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THIS MONTH'S GUEST ARTICLE
Across a wide range of business and engineering topics, these articles are presented with the intent of sharing knowledge and provoking thought, possibly even serving as a catalyst for action. Send us your topic suggestions and abstracts. We are always in search of engaging professional content. Contact us at news@vaeng.com for details.

Connecting with Customers Through the Keyboard: Getting Your Chat Service Right
December 2018

By: Kate Zabriskie

Customer: Hi, I’m having a problem with my bill. I’m being charged $50 more than what I expected. Could someone please help? I’m finding this very frustrating. Thank you.

Chat Agent: Hello! Glad you are chatting with me this morning! This is Matt. What can I do for you today?

Customer to Himself: Huh? Well for starters, Matt, you could read what I typed before asking what you can do! Furthermore, you can take that smile off your face.

Providing exceptional service via chat involves more than simply choosing a technology platform. Chat is a distinct communication channel with its own set of rules, and organizations that choose to implement a chat system need to prepare their service representatives to use it effectively.

Step One
After you’ve chosen a chat platform or while that activity is in process, you should determine who on your team is well suited to serve customers online. Chat service providers should be able to type, and they should have a basic command of English spelling and grammar.

Step Two
Once you have a team in mind, you must identify some rules to guide their chats. The following questions are examples of basic considerations you should know the answers to before your representatives start typing.

• How many chats should an agent handle at once? (In the beginning, nobody should attempt more than one, and even experienced agents shouldn’t divide their attention among more than three.)

• What topics can and can’t be addressed via chat? Depending on your industry, regulations may limit what your representatives can and can’t say.

• When will you move customers to a different mode of communication if chat is not appropriate?

Step Three
Sometimes organizations implement chat, and the tone of what’s typed takes on a stilted or off-brand look and feel. For that reason, it’s important to think about what on-brand messaging looks like before rolling out the chat platform.

How should a chat start if a customer has already shared information? What words and phrases align with your brand? What words and phrases should providers avoid?

How should representatives address angry or frustrated customers? In what way should greetings differ?

A good way to start thinking about your organization’s look and sound is to start chatting. Visits sites that use chat. Think about each experience: what you liked, what you didn’t, the brand you felt, and so forth.

Step Four
Be prepared for the obvious. Anyone who has worked in service usually starts to notice patterns. For example, if the provider is an online retailer, close to the holidays the organization may receive more inquiries about delivery times. If the provider is a utility, representatives may realize they receive more inquiries about billing on certain days of the week.

The point is to plan for the expected. Just as telephone service agents in most industries should know how to handle the top 20 or 30 customer requests without having to reference a lot of documentation, the same is true for chat. Consistency is essential. This is especially true when it comes to the basics.

Before being set loose with a keyboard, providers should go through both systems training and roleplays that address common inquiries.

Step Five
Determine the extent to which you wish to use canned responses. Pre-written text has its plusses and minuses. On the plus side, it’s quick, it’s not written in the moment, and it’s had the opportunity to be proofread by one or more people. On the other hand, canned text can sound canned. Furthermore, representatives sometimes choose pre-written responses that don’t get to the heart of what a customer is asking.

So what’s an organization to do? The answer to that question varies. No matter the option chosen, canned text should sound conversational. If you wouldn’t say what’s written in the course of natural speech, it probably isn’t right.

Chat is supposed to be a dialogue. It’s not a brochure, the text from a website, or worse still, verbiage from a policy or legal document.

One way to help maintain a conversational tone is to keep your text short. Long sentences usually equate to a longwinded or unnatural feel.

A good place to source potential pre-written responses is from your representatives’ actual chats. If your organization is like most places, some people will show a natural gift for chat. Why not leverage their strengths and skills?

Step Six
Learn from your failures and your successes. When service goes wrong, most first-rate organizations address the shortcomings. Beyond fixing what’s broken, the best organizations also invest time in figuring out what went right and why. They then replicate the good.

As with any service interaction, chat can go well, or it can go poorly. The key is monitoring, course correcting, and standardizing success.

