Swim? As one of the newest members of the SnapEngage Team, my ceremonial initiation took place last week when I took the plunge into the live chat world as a real live agent!

That first day, as I cursored my mouse over the toggle to switch myself to ‘online’ status, I felt an uptick in my heartbeat and a flutter in my stomach. Acting in both sales and support roles, I knew that visitors were going to look to me as their go-to expert on the SnapEngage product, and I by no means had all the answers on my own. So, I did what any resourceful person would do – I used every tool at my disposal to find the answers. What I found was that the chat portal tools armed me with a magic cape that gave me super-agent status!

Here are some of the helpful tools that got me through my first week on chat:

Use the visitor information to your advantage

The Hub (depending on your settings) contains a lot of powerful information that gives you immediate insight into your visitors, including geolocation, preferred language, the page from which they started the chat, and in some cases the email address (among other robust visitor information). This helps determine the best communication approach and style, along with diagnosing the nature of their inquiry prior to them telling you.

Respond quickly, even when you may not have immediate answers

live chat response timeResponse time is paramount in the live chat world! Visitors are looking for immediacy and as live chat agents, it’s our job to provide that prompt service. When I am notified of an incoming visitor chat (relying on my desktop and sound notifications), I immediately jump over to the chat portal and respond with a simple greeting – my standards are “Hello” and “Hi there”. This immediately lets your visitors know that you are available to chat. I also like to set expectations during a chat. When I need a little time to explore an issue or find a solution, I’ll often say something like, “One moment while I pull up your account information.”; and if it’s taking me longer than anticipated to find what I need, I’ll jump back in the chat and say, “I’m still researching this. Thanks for your patience.” (TIP: You can also use time-saving shortcuts for these canned messages – see below.)

Shortcuts are an agent’s best friend

live chat shortcutsRegardless of how many WPM your agents can type, when you’re juggling multiple conversations simultaneously, time is hard to come by! Shortcuts allow me to quickly answer chats, as well as post responses to common questions or topics without having to spend precious time typing out messages. I also use shortcut commands to navigate visitors around the SnapEngage website using the handy guided browsing feature, as well as electing to save select transcripts into our Help Desk and CRM systems even when an email address isn’t provided.

Use your knowledge base

live chat knowledge base integrationThe SnapEngage knowledge base is the lifeline and secret sauce that took me from intimidated newbie to superstar agent. My go-to solution when trying to explain a feature or troubleshoot an issue is to first run a search query in our knowledge base, which just so happens to be conveniently located right in the chat portal! I owe a lot of kudos to the SnapEngage team for consistent contributions and updates to our documentation – nine times out of ten, I am able to provide answers to visitors’ questions with the simple click of a button. (The knowledge base integration feature allows you to quickly view, paste the link or guided browse your visitors to an article with one click.)

Lean on your team

I’m lucky to have an awesome team surrounding me, so when our knowledge base falls short or I am presented with a very specific inquiry, I rely on my teammates for answers. With SnapEngage’s team chat solution, you can quickly post a question to your team (one-on-one or to a group) – chances are, somebody has an answer!

live chat for teams

Be your (friendly) self

With SnapEngage, live chat is a human interaction, and we like to make our visitors feel that way. I like to take a conversational tone that fosters honest communication while delivering on our customer service value proposition. I use emojis and the occasional “haha” or “lol” when appropriate because sometimes, tone just doesn’t convey the same way in chat.

When I reflect back on my first week on chat, I’m amazed at how far I’ve come in just one week! Sometimes the only way to learn is to hold your breath, dive in and SWIM!

Case Study: Agility Recovery

SnapEngage: Agility Recovery Case Study

Live chat offers immediacy and builds trust.

When disaster strikes, businesses trust Agility Recovery to get them back up and running. Agility Recovery helps organizations recover operations after a disaster like a hurricane, flood, fire, or even a burst water pipe. Agility is dedicated to getting your businesses back up and running within 24 hours. “With Agility Recovery, when your company is at its most vulnerable, you’re working with a partner who has done this a thousand times and never failed,” says Scott Teel, Agility’s marketing director.

Agility has helped over 20,000 businesses across the U.S. and Canada develop and maintain a disaster recovery plan. At a few hundred dollars a month, Agility’s membership model makes recovery planning affordable for businesses of any size. “When it comes to physically responding to disasters, and helping people literally put their employees back at their desks, no other organization on the planet does more than we do.” Teel says.

During a recovery, Agility is on-site within hours. They wanted to extend that immediate response to their website, and to move beyond passive customer engagement like contact requests and FAQs.

Agility Recovery SnapEngage“We were limited to folks just picking up the phone or sending us an e-mail,” Teel said. “We wanted to take what was already award-winning customer service, and be more proactive with website visitors.” The goal, at first, was to give their sales team the ability to start conversations with those visitors. “Chat was an obvious next step. It allows us to engage people directly and immediately. We can give them fast and easy access to the tools they need, or connect them to individuals in our company who can serve them more quickly.”

