Eight Etiquette Tips for Live Chat Agents

Eight Etiquette Tips for Live Chat Agents

Client interactions speak volumes about a business

Working live chat support, things can get deathly dull or incredibly hectic depending on the number of people who need help at any given moment. In these stop and go situations, it can be tempting to get a little casual, to make jokes across your desk to coworkers, and perhaps even become a little careless with customers (especially when the queue is packed).

However, whether you’re feeling overstressed or particularly playful, it’s important to remember the basic etiquette rules of chat support. While some of the rules stem from etiquette established by the early instant messenger crowd, what’s most important to remember is how to stay professional.

1) Respond Promptly

We know that chat agents often work more than one chat conversation at once, which can be hectic and very distracting until you get the hang of it. However, no matter how engaged you are with another client, do your best to never leave another chat client hanging. If one of your clients has made a comment or asked a question, do your best to give at least a preliminary answer promptly. This helps the customer not feel as though they’ve been forgotten or abandoned during any long pauses on your part. The quick response is especially important for your first chat message in order to prevent clients from feeling ignored. Instead, answer promptly and welcome them to the chat conversation, then get back to your other client interaction.

2) Introduce Yourself

To the customer, you’re not just an avatar in their chatbox. You’re a real human who will be able to assist them in real-time and that matters a lot, especially if the client is frustrated or confused. Make sure to introduce yourself in a friendly and personable manner. If you have a preferred nickname (i.e. “Will” instead of “William”), inviting the customer to call you by it can create the feeling of a more personal connection and make it easier for the customer to open up about their problems. State your name clearly and make it clear that you’ll be taking care of all the customer’s needs today. Make sure to ask the customer’s name if it is not already apparent, then address them by their name throughout the conversation to build a stronger rapport.

3) Avoid Hard “No”s

Sometimes a customer will need something that you can’t provide either because you don’t have the authority, you would need a different department, or sometimes because the request simply is not possible. Even if it’s the latter reason, do your best to find solutions and alternatives instead of always giving a hard “no”. Gently let the client know that you might not be able to help them with that particular task but would be happy to help them find another solution. Offer a few alternatives or to transfer them to someone who is more knowledgeable about their situation. This way, the customer is never let down by your support because you are continuing to try your best to help them.

On the flip side, don’t drag out a situation with a client if you and your team are certain that their specific request cannot be accommodated. In these situations, it’s best to communicate clearly to set proper expectations so that clients fully understand what is and is not possible.


4) Check In During Long Pauses
A long pause in chat can mean a lot of things. Worst-case scenario, the customer has been pulled away and the chat may disconnect while the best case scenario is that the customer is compiling many details about their troubles from which you can glean useful troubleshooting information. Either way, if you don’t have a visitor typing indicator UI element (such as the SnapEngage Sneak Peek feature), checking in to make sure everything is OK during a long pause is a great way to show that you’re keeping track of the customer and care about the outcome of your support conversation.


5) Don’t Use ‘Chatspeak’
This can be a big challenge for almost any chat agent used to informal language, especially those born after 1990. For some, chatspeak is effectively their native tongue and they’ve been speaking it since texting required thumbs on a real number keyboard. Have no doubt, some of your clients will absolutely ask for technical or customer support in chatspeak, but it’s best not to answer in kind. It may be tempting, fun, and convenient to chatspeak with your clients but it isn’t professional. Instead, carefully watch your spelling, grammar, and punctuation to maintain the professional appearance of your company.

6) Stay Friendly, Even When the Customer Isn’t

Unfortunately, sometimes it’s tempting to match the client phrase for phrase in an entirely different way. Every now and then you will encounter a truly angry or mean customer who’s ready to fight anything and everything. This sour mood is often a result of technical issues, the reason they contacted you in the first place, yet it has overtaken their good sense to the point of name calling a humble chat agent. Try your best not to respond in kind no matter how rude a client becomes.

