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Chat Centers: A Different Type of Customer Service Agent Needed

When was the last time you “spoke” to a customer service agent via chat (and not the chatbot you probably thought you were engaging with?

Probably at least once this week, if not several times, because companies that offer website visitors the chance to “chat” are moving more to live chat, in which a skilled CSR types/chats with customers in real-time.

So the question arises:

Are YOU offering live chat yet?

If not, you should be, because your customers pretty much are demanding it:

  • More than 41 percent of customers expect live chat.
  • 50 percent of customers visiting you via a mobile device expect it.
  • About 73 percent of customers say live chat is the most satisfactory way to communicate with a company.
  • Forty-four percent of online consumers say one of the most essential features on a website is the ability to have questions answered by a live person while they are in the middle of an online purchase. (See link above.)
  • Millennials are 20 percent more likely to use live chat.
  • Customers who use live chat can spend as much as 60 percent more per purchase than customers who don’t.

Lastly, by 2022 (that’s just three months away), about 85 percent of businesses are expected to start offering live chat support.

Which is why you’re going to need customer service agents with a slightly different set of customer service skills

For example, spelling and grammar skills are critical.

Some candidates believe that their incredible speed when texting is a plus. It can be, but texting is far different than responding to someone’s questions.

For one, chat CSAs use a full-size keyboard: they will type their answers. Typing speed and accuracy are critically crucial because replying within seconds is best; a response no more than 10 minutes later is the maximum, and that’s more and more becoming “too long” of a live chat question response time.

Grammar also is essential. Abbreviations and acronyms are rampant when texting, not so when responding to customer’s questions.

CSAs also will need to become comfortable with constantly checking their responses for errors, as mistakes in chat can – and do – reflect poorly on how customers perceive not only the customer service they’re receiving but also the quality of a business’s products/services.

Important point: chat probably will never replace the need for phone CSRs

Some customer service issues always will need to be handled in real-time with a live customer service professional.

Such instances can include:

  • When a customer’s issue is complicated.
  • When a customer needs immediate relief from a problem.
  • When a customer’s issue has become fraught, and a client turns angry because they feel their concern hasn’t been handled in the way they’d like/the outcome is unsatisfactory, having a real-time phone conversation with an experienced CSR skilled in de-escalation and resolution often is the only recourse available.

Recruiting chat customer service agents

While chat work may be harder to come by for individuals with poor spelling, grammar, and writing skills, we’ve found it’s somewhat easier to attract chat center candidates as the work is far less stressful: it’s impossible for customers to yell at a CSR via chat. Anger is diluted via the written word, and if a customer uses profanity during the chat, it’s much easier for a CSR to take it objectively/not personally.

Chat agents also should understand – and enjoy – juggling several different “conversations” at once, all while keeping track of each chat customer’s issues, needs, and where the chat is in its timeline (beginning, middle, waiting for a delivery date/refund answer, and so on).

While not required, chat agents should be able to pivot quickly and have a knack for thinking ahead and anticipating customer issues, questions, and concerns. This often means that many experienced phone CSRs welcome the chance to move to chat: all of the helpful problem solving with none of the verbal nastiness from upset customers.

Important note: we’ve found that chat agents shouldn’t move back and forth in their work between chat work and “regular” CSR work (talking to customers on the phone). It’s best to have a designated call center team and a separate, designated chat team. Why? Because, as mentioned above, the skills needed are somewhat different.

For example, phone CSRs talk to customers one-on-one, one at a time, while chat agents need to juggle conversations with several different customers simultaneously. The ability to pivot quickly between customer chats – while ensuring their answers with each response “match” the correct customer – is imperative for a chat agent.

Hire Dynamics and chat agents

As you move from chatbots, contact the expert contact center recruiters at Hire Dynamics when you decide to offer live chat to your clients and prospects.

Learn more about how we can help you staff a live-chat center.