“Not everybody understands right away what we do and who we are,” says Teel. Agility wanted to help business owners better understand their services. Using live chat gave prospective customers the ability to navigate the site with a friendly guide who could help them find the information they needed and answer any questions.

Initially, two or three of Agility’s marketing supervisors served as chat agents because they could answer a wide range of questions about almost every department. “We were really kind of catch-all people,” Teel said.

Not surprisingly, in addition to being a great sales tool, live chat quickly became an asset to Agility’s customer service team as well. As a member organization, Agility puts a premium on customer service that reinforces client trust.

It didn’t take long for Agility’s marketing leaders to notice that many of their chats were coming from existing clients requesting support or more information. So Agility trained two senior staffers in its Member Services Department as second-tier agents. Incoming chats from existing clients are easily transferred to these subject experts for in-depth answers.

“It’s remarkable, the amount of positive feedback we get from both prospective and current members about our live chat,” Teel says. “We were hesitant at the beginning that it would be burdensome to some people, but by and large, it is extremely positive feedback.”

“When you combine being able to serve existing customers better with a higher conversion rate on prospective clients, that’s a no-brainer.”

Agility’s trust in SnapEngage has built over time.

“Using live chat on our website was something we considered for a quite a while, but hadn’t found a tool that completely fit our needs. SnapEngage felt like something that we could test for a while, to find out whether we could manage it internally to the benefit of the business without shooting ourselves in the foot,” Teel laughs. “It was a great success. Now, we’re even beginning to learn new ways to use the tool as it has matured in our little tool belt of assets we use to market our company, and serve existing clients.”

One new trick is Team Chat, which is built into the platform. Team chat lets an agent who’s chatting with a customer open a second, internal chat with one or more colleagues to quickly get information from several internal sources. Team chat allows for seamless customer service, and it saves time for both customers and internal staff.

Agility has also started tracking chat events to analyze how visitors come to the site, how long they stay, and how they interact with the site.

SnapEngage is easy to install on most websites and popular website platforms. The tool is robust and highly configurable, but basic implementation is simple: Just copy & paste a small code snippet into the website. Once the service is installed, all the in-depth configuration is handled inside the SnapEngage Admin Dashboard.

Agility relied on its third-party Webmaster to set up live chat on its site. “It was like a couple of point-andclick type actions for them to get things integrated,” Teel says. “It wasn’t a difficult thing to implement. In hindsight, I wish we’d done it much, much earlier.”

Agility Recovery SnapEngage Live Chat

Live chat has measurably improved Agility’s sales and customer service. “It has become a very high conversion rate tool for us,” Teel says. “Of all the marketing efforts we conduct, SnapEngage has the second-highest conversion rate.” That outperforms requests for information on the site (which requires visitors to submit their name, address and phone number to get more information about Agility).

Phone leads convert the highest for Agility. “If you’re going to pick up the telephone, you’re pretty darn interested in us,” Teel explains.

Agility’s strongest close rate combines live chat with telephone follow-up. “If you visit our website and chat with us, and that leads to a telephone conversation and we end up submitting a proposal, those proposals close at the highest rate across the board,” Teel says.

“From a customer service point of view, we feel like we’ve been able to serve people more quickly and efficiently,” says Teel. “When you have the ability to better serve existing customers and a higher conversation rate on prospective clients, that’s a no-brainer.”

4 Tips for using chat to build trust.

1. Think like a storefront.

You’d greet shoppers who came into your store, wouldn’t you? You should extend that same human touch to visitors on your website. Live chat lets you reach out to passive browsers with friendly, attentive customer service.

2. Let customers direct the conversation.

The immediacy of chat helps customers hone in on exactly the information they want with a trustworthy guide.

3. Follow up.

Agility Recovery’s customers often ask for a transcript of their live chat conversation. Teel and his team like the automatic email that is generated for every live chat after it closes; they can share this immediately with customers, who like that attention to detail.

4. Conversation is the key to conversion.

Live chat allows you to start the conversation rather than waiting for the phone to ring. Plus, it puts fewer hurdles in front of prospects. “People don’t have to give their email address or fill out a long form just to have a conversation.” says Chris Vieville, SnapEngage Director of Sales & Marketing. “Talking is a more natural approach to engagement. Live chat allows people to gather more information without obligation. They can ask questions, build rapport – and by the time they provide their contact information, they’re a very interested lead.”

June 19th 2015 Release Notes: Chat Portal, Mobile Optimized and Proactive tweaks


Over the last few days we’ve made the following changes:

Chat Portal:

  • Made sure uploaded images are displayed in order.
  • Fixed an issue with the visitor side maps not always appearing correctly.

Mobile Optimized:

  • Prevent duplicate proactive message from appearing.
  • Ensure that the when returning to an already started chat the we scroll to the bottom of the discussion.

