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When it comes to support channels, you could make an argument that chat is the most challenging to truly do well.

You need the same real-time delivery as phone support, but typing takes longer and you can’t lean on your elevator hold music. You want the same accuracy and personality as email, but it’s tough to find the best GIF on the fly, or have instant recall for an edge case question.

As we’ve researched the growth of live chat as a support channel and explored using it to support our own customers, what not to do has become just as apparent as what to do. Here are three common mistakes to avoid when you’re setting up your support team for live chat success.

Lesson 1: Acting like a robot

 

Think about some of the clunky chat experiences you’ve had. When you were the customer, how do you wish you’d been spoken to?

Even actual robots are being programmed to mimic humans, so remember that the way you speak is the goal. It’s up to you to deliver a supremely personal human experience! If you don’t know where to start, model your chat style after your email support style guide.

Lesson 2: Taking on more than you can handle

 

Because live chat is … well … live, make sure you don’t bite off more than you can chew. Customers expect a more rapid response with chat, so quantity doesn’t necessarily equal quality in this scenario. Just because it’s chat doesn’t mean the problem is simple. The depth of a given problem will influence the time and attention you need to dedicate to that customer. Consider that before adding another customer to your active queue!

Of course, you’re trying to give customers a great experience by resolving their issues quickly. That intention, however, is lost on the customer when you’re calling them by the wrong name or sending them an answer that doesn’t line up. Take the extra few seconds to verify the response you’re sending and who you’re sending it to; in the end, it’s better to have a customer wait a few minutes longer than to have a bad experience with you once they have your attention.

Adding live chat support? Help Scout integrates seamlessly with live chat for better conversation tracking. Learn more.

Lesson 3: Forgetting that it ain’t over till it’s over

 

Unlike email, chat is all about real-time support, which means you need to be prepared to stay the course with each customer until their problem is either solved or taken to the next step. This makes it even more important to set expectations, both for customers and your own team.

Office hours listed on your contact page are an easy way to let customers know your chat availability. For your team, try overlapping teammates so the person reaching the end of the day can sign off chat a half-hour beforehand. Or schedule their online hours such that their day ends an hour after your live chat hours end, reducing the impact on their personal time.

Bonus Tip: Take Breaks

 

Do you have live chat nightmare stories, either as a customer or live chat service provider? Please share in the comments — we’d love to hear your stories, and anything you’ve learned from using live chat!

Abigail Phillips

About the author: Abigail is on the customer success team at Help Scout, the invisible help desk that helps you build a company your customers love with more human, more helpful customer support tools.