Providers and their supervisors should regularly review chats. What can we leverage? Where are the opportunities? What was on-brand? What was off-brand? The questions are essentially endless.

The trick is to systematically ask and answer them. The more methodically you evaluate your chats, the quicker you will capitalize on what works and eliminate what doesn’t.

Step Seven
Chat training is not a one-and-done activity. Needs change, technology evolves, and staff turns over. Ideally, organizations should focus on one or two best practices a week, they evaluate the pre-written text twice a year, and they spot check transcripts daily.

Chat is no longer a novelty, and more customers expect their service providers to offer it. No matter where your business is in the chat-implementation process, there is always room to improve the way you connect through a keyboard.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Kate Zabriskie is the president of Business Training Works, Inc., a Maryland-based talent development firm. She and her team help businesses establish customer service strategies and train their people to live up to what’s promised. For more information, visit www.businesstrainingworks.com.



Guest Articles
Below are listed the 12 most recent Guest Articles.
To see the entire list of Guest Articles, visit the Guest Article Archive.
To be alerted to new Guest Articles, subscribe to The Virginia Engineer Newsfeed: Atom / RSS

Connecting with Customers Through the Keyboard: Getting Your Chat Service Right
December 2018

Providing exceptional service via chat involves more than simply choosing a technology platform.

By: Kate Zabriskie

Giving Yourself Permission Slips to Succeed
November 2018

Joan was sitting at a round table when a hand descended over her right shoulder and slapped a piece of paper down on the wooden surface. A permission slip lay before her. Joan wondered, “Why do I need a permission slip?”

By: Sarah Bateman

Three Simple Training Tips to Dramatically Boost Company Performance
October 2018

Many companies view training as a “nice to have.” They think it is important to create an attractive, engaging training program for new hires …

By: Cordell Riley

Eight Elements That Comprise a High Performance Enterprise
September 2018

It’s no secret that the workforce and the nature of work itself are rapidly changing. Many organizations, particularly large ones, are like an ocean liner that can’t turn on a dime.

By: Sue Bingham

Wield the Five Keys to Leaving a Positive Leadership Legacy in Your Life
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Many successful business people have pondered their leadership legacy—how do they want to be remembered. And many of them struggle to find the answer.

By: Jeffrey W. Foley

1+1=7! Leveraging Intangibles for Business Wealth
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Every day, businesses lose money by not understanding or leveraging their investments. When one considers the financials of organizations, it is clear that a significant portion of those investments are not captured in financial statements.

By: Baldwin H. Tom

It Wasn’t Raining When Noah Built the Ark: Prepare for Family Business Quarrels Now
June 2018

There’s no such thing as a family business without conflict. If you Google “family business feud,” in less than a second, you’ll get roughly 1.2 million hits.

By: Mitzi Perdue

Monitoring Power Quality and Electrical Testing
May 2018

The demand for clean and safe power in mission critical operations is advancing overnight due to the rapid pace of technology improvements.

By: Ivan Alexander

What Do My Employees Need to Know About Cybersecurity?
April 2018

A cybersecurity awareness culture is critical to the success of your company. Employees need to understand how their actions positively and negatively impact the cybersecurity posture of your company.

By: Bryce Austin

Seven Best Practices to Budget (and Spend) for Marketing
March 2018

For anyone charged with allocating marketing dollars, it can seem like an arduous and even dicey process to decide how much to spend annually, and on what.

By: Andy Slipher

Seven Methods to Put Management Pillars into Practice
February 2018

People management has drastically changed since earlier decades, where the corporation was king and people were just workers to serve operational efficiency. The operational model for today is mission, purpose and sustainability. Today, teams and team leaders are kings.

By: Jan Makela

Maintaining Business Stability Amid Political Turbulence
December 2017

Have there been times during your career where you felt like you lost focus in your business? Outside influences may have affected the course you had set, tossing your business plan into a turbulent storm of chaos.

By: Jeff Bush


Guest Article Archive
 
 
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