Live Chat Best Practices


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No mat­ter which ser­vice or sup­port chan­nel a cus­tomer chooses – the cus­tomer expe­ri­ence must be pos­i­tive. A grow­ing num­ber of cus­tomers are opt­ing for web chat when need­ing to com­mu­ni­cate with a com­pany. Web chat has many ben­e­fits for the cus­tomer includ­ing the abil­ity to multi-task, which is a wel­come advan­tage for peo­ple with busy schedules.

How­ever, the customer’s expe­ri­ence can be less than favor­able if the live chat agent uses too many scripted lines, fails to per­son­al­ize com­ments, or asks ques­tions irrel­e­vant to the customer’s need. While many ser­vice and sup­port agents will tran­si­tion nat­u­rally into a live chat role, some may need chat eti­quette train­ing to improve their writ­ten com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills. Con­tinue read­ing to learn the five must-know best prac­tices for effec­tively using live web chat for cus­tomer ser­vice and support.

1. Be Proactive

There are two options for imple­ment­ing live chat. First, allow the cus­tomer to select a but­ton to ini­ti­ate a live chat with a cus­tomer ser­vice rep­re­sen­ta­tive. This approach elim­i­nates the chance of annoy­ing cus­tomers and lets them select the sup­port or ser­vice chan­nel they pre­fer. The sec­ond option is to auto­mat­i­cally ini­ti­ate live chat after cus­tomers have spent a cer­tain amount of time on a page. This method increases the like­li­hood of issue res­o­lu­tion or cus­tomer pur­chase by increas­ing the num­ber of chat inter­ac­tions. Smart com­pa­nies know that offer­ing live chat as a sup­port chan­nel is a wise deci­sion. They also know that offer­ing live chat and insti­gat­ing the com­mu­ni­ca­tion is a proven method of increas­ing rev­enue and low­er­ing oper­at­ing costs.

2. Cus­tomize Wel­come Messages

It is com­mon for live chat con­ver­sa­tions to begin with scripted intro­duc­tory phrases. Overuse of scripted phrases can set a neg­a­tive tone and make the cus­tomer feel unim­por­tant. Tak­ing the time to cus­tomize the intro­duc­tory dia­logue to com­ple­ment page con­tent, or at the very least over­all web­site con­tent, can go a long way to engag­ing a cus­tomer. Show­ing that you under­stand the customer’s needs and pain points is an ideal way to build rap­port and increase brand loy­alty. Use per­son­al­ized com­ments to set the cus­tomer at ease and to show a sin­cere desire to help.

3. Don’t Over-Personalize

There is a fine line between cus­tomiz­ing a customer’s expe­ri­ence and going too far. You may know that a cus­tomer has vis­ited a par­tic­u­lar prod­uct page ten times in the last 2 days – but it is not appro­pri­ate to share this data with the cus­tomer. Divulging every lit­tle detail can make cus­tomers feel as if their pri­vacy has been invaded, and may hin­der the deci­sion to pur­chase or con­tinue with issue res­o­lu­tion. Use infor­ma­tion gath­ered judi­ciously to add value to the conversation.

4. Com­mu­ni­cate Clearly

Gram­mar is impor­tant in all writ­ten com­mu­ni­ca­tion — and even more so in busi­ness com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Web chat may be a customer’s first touch-point with a com­pany and the com­mu­ni­ca­tion style of the cus­tomer ser­vice or sup­port rep­re­sen­ta­tive sets the prece­dent for the customer’s over­all expe­ri­ence. Employ­ees mon­i­tor­ing a live chat ser­vice or sup­port chan­nel must have good writ­ten com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills and the abil­ity to effec­tively express empa­thy in writing.

5. Express a Will­ing­ness to Serve

A pos­i­tive atti­tude and good prod­uct or ser­vice knowl­edge are two key ele­ments to pro­vid­ing great cus­tomer ser­vice. Like all customer-facing roles, a live chat rep­re­sen­ta­tive must express a gen­uine desire to help. The use of pos­i­tive phrases such as, “Here’s what I can do” and “Let’s work together,” instills con­fi­dence in cus­tomers and shows that the live chat rep­re­sen­ta­tive and the com­pany put value in cus­tomer satisfaction.

Con­sider these five best prac­tices when imple­ment­ing live chat and you’ll see:

  • Hap­pier customers.
  • Reduced cost of operations.
  • Improved prof­its.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Rachel Miller
Rachel Miller is the Customer Engagement Manager at Nimble - a simple, affordable social relationship manager.


  1. Thanks for the post, Rachel. These are very good tips.

    I’d like to extend the list a bit further to reach what I define my "Golden Rules for Online Customer Interactions”:

    – Route the contact to the right agent and, never, offer proactive engagement if you do not have available agents

    – Give the Agent all the information to handle the chat properly – a lot of them come directly form the navigation path, referral page, product in the chart and so on

    – Target the most profitable visitors and the ones that need real help: most customers live well with web self-service

    Design the chat interaction around the webpage not as a different channel. Co-browsing and page pushing are much better that never ending canned messages.

    – Train agents properly to support online customers: it needs different skills that phone support

    and finally consider to integrate chat with voice media(VoIP & CallBack), sometimes a "voice conversation” is more efficient and fast than chat.

  2. Great additions Gianluca! I agree with your points and agent training is definitely an essential step in providing excellent online support.

  3. I really liked your point about customizing welcome messages. I use live chat quite often so I can really tell when a company puts some time into theirs.


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