I sit behind a computer a lot, pretty much all day long. I check news sites, I write at work, I write at home, I send Tweets and update Facebook. Like many others, I am probably more likely to answer an email or a tweet than I am to answer a phone call. So when it comes to getting some help with a question or a need – I’m the person digging around on your website for a chat option, because I have too many things going on to try to wait 30 minutes for a rep to pick up the phone.
Not too long ago, I was on a chat with a company and felt like I was not being respected as the customer. I kept being told to hold on, there were long delays in getting any kind of response, and it seemed like the person wasn’t interested in dealing with my questions.
If you have read our post over on the AMEX Open Forum you know that we have very specific policies in regards to the way we handle customer service. When we decided to integrate a chat option, we kept many of the frustrations in mind and adopted five rules on how to responsibly use our customer chat feature.
- Take people chatting with customers off the phones. When we get notification of a chat, the person handling it immediately goes out of the phone queue. The chat customer deserves our full attention. We would never take two customer phone calls at the same time, so why try to juggle a chat and a phone call?
- No pop up window asking if someone wants to chat. We make our chat button visible and available on our website. We never “time” our customers and interrupt their browsing session in order to ask them if they need help. If they need us, they will let us know.
- We don’t ask our customers for feedback at the beginning of the chat. We feel like this can take advantage of the relationship we have with our clients. We believe that we shouldn’t ask our customers to “sell” our business for us, but if they want to talk to the manager or leave us great feedback, we will happily accept it.
- We let them know what’s going on. If a customer asks us something and we have to do some research on it, we always let them know to hold on for just a second and we’ll check everything out for them. If it takes us longer than we expect, we go back to the chat and update the customer. We would never leave a customer on the phone on hold for a long time and we don’t do that with our chat customers.
- Still no scripts. We have no phone scripts and we have no chat scripts. Just like over the phone, being able to operate without restrictions allows us to develop a friendly relationship with a client and better answer their questions. Copy and pasting is lame.
For the most part, customer chat seems to run smoothly, but recently, I’ve had some really annoying experiences and wondered why companies make things so difficult. Chatting is a great way for customers to contact us and we’ve had great success with it. Our customers are happy to have a lot of options if they want to get in touch with us. What are you doing to make chat customers feel as welcomed as those that call in on the phone?