Paolo Fabrizio
May 11, 2021

The Best Way to Start Your Live Chat Conversation

How To Start Your Live Chat Conversation

I often get asked ‘what’s the most challenging digital channel to deliver superior support?’ Since this question is directly linked to handling conversations, we need to look at each channel’s specific features (social media, live chat, messaging apps). My answer is definitely ‘live chat‘ because it presents many hidden hurdles. The first challenge is the beginning of the conversation, so I’m sharing a real example with you. Hopefully, this will help you to start your live chat as smoothly as possible.

So You’ve Sent Your Question, Then…

As a customer, whenever you start a live chat conversation, you expect to get an immediate response. That’s normal since it’s supposed to happen ‘live’ just like a phone call but without voice. Consequently, the first pitfall you will want to avoid is keeping the customer waiting for a few minutes before a human or virtual agent shows up. Unfortunately, that’s still a pretty underrated factor. It seems that some brands have yet to realize that their customers don’t like waiting! So the best way to  start a live chat is providing a first response message, meaning:

  • An agent answering the customer within 1 minute after their query – thus starting the conversations or
  • An instant, automatic message letting your customers know their expected waiting time – before starting the live chat and/or
  • An instant automatic message helping the customer find their answers without needing to have the conversation. (e.g. suggesting relevant self-service content according to keywords used in customer’s inquiry.)

So now let’s have a look at a customer experience I had a couple of weeks ago that perfectly sums up all of the above-mentioned approaches. In fact, as you can see below that when I was typing my question I was immediately prompted with the expected waiting time. That prevented me from getting anxious or upset, even though an agent was unavailable at that very moment.

Live chat question

Then, after a few seconds, the bot suggested some content where I might find the information I was looking for. This made the rest of the live chat conversation unnecessary. And that’s what I call a win-win situation!

Related: take advantage of the Digital Customer Service Personas skill-set model to help them master live chat conversations.

Over To You

When you are about to start your live chat, you may choose amongst different approaches based on volume conversation peaks, agents availability, or other variables. However, I suggest that you combine assisted and self-service options to reduce customer efforts. Thus, optimizing also your customer service agents’ experience – by letting them work on those cases where the customer really needs their assistance.

Have great [live chat] conversations.

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Paolo Fabrizio

Digital Customer Service Consultant, Trainer, Author, Speaker. Paolo has been helping companies to harness digital customer service as a business driver. Founder of CustomerServiceCulture, author of books and speaker at conferences in Italy and abroad. Lecturer at the Bicocca University of Milan