There are a few of basic rules we observe at Olark every day to keep customers happy:
1. Answer the chat quickly. Immediately, like now. Even if you’re in 6 chats and are super busy, take the 4 nanoseconds to say, “Hi, Bill here, what’s up?” There are few things more annoying and frustrating for your customers than initiating a chat and then waiting… and waiting for anyone to reply.
2. Be personable and personal, right from the chat. It you can tell the name of the person you’re chatting with, use it. A, “Good morning, Rolando, what can I do for ya?” will go a long way towards relaxing the chatter who may be tense about talking to a stranger, especially when they are having trouble with something and asking for help.
3. Let them know you’re not a bot. Train yourself to NOT speak corporate. React to the verbal/written style of the chatter and speak their language. Meaning, if you’re answering chats on a gamer site, it’s great to use slang and truncated words and call them dude. If they are new to your product slow down and simplify your message; if it’s with a developer, ramp it up and speek tech talk straight to the point. If you sense a sales/marketing VP in a suit behind that chat window, adjust accordingly. Become a verbal chameleon.
4. Keep it light and personal. A little joking and lightness (if you typo, tell them you’ve won the Typo King competition at your company for 3 years running, Boohya!) can go a long way toward making your visitor feel at ease. If they ask where your company is located, tell them how hot or not the weather is and ask them what it’s like in Madagascar (or wherever they are) at the moment? A little offline chatter within reason fully humanizes the interaction.
5. I also highly recommend adding an avatar and being creative with it. I alternate images between an avatar of The Dude and Fred Rogers — one gets me a million responses quoting The Big Lebowski (which I can recite in its entirety from memory) and the other gets somber respect. Who, I ask you, will raise their voice to Mr. Rogers? Avoid like the plague clip art images of peppy looking people with headsets queuing up to take your call.
6. Take it easy with the canned responses. Sure, I use TextExpander every single day – it’s an indispensable tool for chat – my hello and goodbye message, countless (well, 87 to date) urls to kb articles and web pages come in extremely handy, but I shy away from standard answers to most questions and strive mightily to adhere to list items 2, 3, and 4 from above. And even when I DO use a canned answer, I almost always edit it before sending to personalize it per user and their issue. It’s well worth the 8 seconds it takes to do so.
7. Never give up on a difficult case and never show impatience. Let the visitor give the clues for ending the chat. Always say “thanks for dropping by, don’t hesitate to come back if you have more questions.” Do it right and I guarantee that they will come back.
For a deeper dig, features-wise, do some poking around in the Olark (Desk.com) Support Center, searching by keyword or browsing by topic. Click here to read the whole post about getting started with chat. It’s all here — or if you don’t find something you need, tell us and we’ll write it up asap. Or click on our live chat button anywhere, anytime, we’ll be glad to help you out.
Editor’s Note: Bill Thompson is the Guru of Customer Happiness at Olark.com. He has been involved in Online Community and Internet Customer Care and Service since Web 1.0. Hit Bill up on Olark.com live chat. He’d love to hear from you. Visit the Olark blog for more great customer service insights!