Three ways live chat operators can handle tough questions

Customer service from Carol Beer on Little BritainEvery ecommerce business is special and each has special characteristics and special requirements. But while every customer has a unique set of wants and needs, there are also strong generic themes that run through online customer service enquiries.

At Yomdel, one of the most common questions we are asked by prospective ecommerce clients is how can our live chat operators know enough about the businesses to be able to answer queries correctly. It is a really important question, and if we don't get it right the consequences to the Yomdel client company could be disastrous.

Live chat operators do require specialist knowledge, and they have to both understand and have empathy for the brands they are serving. It is a gradual process of continuous improvement that requires careful and extensive training and a strong collaboration between Yomdel and our clients.

Before the Yomdel operator-backed live chat service goes live on a client website, we take a deep dive into the business so we can understand the business goals, the products and services, and, importantly, as much as possible about customer behaviour and needs. When an ecommerce business is looking to outsource live chat, it needs to feel confident that its partner takes its interests seriously.

1. Learn the frequently asked questions

Every business has common queries. These are more commonly known as the "Frequently Asked Questions" or "FAQs". Just because these scripted responses are available on your website does not necessarily mean that your web visitors or customers will be able to find the correct answers to their questions. As a starting point, all live chat operators should be totally familiar with the website, the brand, the products and services. They should be able to quickly and easily find their way around the site, and know as much as possible about the business. The FAQs are the starting point for a set of canned answers that can be quickly returned to customers. The sooner a customer gets a helpful answer to their query, the sooner they will complete the purchase.

2. Have a clear escalation process

In the British comedy series "Little Britain", a rude customer service agent called Carol Beer goes out of her way to be unhelpful. Typically, a polite and gentle customer comes up against an indifferent receptionist who simply says, "Computer says no," when asked even the most simple question. Carol shows no initiative and no interest in the customer requirements.

Yomdel's live chat operators are carefully trained to make sure they are as knowledgeable as possible, but when they do not know an answer, or when someone else may be better qualified to handle the request, they will escalate. The escalation could be within the pool of live chat operators, or it could be within the client's existing customer service team, or potentially support from a manufacturer.

3. Turn unanswerable questions into customer service wins

Delivering a great live chat service on an ecommerce website is all about answering queries quickly and accurately, but it is also about carefully managing customer expectations. Just because a live chat operator doesn't know the answer to a question it doesn't mean that is the end of the conversation.

Customers can be made to feel really special and valued if the ecommerce business is prepared to go just a few steps further forward. When faced with a question that a live chat operator doesn't know how to answer, at Yomdel we train our live chat agents to use the lack of information as an opportunity to develop a deeper customer relationship and grow satisfaction.

When an answer to a question is not known, score some customer service wins by:

  • Immediately referring the query to an expert for a seamless response. If desired the expert could take over the chat without the customer knowing, they can join the conversation or it can be passed over to them.
  • Promise a call-back at a certain time. At Yomdel we agree certain standards for our service level with our clients. If we are unable to answer a question we will collect the name, phone number, email and nature of the query. The customer is asked when it would be convenient to get in touch. 
  • Be prepared to follow up even if the query has been answered. Sometimes a quick phone call will transform a customer into a brand advocate and fan.

If you outsource live chat to Yomdel, you can be assured that no query goes ignored. Over time our live chat agents are able to handle more and more complex customer enquiries, but there will always be those that require specialist. That shouldn't be seen necessarily as a hurdle, but as an opportunity to build even greater bonds with your customers.

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