Proactive Chat:

  • Made sure that the proactive chat timezones and visitor cookie lifetime are always being recorded correctly.


  • Addressed an issue where the visitor side call me phone field would extend beyond the chat box when using Safari.
  • Reworked the way file uploads are displayed so that they are always correctly attributed to the visitor or agent.

5 Reasons Your Team Needs to Start Chatting

Improving efficiency and collaboration in your work environment.

Do you find yourself participating in meetings about meetings? When’s the last time you sat through a meeting where the only outcome was scheduling another meeting? While we don’t have any official stats to back this up (other than our own previous work experience), we’re going to go out on a limb and say that 90% of meetings are a waste of time.


There is a place for meetings in the workplace, but they should be reserved for decision making and only involve the people who are essential to that process. For day-to-day collaboration and workplace banter, team chat provides a forum for co-workers to interact one-on-one and in groups without straying too far from the project at hand.

SnapEngage team chat solution

Top 5 reasons your company should adopt a team chat solution

De-Clutter Your Inbox with Team ChatDe-Clutter Your Inbox

As hard as we may try, the out-of-control inbox claims the sanity of many (if not most) of us…except for all you OCD filers/deleters – you know who you are. It’s becoming more and more difficult to sift through the noise of transactional, marketing and system-generated emails to get to the messages that actually require your attention and action. Team chat offers a dedicated space for you to communicate with your coworkers in real time without delays from messages getting lost in the black hole of email.

Cut Down on Meetings

We’re not going to beat a dead horse and continue our rant about wasteful meetings, so instead, we’ll just say: see above. We think you’ll find that [less meetings = more productivity].

Connect Remote (and not so remote) Teams

With more and more companies offering work-from-home solutions for their employees, and in some cases, ditching the office altogether, team interaction and collaboration has taken on a new face. Team chat allows you to have real-time discussions with your team members, as if you were all sitting around a conference table.

Stay On Task With Team ChatStay Focused

For many of us, our work environment revolves around our computer, and impromptu drop-ins and meetings can really interrupt a workflow. Team chat allows you to seamlessly interact in conversations without removing you from your work environment. So now you can provide status updates on your TPS reports while still working on your projects that actually matter.

Make It Fun

Team chat provides a virtual water cooler for your office. Equally as important as the increased productivity that team chat provides is the camaraderie that it fosters among your team. Have fun with it! Exchange jokes, stories, weekend plans… and when words just aren’t enough, post photos, images, gifs and emojis!                   

Team chat is a core offering included on all current SnapEngage plans. For more information on how team chat can benefit your team, come CHAT WITH US or EMAIL US.

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June 11th 2015 Release Notes: Open API Updates


For today we have the following changes:

  • We have added a new field to our OpenAPI JSON to help, widget_id. This is the id of the widget that the chat case belongs to. Now you’ll be able to differentiate where the chats took place while keeping just a single end-point to receive this data
  • We fixed an issue that would cause the map not to always show in the Chat Portal


Introducing: Enhanced Social Discovery Features

We have just enhanced our social discovery features to allow for more admin control over the visitor information that is made available to agents, including social media networks, IP Address and Geolocation information. We have also added several notable social media networks to the list of offerings, including:

  • Hacker News
  • Meetup
  • Tagged
  • VK
  • Yahoo
  • YouTube

The admin dashboard allows you to select the individual social media networks that you would like to pull in for each of your visitors and also allows you the option to enable/disable IP Address and Geolocation tracking.

social discovery controls SnapEngage

Social Discovery

Social media really brings us all closer together and helps build amazing networks and stronger connections the world over. Knowing more about who we are chatting with and being able to personalize your message can go a long way in building better rapport.

If a visitor provides their email, we can collect additional social data which can be displayed for the agent. With SnapEngage whenever someone provides you their email we now can pull all those contact details right into the chat so that you can send a friend request, follow them on Twitter or link up on LinkedIn. Any data provided is from publicly available sources which the visitors are in full control of sharing (or not).

There are a number of highlighted icons that should look familiar. These are the various contact points Bart has publicly made available and now they are just a click away for the agent to add.  Other profiles you might see would be Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google Plus, Klout, Flickr, Quora, Reddit, StackOverflow, GitHub, Tumblr, Posterous, Plaxo, Pinterest and GetSatisfaction. All that information will be present when you start a chat in roughly 5 seconds!

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June 4th 2015 Release Notes: Mobile Optimized, File Exchange and SMS-to-Chat

Happy Thursday Everyone,

Over the past few weeks we’ve been busy adding new features and enhancements:

  • Made the chat time out configurable
  • Sped up our analytics reports
  • Added the ability to filter out system messages when sending chat transcripts to our various integrations


  • Reduced the amount of time for the transfer chat dialog to appear for agents on a lot of widgets