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3 Pro Tips for Effective Live Chat Tech Support

By R. J. Stangle / August 25, 2014

When it comes to solving complex issues, live chat support with remote take-over has many advantages over the phone. Yet many companies still struggle to make it perform to its full potential.

One of the biggest challenges is to successfully juggle simultaneous sessions while delivering consistent customer experience. Based on years of work and hundreds of thousands of live chat support interactions, here are 3 best practices we’ve learned along the way. These tips have enabled our agents to use their time more efficiently so they can attend to the “human” part of other sessions in progress.

1. Manage shrinkage with the customer in mind

For those unfamiliar with support lingo, “shrinkage” is the time during a workday when agents aren’t required to be productive—for lunch, meetings, or to grab a coffee. In phone-based support, shrinkage also takes place between two calls: agents resolve the issue at hand before taking time off from their desk. In chat-based support, several sessions are active at once, so they’re always in the middle of something.

Of course, you could always organize replacements at lunchtime, but transferring the work to another agent could lead to errors, lost time, and, in the end, less customer satisfaction.

Pro Tip: It’s better to let agents take ownership of their sessions and honestly inform their customers when they’re stepping away from their desks. Pre-defined scripts can come in handy for this, such as: “I need to step out for a few minutes, so you won’t see any activity on your screen. I’ll be back soon to help you resolve this issue.”

2. Use scripts wisely

Pre-defined scripts are a great way to save agents’ time. However, you should only script your most frequently used messages—the phrases agents type several times a day. If you prepare too many scripts, the customer may feel the frustration of being served a script no matter what they say.

Pro Tip: Agents should always keep some level of spontaneity in the support experience they offer. Customers want to feel that they are speaking to a person who is capable of relating and understanding them. In a recent survey looking at how scripts affect the customer experience, over two-thirds of the respondents said their customer service experience improved when the agent didn’t sound like they were reading from a script. Encouraging the exchange of authentic conversations is also an opportunity to get valuable feedback on recurring issues or even great practices that you may not have been aware of!

3. Better push than pull

Since agents can serve several customers at once, how do you distribute incoming chat requests? You can opt for a “pull” approach, in which staff can see all the available sessions and choose one when they’re ready. Or you can use a “push” approach, in which chats will be automatically assigned to agents based on their availability.

Pro Tip: In our experience, most agents can juggle a maximum of three to five chats. Superstars on the other hand may be able to handle as many as seven to 10 at a time, depending on the complexity of the support context and the sophistication of their support tools. When setting up the “push” system, you may want to create several groups: Group A (the superstars) will be assigned up to seven simultaneous sessions while Group B will only get a maximum of three.

It’s important to assess the right level of concurrency for your team or you risk frustrating both agents and customers.

The key to effective live chat

Live chat with remote control is a cost-effective way to achieve the customer satisfaction you want. For customers – it’s the simplest way to get quick, helpful answers without the interruption of a lengthy phone call with tech support. For support professionals – chat allows them to resolve several support requests at the same time.

While efficiency is a critical factor for both customer and agent, the real measure for session success lies in the agent’s ability to relate, understand, and help the customer. The key takeaway, never compromise your humanity for the sake of speed.

To learn more about tech support, download our "Five Reasons to Outsource Tech Support" guide.

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