It's Friday. You're queuing up emails for next week's big product announcement when all of a sudden your email service stops working.
While the platform has slowed to a crawl, your heart is racing. This is a huge launch; it has to go well!
Frantically shuffling through tabs, you find your way back to the homepage and click the chat box in the bottom right of the screen. At the same time, you're drafting up an email to the team, preparing for the bad news.
“Hello, my name's Jan, what can I do for you today?”
You fly through the problem, short and punctuated sentences, all the while trying to reload the page with your precious email series.
“Looks like there's just a blip in the system. If you reload the page it should be good to go.”
“I'm so sorry for the inconvenience! I know how scary that can be. How's it look?”
The page finally reloads and you see that all your work is still there, ready to go. Thanking Jan, you sit back and let out a sigh of relief.
More and more, live chat is how customers want to interact with your company. Not only is it one of the fastest ways to receive support, but it also gives the customer an easy way to work on other tasks at the same time. It's so effective that 79% of customers say live chat is their preferred support avenue.
Providing excellent support via live chat does, however, present its own unique difficulties. The team members who communicate with your customers via chat will need to have a certain set of skills to be successful. We'll take a look at the things you should be looking for when hiring a chat support agent.
Why is live chat support important?
As chat support grows in popularity, companies will need to provide their customers with the best possible experience to be competitive. Not only will this help give customers the support that they need, but it's also a great way to keep customers coming back again and again.
Being able to support a customer faster means that they'll experience less frustration with the product. Any questions that arise will be handled faster than email or over the phone.
Response times via SuperOffice.
Chat is a great way to speak to prospects and leads as well, as anyone browsing your website can easily ask their questions to the team directly.
Contacting support can take time away from important tasks. Customers who use live chat will be able to work on other things while still solving a problem. This ability to multitask is another benefit for customers. When implemented correctly, live chat also has some of the highest satisfaction rates of any support method.
The chat support job responsibilities your team needs
Providing support via chat is different from talking to customers on the phone or via email. A successful chat support agent will need different skills to communicate with customers effectively. Here are 10 chat support job responsibilities to look for in your next chat support agent.
1. Has great written communication skills
Priority number one. Being able to communicate effectively in a fast-paced, written medium is a must for any chat support agent. They will need to communicate ideas to customers in a clear and concise manner while also keeping up with the speed that is expected from a chat platform.
Responding to customer inquiries quickly, directly, and succinctly will also help with overall satisfaction ratings. There's nothing more frustrating than working with a chat support agent who can't communicate.
2. Engages proactively
Most people who use chat support do so with the idea that they'll also be able to complete other tasks while getting their questions answered. Chat support agents need to drive the conversation to make sure they can provide quick support.
Being able to multitask is a great benefit for customers, but it can also lead to difficulties for a chat 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 pushy.
Many chat platforms will also offer proactive options as well. Customers who come across this option will not be seeking out a conversation on their own. This means that your team will need to be able to communicate with someone who doesn't necessarily know their question yet.
3. Multitasks effectively
Typically, support agents will handle more than one chat at a time. For each chat, your team 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 facilitate these kinds of workflows, but if the chat support agent isn't comfortable bouncing between different tasks on their own, it will be difficult for them to be successful.
4. Asks probing 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 probing questions helps support agents parse difficult situations quickly and correctly. Live chat agents need to know how to drill down to the core of an issue to identify specific customer pain points.
This is where chat platforms can be at a slight disadvantage. Where phone support and email can spend the time talking through the intricacies of a particular problem, a long back and forth on chats can make it more difficult to understand the issue. There's nothing more frustrating for a customer than not having their problem understood or being asked questions that don't move the conversation towards a satisfactory conclusion.
6. Understands trigger statements
Providing support via 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 might indicate frustration or anger. When working through a difficult issue with a customer, it can be hard to know when to back off or push forward with 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 customers 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 always knows what's going on.
Your team should never shy away from over-communicating. Letting the customer know that it might take a few minutes to look into their issue can go a long way. This not only makes sure that the customer knows exactly what's going on, but it also helps to bypass the potential for frustration on the customer side.
8. Uses their personality
Being personable on the phone is easy; vocal tone and inflection go a long way in making the conversation more fun. Chat support agents don't have that luxury. Your team will need to find a way to show their personality in different ways. This ties back to the written communication skills job responsibility, as your chat support agents will need to know how to show their personality without speaking.
Depending on the company brand, there can be a few options: your team could use emojis, make jokes (when appropriate), or use a more affable 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 while maintaining a professional attitude. Chat support agents should be able to assess each situation individually.
9. Doesn't need a script
Customer service scripts don't work. Nobody likes them. Yes, there are benefits to training a new team member in the tone of your brand, but when a chat support agent needs a script to speak to customers, they'll never fully support them.
Your chat 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 always comes off as robotic. Your agents should be able to communicate their 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 is an important chat support job responsibility. Your chat support agents will only have a few lines to answer a question before it gets eaten up by 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.
Finding 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.