What are the Customer Service Skills Chat Agents Need to Have?
With the highest satisfaction levels for any customer service channel, the evidence is clear: customers really like live chat.
The purpose of providing a live chat channel is to give your customers access to customer support that is equally as warm and friendly as that provided by your best phone support representatives. However, live chat is different from a phone call because it takes place right on your website and all replies must be accurate, concise and helpful. How do you identify the live chat agent job candidates who can perform best in these conditions?
5 Qualities & skills to Look for in Live Chat Support Agent
Recent live chat agent skills bench-marking research conducted by FurstPerson’s own Dr. Brent Holland outlines five skills that transcend live chat programs. Although the relative importance of a skill may vary from job to job, the skills summarized below are critical for virtually every live chat job.
1. Chatting Communication Skills including Writing, Grammar & Punctuation
The ability to communicate effectively in writing is obviously a baseline skill required for live chat. Online customers want their questions answered with clear, concise information that addresses their needs and helps them resolve issues. Research has found factors such as poor grammar skills reflect badly on your company. If you make a bad first impression, you’re likely to lose your customers' trust, their interest, and their business.
According to criminologist and jury consultant Dr. Jo-Ellan Dimitrius and business litigator Mark Mazzarella in their book Put Your Best Foot Forward:
“Surveys have found that those who do not use good grammar are considered less credible, confident and intelligent…Good grammar is particularly important during the initial impression formation phase of your relationships when you don’t have the luxury of time and experience from which others can overcome initial negative stereotypical impressions.”
When your agents know the ins and outs of grammar, spelling, and punctuation and how to communicate well in writing, it makes it much easier for your reps (and your business) to establish trust and credibility early in the interaction.
2. Multi-tasking & Problem Solving Skills in a Fast-Paced Environment
Finding and hiring agents with solid multitasking abilities doesn't just increase productivity - it can mean a big payoff in customer satisfaction and ROI as well.
In larger companies, it is likely agents will be assisting two to six (or more) customers at one time, and it’s important for agents to be able to give an equal amount of quality attention to each customer. In these cases, agents need to conduct concurrent chats while using a CRM platform as well.
According to ProvideSupport, “47% of consumers say that a fast response to an inquiry or complaint is the key element to an ideal customer service experience.” The faster your agents can respond to your customers and help them find a resolution, the more satisfied your customers will be.
3. Ability to Quickly Navigate Software Programs and Use Shortcuts
Handling chat support cases requires preforming certain actions hundreds of times each day. Learning not just the software but the shortcuts that can be used to speed up conversations can shave time off interactions.
According to Zendesk, customers prefer short wait times. "We expected, and found, a negative correlation between live chat customer satisfaction and first reply time,” the report noted.
The use of live chat support requires knowing how to quickly learn and navigate specific types of software programs and platforms in order to find satisfying resolutions for the customers as efficiently as possible. The ability to quickly learn your organization's software and apply the appropriate shortcuts allows agents to complete tasks in an efficient, streamlined manner.
4. Accurate Data Entry & Speed Typing Skills
Similar to phone support agents, live chat support requires inputting customer account numbers and other customer data while maintaining the interaction. If information is entered into the system incorrectly, the conclusions could be inaccurate, leading to a less pleasant overall customer experience.
5. Customer Service & Attentiveness to the Customer
While live chat agents don’t have the advantage of nonverbal cues such as tone, inflection or being able to emphasize certain words the way telephone support representatives do, research shows attentiveness contributes to providing a pleasant customer experience and building strong customer relationships.
According to Zendesk, “there’s a tendency for customer satisfaction to increase as more messages are exchanged between an agent and customer during the chat conversation. We aren’t sure exactly what drives this relationship. (It could be that some customers are both easily satisfied, and very talkative!) But it might show that customers are happier with agents who take the time to ask more questions—or signoff with an added, 'It was nice working with you today!’”
When businesses understand the unique skills needed for success in a live chat role, they can then focus on hiring agents who excel in those key areas.
How to Identify Skills when Hiring Chat Agents who will Excel in Customer Service
Instead of leaving your customer interactions to chance when hiring new live chat agents, you can test these essential skills with live chat simulation assessments. These tools provide job candidates with immersive experiences, and hiring managers with in-depth insights into future performance.
From identifying an agent’s ability to multitask to gauging creative problem-solving, FurstPerson has developed solutions that will help you meet the challenge of hiring high-quality live chat representatives and accomplish consistency in these essential qualities.
Topics: Contact Center Hiring