10 quick tips on improving the web chat experience

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A few days ago, I was experiencing some technical issues with my FTP (File transfer protocol) software and a crawling error message from Google. I reached out to my server provider Hostgator, for help. I have always been impressed by the help I received from Hostgator via their web chat service. On this occasion, the technical challenges were duly resolved but a majority of things were done right and a few bits should have been better.

This has prompted a deep-dive into key elements that will improve the web chat experience. A research carried out by Econsultancy revealed that live chat has the highest satisfaction levels for customer service channel, with 73%, whilst email was 61% and phone 44%.

Quick tips:

1) Display the waiting time: Hostgator technical support appears to be a very busy one. It was easy to wait when I saw that the waiting time was 17 minutes. The time was not static but gradually progressed towards the zero mark.

2) Use a graphical countdown: The timer had a bar that helped in displaying the proportion of the time of waiting that had to be done. It is believed that powerful visuals evoke emotions and drive deeper engagement. Seeing how far the timer bar had moved made me feel relieved and confident that my solution was drawing closer.

3) Personalisation is critical: During my interaction with the Hostgator technical support staff, I identified and mentioned her by her first name on about three occasions. On the contrary, my name was never mentioned by the technical support team. Dale Carnegie once stated: “A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” To get to the sweet spot in the web customer interaction, it is important to identify and mention customers by their names. It shows that customer is your priority for you to care enough to take cognizance and mention of their name.

4) Burst the jargons with a needle: During the chat the technical support staff was using jargons continuously without bursting them with an office pin or ball pen (figuratively). She used technical terms that I understood with a stretch but that most might find challenging. At some point, I had to ask for clarification on certain statements. The idea is to assume all your customers are toddlers and write in the most simplistic manners.

5) Don’t leave them hanging for dry: A few of the occasions, I had to ask if the support representative was still available. She went silent because she was logged into my control panel, to resolve the issue I had. It is very important to explain to customers or clients that you won’t be typing for a set time because you will be busy resolving their technical challenge. Keeping them in the loop every step of the away is helpful.

6) Take ownership but leave them with the key: Stress management is an integral element in the customer journey. It is very important to be sensitive enough to take the burden of completing a task from the customer. In resolving my FTP (file transfer protocol) issue, my control panel password had to be changed. The technical support staff had to get this done for me and ultimately saving me from the hassle.

7) Make them believe in themselves: Galileo Galilei once said “We cannot teach people anything; we can only help them discover it within themselves.” It is very important to make customers believe they are capable of executing a given task. The technical support staff requested I change my ‘coming soon page’ to a standard theme. At first I was a bit unsure but with her encouragement I got it done.

8) Flexibility will make the experience stand out: The first time I logged into my FTP client, I used an IP address provided by the agent. I received an ‘unable to login, please contact your server provider’ response. The agent tried to figure out why that could be the case and asked me to look up and try a second IP address. She was not rigid on the fact that it had to be a particular IP address. Trying everything possible to ensure my issue was resolved was paramount to this staff.

9) Patience is golden- make it sparkle: No one likes to wait. But in resolving issues especially the technical ones, waiting is very important. She advised me to give it a few minutes and try again. Web chat is a good platform to help customers appreciate values like patience, self-belief, persistence and a host of others. Customers will sentimentally connect to a brand that helps them develop their personal values.

10) Use success stories to establish your expertise and customer happiness: The two issues I had were resolved and the agent stated instances of customers with similar issues, and how they gave it a few more tries and it was all good. Firstly, it showed she had vast experience in resolving these issues and secondly, it was evident that there were a lot of happy web chat customers.

As research reveals that web chat has the highest satisfaction levels, it is very important to manage and maximize the customer experience on this medium.

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