“Try not to respond in kind no matter how rude a customer becomes. The best way to either diffuse or endure […] difficult encounters is to stay perfectly polite and cheerful.”

The best way to either diffuse or endure these difficult encounters is to stay perfectly polite and cheerful. If it helps, take their bad mood as a dare that you can’t keep your composure, then win it. If the chat was really tough, reward yourself later on for keeping your cool. Don’t forget that your teammates are great allies in situations like this. Whether you need a colleague to step in and continue a difficult conversation or just need to vent about the woes of the day, it’s ok to lean on your team for support.

7) Know When to Call for Backup

It’s great to be able to handle absolutely every call, chat, and email ticket on your own, but in reality, you will find this dream to be unrealistic. Every now and then someone will need something you simply can’t provide. Whether they need help from a different department or their problem is beyond your ability to solve, there will come a time when you’ll need help from a manager, a technician, or even just a more experienced chat agent. When this happens, the best way to complete your interaction successfully is to stay positive and work closely with your colleagues to quickly find a resolution for the client. After all, that’s what the company support infrastructure is there for. Take notes about how your colleague assists the client and use these situations as learning opportunities for the next time around.

8) Thank the Customer

Always end conversations on a positive note. If they don’t log out immediately after you find a solution (clients often do this, they are a busy bunch!), remember to thank them for contacting you through live chat support and let the customer know that they’re welcome back if they ever need anything else. This is a warm way to close the encounter and will leave your customers feeling appreciated and welcomed.

6 Tips for Managing a Remote Team

6 Tips for Managing a Remote Team

How can you ensure that your remote team is successful?

Working remotely has quickly gained a foothold in a wide variety of American industries, allowing significantly more flexibility that can be a positive for both employer and employee. Not only do at least 43% of employees now work occasionally out of the office but about a third of the workforce spends at least four days working at home or on the go.

But while there can be a variety of benefits attached to the remote revolution, it also brings a series of challenges that team managers have to be prepared for. From learning how to run an effective and engaging remote meeting to finding a balance between micromanagement and freedom, the best managers of today know how to handle the complexity as the remote trend intensifies. Here are six tips for managers to consider when overseeing a remote team.

1. Embrace the upside of happier workers

No matter how cool your office setting might be, workers of today simply want to have the option to work from home at least some of the time. In fact, somewhere between 80 to 90% of employees would like to be able to telecommute, which is roughly double the number of employees who actually can. That’s certainly at least part of the reason why telecommuters generally tend to be happier and many studies have shown a considerable increase in productivity. But the same studies have also pointed out that happier, more productive workers aren’t guaranteed without the right system and managerial oversight.

Although managers now have a work force that can be easier to tap outside of normal office hours, they also have to be careful not to push the envelope, as more and more companies are also offering telecommuting. However, managers that can utilize a highly motivated remote work force without going too far can turn telecommuting into faster project turnarounds and better all-around team efficiency.

2. Take the time to build relationships

One of the first things to go in a remote setting is everyday relationships, which have always had a way of gluing together office-based teams. While some managers might regularly do office pools and small events to keep a remote team in regular contact, there’s nothing wrong with simply taking a short period of time during a remote meeting and seeing if anyone has anything to share. Little touches can be enormously effective when it comes to forming connections on a team, yet they’re often overlooked once a team stops sharing the same physical space every day.

Teams with unconnected workers are much more prone to a lack of engagement along with raised levels of turnover and the potential for lowered profitability, which can be avoided by a manager who is even mildly tech savvy. With the availability of tools like SnapEngage Team Chat, a manager can easily create a virtual water cooler that can keep employees engaged with each other outside of more formal settings like meetings.

3. Figure out the right meeting setting(s) for your team

One of the best things a manager can do is be honest about the team, which is a fundamental part of figuring out how to hold meetings when you have remote workers. For many companies, having regular, in-person meetings remains the easiest and most effective way to remain on the same page. Fitting with the remote culture, many managers also mix in meetings out of the office as well, with quiet cafes and restaurants off the beaten path tending to be good options for productivity and engagement.

