6 Ways to Improve the Efficiency and Productivity of Your Live Chat Agents

August 26, 2015


The verdict is in from too many sources to count, and they all say that live chat is the most cost effective way to manage support and communicate with website visitors.

As good as live chat is, though, it is only as effective as the agents that use it and the way they communicate with customers or visitors.

At first thought, using live chat to communicate with your website’s visitors should be easy and straightforward, and the basic mechanics are indeed simple.

Nevertheless, live chat efficiency depends a lot on training your agents to use the platform effectively and productively.

Keep It Short

When training your live chat agents to communicate effectively, one of the most important things to teach them is to keep their replies short.

Discourage your agents from making replies lengthy or complicated. Long-winded replies not only take longer for agents to type, they take longer for visitors to read.

So, encourage your agents to make things quicker and easier for customers or visitors by offering short replies or answers.

If your agents or operators need to explain how to perform a process or other technical task, tell them to split the instructions or replies into bite-sized chunks visitors can digest and comprehend quickly and easily.

Split steps into individual sentences and send them one at a time. If the visitor needs to go back to a step, he/she can find it much easier if each one is sent as a single sentence, rather than having to read through lengthy paragraphs to find it.

Canned Responses Are Your Friend

As you use a live chat application, you will find that your agents may use some responses, answers or replies over and over again.

If this is the case with your agents, creating canned responses can save them considerable time versus typing common replies needlessly and repeatedly.

Canned responses are pre-made replies that allow you to cut down on typing time significantly.

Therefore, instead of agents needing to type the same 50 to 100-character reply again and again, they can simple select it from the canned response list and double-click it or click “Send” to send it along to the visitor.

Over time, you can use canned responses to great answers to FAQs or help guides for common problems.

Remember, canned responses are your friend and increase agent productivity considerably.

Prioritize Chats

One of live chat’s greatest strengths is the ability to chat with more than one customer or visitor simultaneously.

While concurrent chats are indeed a fantastic productivity tool, they can also be distracting to some live chat agents or operators.

When your agents handle multiple chats, tell them to be sure they are not making visitors wait too long for answers or replies.

In fact, instruct them to handle questions or chats from longest-waiting customers first and to prioritize those who have been in the queue the longest.

This will help avoid customer or visitor complaints and help improve quality of service.

Speak Their Language

Teach your agents to be on the lookout for keywords your customers or visitors use during chats as they relate to your products or business.

Sometimes, customers have strange ways of describing products or features or terms in general. For example, if you’re having a sale, the customer may call it a discount and vice versa.

When this happens, tell your agents never to correct the visitor, but to assimilate the language and use it in the chat.

If they want to call a promotion code a “bonus number,” so be it; let them. Instruct your agent to show the visitor how to use the “bonus number” to make the chat flow faster and instructions clearer to the customer.

Two Screens Are Better Than One

Savvy agents already know how to switch between your live chat application and other support programs, such as your CRM, and this is definitely a good practice – most of the time.

Still, no matter how adept your agents are at using keyboard shortcuts, the practice is still much slower than simply being able to view your live chat application on its own monitor.

With a dual-monitor setup, agents can work with the CRM, helpdesk or email applications on one screen and still be able to respond to messages or chat inquiries quickly on the second.

Adding a second monitor is a relatively inexpensive solution and prevents needlessly pressing “Alt+Tab” a few hundred times per day.

Pacing Agents

While agent efficiency and productivity are both very important to the success of your live chat system, it’s equally important not to overload your team.

Good live chat systems allow you to set limits for each agent as far as concurrent chats are concerned. Remember, that just because one agent may be able to handle five or six chats at the same time, that does not mean they all will be able to perform at that level.

Set realistic limits for agents in the beginning, and encourage them to increase their chat limits – but slowly and while providing excellent service.

With good training and encouragement, good agents can become exceptional and very good agents will become your support superstars.

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