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11 Tips for Responding to Chats, Including Essential Etiquette and KPIS

Chat support is increasingly being used as a new channel for customer service. It’s sometimes referred to as chat support.

Many people have tried chat support for the first time, but find it difficult to operate and manage successfully.

In this article, we’ll introduce 11 tips to remember for chat support. We’ll also explain chat response etiquette and how it can improves customer satisfaction. At the end, KPIs to measure response quality will also be explained for reference.

Communication Business Avenue has been helping some of the world’s largest companies to integrate call center systems and digital communication tools for the past 16 years.

11 Tips for Chat Handling

You may have already started chat handling, but feel that customer satisfaction is not improving. Here are 11 tips to help you create a chat response that your customers will find useful and want to use again.

Decide Who Will Be in Charge of Chat Response

Assign more than one contact person, who can be dedicated or dual-attached. One person can handle two or three chat correspondents at the same time. Unlike telephone support, where only one customer can be served by one operator, chat support reduces the cost of support per operator. It is therefore easier to allocate staff than telephone support.
The advantages of having more than one person in charge are that the speed of the initial response can be accelerated and the burden on the operator in charge can be reduced as he or she can operate on staggered breaks with other personnel.

Put the Right Person in Charge

The right person for chat support is someone with telephone support experience. The Call Centre White Paper 2021 describes the skills required for chat support as follows.
‘The most common answer is ‘concurrently held by an operator who also handles emails’ at 37%, but chat ‘has more in common with telephone support than email in terms of the skills required’ – Call Centre White Paper 2021, page 106.
Chat responses are characterised by having more in common with telephone support, as they are mainly text-based conversations. The quality of the response can be improved by putting experienced telephone support operators in charge.
In the chat support of a major portal site, results have been achieved by first having the person in charge of the chat response respond to emails to learn how to write replies, then having him or her gain experience in talking to customers by responding to phone calls, and finally having him or her take charge of the chat response.

Teaching Chat Handling Etiquette to Personnel

It is important to teach chat handling etiquette to your staff. This is because chat responses differ from telephone or email responses in a number of ways.
Firstly, chat is different from other responses in that it’s difficult to understand the level of distress of the customer who has made an enquiry. It can be difficult to judge whether the customer is in trouble to the point of panic or just casually wants to know something about the product or service. Be aware that if you do not keep chat etiquette in mind, you may upset the customer’s feelings.
Chat responses need to be short and agents need to reply using short sentences. If you reply without knowing the etiquette, the conversation may meander without getting to the point and the response time may be unnecessarily long.
The chat response etiquette you should know is discussed below.

Non-hardened Responses

Chat responses by human operators, unlike chatbots, are characterised by warm responses. Try to avoid using stiff expressions and use human-like reactions and words of appreciation. Agents should use little phrases such as “That’s nice” and “That’s encouraging.”
Be careful not to use stuffy expressions such as those used in email correspondence. Take advantage of the ease of chat and try to use concise phrases in your conversations.

Providing Positive Information

The key to chat responses that improve customer satisfaction is to provide positive information. Don’t just reply to the enquiry, but also provide information that will benefit the customer. It’s important to provide them with information and knowledge that will benefit them in order to impress them and make them “glad they asked.”
⚠️ Linking the chat system to the CRM and checking the enquiry history will help to provide personalised information.

Pay Attention to When to End the Chat

In chat responses, it can be difficult to know when to end a conversation. It is sometimes difficult to judge whether the customer still has questions or whether this is the end of the query.

If the operator closes the conversation thinking that this is the end of it on their own, this can lead to unexpected complaints. Be sure to ask, “Do you have any more questions?” or “Is this the end of today’s enquiries?”.

Setting up a Chatbot

As chat enquiries are easy to make, the number of enquiries can spike. It is therefore recommended that initial responses and frequently asked questions are handled by chatbots.

Only those questions that cannot be handled by the chatbot should be escalated to a manned chat flow.

Where to Set up a Chat Response Window?​

Have you created a chat window but seen low usage – Google research shows that 90% of people who visit a site will leave within 30 seconds. Make sure you place the chat window in a location where site visitors can find it within those 30 seconds.