In companies that don’t really need face-to-face meetings often, or at all, choosing the correct type of setting will be even more critical. A manager has the option to go with video meetings – especially with smaller teams – or an assortment of other ways to do group phone calls that are less intrusive. With some understanding of personnel, a manager should be able to hone in on the right fit, a process that can be made easier with a little input from the team. Even for companies that stick with in-office meetings, however, having at least some system in place for remote meetings is still an essential for a team with telecommuters.

4. Try to be consistent with meeting times

Whichever method a manager decides is the best fit for the team, it’s important to schedule meeting times as far in advance as possible and avoid changing times unless it can’t be avoided. Considering a main advantage of telecommuting – assuming productivity remains high – is increased schedule flexibility, a manager who often changes meeting times is likely to frustrate employees and struggle to get the most out of meetings. Successful remote workers need to be good at time-management no matter the industry, and erratic meeting schedules can make it much more difficult to plan a work day or week. After all, the last thing a manager wants is an engaged telecommuter having to stop for an impromptu meeting, or plan his or her schedule around a meeting that ends up getting nixed. Although some cancelled and moved meetings are inevitable, being consistent as possible with meeting schedules is even more important when you have employees who might be working from anywhere.

5. Don’t leave staff members behind

For younger generations, telecommuting is the most natural thing in the world. To other generations, it can be an awkward fit that doesn’t suit an employee’s lifestyle. If your company has started offering telecommuting, or is planning to shortly, it can be important to determine which employees are ready to go and which team members might need a few tips and a little push. Ensuring that everyone on your team – in private, if needed – knows exactly how to use any new software can be key to keeping employees from feeling alienated from more tech savvy team members. Companies also have to be much more cognizant about security software due to remote workers, giving even more incentive to follow-up with employees who might have trouble adapting. By being available to help with any technical difficulties, a manager can provide a personal touch that can help make the transition a smooth one.

6. Recognize the good and the bad of downsizing office space

A major incentive for companies to shift to increased telecommuting is obviously the possibility of cutting office space, although smaller offices can also yield a more positive atmosphere for collaboration. But there also can be a cost to the team if a manager doesn’t recognize the increased potential for problems with a smaller office, particularly if employees will be sharing office space. With remote workers dipping in and out of the office, it’s important to setup clear parameters and a schedule for who is going to be utilizing the space. If needed, some general rules about what can and cannot be stored in the space might be helpful, particularly for team members who don’t know each other well. Even with the bottom-line advantages of downsizing, managers have to be able to correctly pair employees together and set appropriate guidelines to avoid drops in morale and production.

By being aware of both the benefits and possible drawbacks of remote work forces, however, a manager has plenty of tools to quickly setup a positive work environment every bit as interconnected as in-house teams. With a manager willing to showcase the right balance of structure and flexibility, a team will be in a much better position to capture the upside of telecommuting.

Release Notes Week of Dec 11: Salesforce lookup by external (Facebook) ID; Capacity Report across multiple widgets

Hi,

here is an update on what the development team has been working on since the last release note blog post:

 

Improvements

  • We have added an option to look up a Salesforce Contact, Account or Lead by an external ID – for example coming through the Facebook channel without an email address. You can find more information about this in the help article here.
  • Analytics Capacity Report: We now support displaying the agent capacity across multiple widgets.
  • Japan is now available as an available country for the Call-Me feature.

Resolved Issues

  • Fixed an issue where the ban button did not work to ban visitors on the Design Studio.
  • Fixed the mobile view of the button on IOS resizing unexpectedly in landscape mode.
  • Fixed an issue where the audit logs could not be downloaded because of a disappearing download button.
  • Fixed an issue where Permissions admin users could not log in using SAML.
  • Fixed an issue where some widgets and agents appeared multiple times in the transfer menu