If you asked your customers how they feel about your customer service, what would they say? The answer may often be surprising: 80% of companies believe they are providing superior customer service, whereas only 8% of their clients agree.
Why is that? It seems that most companies are still trying to understand what their customers expect from them. An interesting statistic is that 73% of customers prefer live chat tools over other channels of communication with your business. And that’s why so many businesses implement live chat software.
But, even then, the most important element of communication with customers is the actual human agent behind the software. And that’s why, for creating great customer service experiences, you need to train and hire agents with these five essential live chat agent skills in mind:
1. Impeccable writing skills
Writing skills are essential because they directly affect conversations with customers over chat. Especially if your agents chat with multiple consumers at a time, it’d be difficult to deliver quality services if they can’t express themselves properly in writing.
So, when it comes to hiring a live chat agent, see if they have:
- Good grammar skills
- Extraordinary typing skills (to avoid typos and delays)
- Ability to understand what the customer is saying before they answer
2. Fast response time
60% of customers don’t like to wait longer than a minute. And in a live chat session, they expect to receive an answer in seconds (did you know that a 47% of customers think that a fast response to their query is the key sign of a superior customer experience?).
Train your agents to reply to customers fast – at a maximum, customers should receive a reply within 30-45 seconds. Otherwise, they may leave and form a negative impression about your brand. On the other hand, a short response time has significant positive impact on conversions:
Of course, things happen, and your customers might often need to wait for a while before they can get support for unforeseen reasons. In this case, don’t ignore them. Instruct your agents to send customers a message to apologize and say that they will be with them shortly. And here’s an idea: if you want to buy some time, use a pre-chat survey. Or implement a cobrowsing tool to reduce the time needed for an agent to resolve a customer issue by being able to see the customer’s screen and make the necessary actions.
(See the example of HDFC Life Insurance about how they used a time management program to offer quality service and increase sales).
While recruiting and evaluating live chat agents, check their multitasking ability. This is one of the most important qualities of a chat support agent because, on live chat, a customer service agent may need to handle five to six customers at a time.
Apart from innate live chat agent skills, multitasking is also a matter of practice. Arrange live chat support training sessions on a regular basis. This will help motivate the customer service agent by making them more confident when dealing with customers. And, it will translate to exceptional customer service.
4. Learning ability
A customer support agent should always be ready to learn and understand new information. They might need to study new software updates or changes daily and navigate through different types of software to provide effective and quick responses. They must also be able to comprehend new challenges customers face and find the best solution on the fly. Learning and discovering new and effective shortcuts while staying true to existing processes and software is an important part of building and maintaining quality service.
5. A human approach
The biggest advantage of live chat software is the refreshing human touch behind the customer’s screen. So, train your agents to speak in a friendly and conversational way, not robotically. Your company’s sympathetic voice will gain the customer’s trust. Sometimes just a simple ”thanks” or ‘“sorry” can make a huge impact – just like with people we meet on the street or the shops.
Apart from live chat agent skills, look at customer service in a holistic way
If you hire for these five live chat agent skills, and train your agents properly too, you’ll be well positioned to offer high quality customer service. But don’t forget that it’s not only your agents who should uphold these qualities: “Customer service is not a department. It is a philosophy to be embraced by every employee, from the CEO to the most recent hire” (Shep Hyken).