Where are the most effective locations? Generally, the highest chat usage rates are on FAQ pages. You may want to place the chatbot on a page where visitors are likely to leave, so in asking whether they need assistance, you encourage them to remain on your site.

Use telephone and email correspondence together

Some cases cannot be resolved by chat response alone. You should have a system in place to link this with telephone and email.
For example, complex questions or complaints can be switched to the telephone, and if it takes a long time to be resolved, it can be switched to an email response. Some companies determine whether the chat response is likely to take longer in the first five minutes and switch to email if it is likely to take longer.

Analysing History

The quality of responses can be improved by analysing the history of chat responses. You can identify and analyse questions such as “What questions are taking a long time to respond to?” or “Which responses took a long time because the guidance was not appropriate?”

The current status of response quality and the KPIs that help to identify improvements after analysis are explained later in this section.

Don’t Force a Response When You Are Busy

Chat enquiries may increase and you may not be able to keep up with the response. Forcing operators to respond however can lead to mistakes and unnecessarily long conversations.
The best way to deal with busy periods is to let the customer know that it will take time to respond or hide the chat window pop-up.
The Call Centre White Paper 2021 explains the following points to consider when closing the chat window.
As long as the chat window is not displayed on the website, which is the entry point, no new sessions will be generated, so this technique is gaining ground. However, caution should be exercised because the more frequently this is done, the more likely it is that the very existence of the contact point will not be made known. – White Paper on Call Centres 2021, page 108.
It is recommended that measures to close the chat window should be a last resort. Alternatively, the timing of the chat window can be delayed beyond normal. A pop-up that is normally sent out as soon as the FAQ page is visited can be delayed by a few dozen seconds during peak times.
✅ This problem does not occur with next-generation chat messaging. Messaging allows you to respond without worrying about the speed of replies.

Manners in Chat Correspondence

As chatting is similar to using a private social networking service, it is easy to forget about manners. It is also difficult to find the right balance between not being too casual and not being overly formal, while being conscious not confuse chat etiquette with email etiquette The following are the six manners required for a good chat response.

Text That Is Not Offensive to Anyone

Depending on the type of chat, the history of the response may be recorded as text, so you never know who will read it later. Be sure to use expressions that are not offensive or uncomfortable for anyone to read. To achieve this, it is necessary to acquire basic knowledge of compliance and business documents. Make sure that this is the first thing you teach, when training for your staff.
You can also request external training to help you deal with chat. Alternatively, in some cases, chat system vendors provide training.

Email Manners Are Not Used

Chat correspondence does not need the greetings and clichés at the end of sentences that are mandatory in email manners. Expressions such as “Thank you very much for your continued support” and “Best regards” are unnecessary. Avoid redundant sentences as they reduce the efficiency of the chat.

Emojis on a case-by-case basis

Sometimes it is difficult to decide whether it is acceptable to use pictograms during a chat. In conclusion, there is no correct answer regarding the use of pictograms. It is a case-by-case decision.
You can decide whether or not to use pictograms depending on your corporate culture, customer base, the products you deal with, the theme of the conversation, etc.
💡 In the USA, medical institutions and insurance companies have started to use some pictograms. Pictograms such as ‘house’ and ‘umbrella’, which are related to the products they deal with, and pictograms that help support customer understanding, have been decided in advance and operators are allowed to use them.

Include Search Terms

Chat responses tend to have long talk histories. To make it easier for customers to search for information later, be sure to intersperse search terms. For example, instead of writing ‘that product’, include the specific name ’00 product’.

Concise Sentences

Try to reply while keeping each sentence short. A long sentence with too many punctuation marks is difficult to read and blurs the meaning you want to convey. Long sentences are difficult to read on smartphones and tend to be avoided.

Avoid Canned Messages

The advantages of chat responses are flexibility and a warm, human touch. Be careful not to use canned text, as this does not bring out the advantages of chatting. Even if there is a certain amount of canned text for opening and closing, it is best to avoid canned text during the response.

