21 Quick Wins for Dealing With Chat and Email

Chat and Email Quick Wins

We asked our readers for their top tips and quick wins for dealing with chat and email.

Three Chat Mistakes to Avoid

1. Failing to use probing questions to clarify the customer’s question or concern

Probing questions are important to clarify what the issue is about. For example “When did this problem first happen?” or “How often has this problem happened?”

2. Failing to use friendly, conversational expressions to enable problem-solving during the chat

It is all too easy to get into robotic mode and forget to be friendly. This is particularly a problem for chat.

3. Failing to set expectations and manage wait time

It is important to set expectations about what will happen next.  For example, if you are arranging a delivery, the customer may think that it will arrive the following day and will be disappointed it it arrives three days later. But if you set the expectation that it should arrive within four days, they will be delighted if it arrives sooner.

Leslie O'Flahavan

Leslie O’Flahavan

Three Email Mistakes to Avoid

4. Failing to customize an email template before sending the response to the customer

The more that you template replies, the more important it is that they are adapted to the customer.  Nobody wants to receive a “Dear Valued Customer” or “Dear {First Name}” email

5. Failing to create email templates that are easy for agents to customize

If you make email template difficult to customize, then you will just increase the number of robotic emails that get sent out.

6. Failing to express empathy

It is important to show empathy to the customer.

You Can Use Empathy Statements

You may be able cut and paste some of these empathy statements.

  1. I would be upset too.
  2. I realize how complicated it is to …
  3. I can imagine how frustrating that would be.
  4. That would be disappointing, especially when [paraphrase the customer’s perspective or efforts] …
  5. We want to understand what happened just as much as you do.
  6. I can see why that made you angry.
  7. This situation is unacceptable to us, too.
  8. If I were in your situation, I would feel exactly the same way you do.
  9. If I were in your situation, I would be asking the same questions you are.

For more digital empathy statements, here’s a full list from Leslie O’Flahavan.

Thanks to Leslie O’Flahavan from E-Write.

7. The Real Reason Customer Teams Make Mistakes

A thumbnail photo of Neil Martin

Neil Martin

Teams with a process-focused culture make more mistakes than teams with a people-focused culture

Great service brands create a culture that fosters good writing:

  • Put people at the heart of your customer strategy, in internal campaigns, slogans, team meetings and 1-2-1 sessions
  • Train your teams to put people first in their writing
  • Create guidelines and share examples to show what good writing looks like
  • Build it into your quality assessment
  • Recognize and reward people for great writing

Thanks to Neil Martin from First Word

For more email tips, read our article: 10 Top Tips to Improve Email in the Call Centre.

8. Not All Advisors Are Comfortable With Using the Written Word

When selecting agents to work on live chat or direct messaging platforms, you need to be careful that they are comfortable with using the written word in the local language, otherwise a simple request or question can quickly turn into a dissatisfied customer and potentially a complaint

Thanks to Ian

9. Keep Some of Your Best Advisors for Non-Digital Channels

The rule used to be put you most experienced agents on digital channels (especially social media). Be careful with this, as when your self-service digital engagement improves, the remaining contacts coming in to the contact centre will be the more complex ones.

Depending on your customer demographic, these may be coming on other channels, such as voice.

Thanks to Aaron

10. Watch How Many Chats You Handle at the Same Time

We will only allow an agent to take three chats and no more than this in one go. If the agent’s ability is a little lower, then we allow just two chats at one time.

Thanks to Bethany

A chart showing how webchat quality decreases when advisor workload increases

This graph demonstrates the number of simultaneous chats an advisor can work on before service quality is compromised

11. Focus on the Customer’s Feelings

The first part of any digital customer service response should be to focus on the customer’s feelings and using empathy.

Only then should you proceed to trying to resolve the issue.

Thanks to Tom

12. Train for Customer Empathy

It is key to use empathy on digital channels.

A great and simple way to measure empathy is to ask “How would I feel?”

Thanks to Neil

13. Acknowledge the Customer’s Feelings

We run quality checks on officers and praise them for being human and acknowledging the customer’s feelings.

Thanks to Reema

14. Use Rational Compassion

Empathy is a great skill but is emotionally and physically draining for agents to be consistently and unrelentingly empathic day in, day out.

Paul Bloom shows how Rational Compassion shows the right people skills and yields better results without the agent burnout/exhaustion.

Thanks to Kelly

15. Paraphrasing Customer Issues

When the customer reports a problem, make a note of it and repeat a summary back to them.

Paraphrasing customer issues/complaints early on helps them to feel understood, reducing tension.

Thanks to AlexU

16. Be Careful With Emojis

Don’t use emojis in your written communication unless you’re mirroring the customer, or it fits with your culture as well as the tone of the interaction

Thanks to AlexU

For more information about using emojis, see our article: How to Handle Emojis in Customer Service

17. Avoid “I am writing…”

Try to avoid using “I am writing …” as this is often seen as obvious, and it tends to make the receiver immediately switch off and think it’s a standard generic response, so they may miss any important or relevant points in the communication

Thanks to Ian

18. Use a Spelling and Grammar Tool

Get Grammarly, an online spelling and grammar checker. Grammarly is great for emails, though it is not so good for chat as that is quick.

Thanks to Bethany

19. Write as Though It Is a Member of Your Family

My best advice is to speak (or type) as though you are communicating with a member of your family.

Treat the words you use with respect and dignity.

Use correct full words, don’t shorten and spell incorrectly.

Always be polite.

Thanks to Lesley

For more information on how to build rapport, see our article: Best Tips, Phrases and Words to Use for Building Rapport

20. Avoid Dead-Air Time

If there is no response from the customer, let them know you are there and they can continue the chat when they are ready.

Thanks to Bethany

For more advice of avoiding dead-air time, read Seven Tips to Avoid Dead=Air Time in Customer Service Calls.

21. Recap the Conversation

Always recap the conversation if you can, and ask them if there is anything else you can help with.

You then may be able to upsell your other services, where you can.

Thanks to Lesley

For more on the topic of improving live chat and email, read our articles:

Author: Robyn Coppell

Published On: 10th Nov 2021 - Last modified: 30th Nov 2023
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