KPI's for Chat Response

You may be thinking, “We are providing chat support, but we don’t know if the operation is going well” or “Senior management doesn’t really understand the effectiveness of chat support”.
In order to determine whether your chat support operation is effective or not, you need to set KPIs; once KPIs are set, you can measure the effectiveness of your chat operation and understand the current situation. When the response is improved, it is also possible to measure the effectiveness of the improvements. So what KPIs can be set?
The KPIs used in chat responses are as follows
  • Time to response
  • Customer satisfaction
  • CCpLH
  • Number of responses
  • Usage rate
  • Conversion rate
  • MCS
Each of these items is explained below.

Time to Response

This is the most commonly set KPI for chat support. According to the Call Centre White Paper 2021, it was the most frequently set KPI for manned chat. Compared to last year, the number of companies using ‘time to respond’ as a KPI has increased by 30.1%. This indicates that the number of chat responses is increasing and therefore the time customers have to wait is getting longer.
The longer the waiting time, the lower the customer satisfaction, so setting this KPI will help you determine when to take action.

Customer Satisfaction

The next most commonly employed KPI is customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction can be measured by surveying customers after the chat response is complete; this KPI is sometimes referred to as CSAT, and you should aim for a figure of 90%.
To increase the response rate to surveys, some companies have lowered the barriers to response by making it a two-choice process or simply selecting a pictogram.

CCpLH

CCpLH stands for Closed Conversation per Login Hour, a KPI used in the USA, where chat support is gaining momentum, and measures how many responses are made per hour.
The standard average figure is that the number of chat responses is twice as many as the number of telephone responses. For example, if your call centre handles three calls per hour, it is considered normal if the number of chat responses is twice that, or six.

Number of Responses

The number of responses should count not only chat responses, but also telephone and email responses. By comparing the number of responses to the centre as a whole, it is possible to measure how much the introduction of chat responses has reduced the number of other responses and how much the burden of telephone and e-mail responses has been reduced.

Usage Rate

You can measure how much the chat response is being used. Checking the utilisation rate will help you to know where and when to set up an appropriate chat window.

Conversion Rate

This is a KPI required for e-commerce sites. It is an item that clearly shows how much the chat response is contributing to sales.

MCS

MCS stands for Meaningful Connection Score and is a KPI that lets you know what emotions users are experiencing during a chat. It is a KPI developed by LivePerson, a leading chat commerce company in the USA.
❗MCS is an indicator that allows you to know whether your chat response is really satisfying your customers. In fact, the survey after the chat is over does not fully reflect customer satisfaction. Only a small number of people answer the questionnaire and the majority of those who do are satisfied with the chat response.
This is why MCS was developed to measure customer emotions in real time during the chat.
Using the MCS indicators, the text during the chat can be analysed to visualise the emotions of the user, as shown in the table above. By tracking emotions during the chat, you can see in real time who is dissatisfied with the response. It will be able to support operators before a complaint is made.

Frequently Asked Questions About Chat Support

When you are running a chat support operation, you will probably be asked many questions at the field level. Here are some “frequently asked questions” and answers from sites where chat support has already been implemented.

What do you do when you need to go to the toilet during chat support?

If you need to go to the toilet while chatting with a customer, you can ask another person to take over or tell the customer that you will call them in 00 minutes to take a break. However, this problem does not occur with asynchronous chat (messaging).

I’m Having a Long Chat With a Customer, What Can I Do?

If possible, you can switch to email or telephone support. When switching, it is important to be specific about the current problem and what you are going to do to solve it, rather than simply saying ‘we will investigate and get back to you’. Customers are more likely to be convinced if you then explain that you will let them know as soon as you have a response ready.
What should I do if I haven’t received a response from the customer for hours? If there is no response, first check whether the customer still wants to talk and whether the dialogue can continue. If there is still no response, you can close the dialogue. With messaging, even if the customer contacts you again a few hours later, you still have a history, so you can immediately start responding where you left off.

In Conclusion

The key to quality chat responses is the effective selection and training of the agents in charge. The best agents for chat handling are experienced telephone agents. Once you have selected the person in charge, you should teach them chat handling etiquette. Training can cover compliance, business email etiquette and the use of pictograms.
Setting KPIs is essential to maintain and improve the quality of chat response. Please refer to the seven KPIs presented in the article.
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