Top Five Skills of Successful Live Chat Agents

Posted by
Barry Lamm
Director, Partner Success
Monday, September 10, 2012 - 12:24

What skills are important when recruiting and evaluating chat agents? How do you develop exceptional chat agents that have meaningful conversations with customers? Through extensive work with over 8,500 customer call center operations, LivePerson has identified the most important skills a chat agent needs to be successful. Here’s our breakdown of the top 5 skills of successful chat agents:

 

Own the Conversation

 

  • Commit to keeping the chat flowing and driving the conversation toward a defined resolution.
  • Use specific questions like “what brought you to our site today” in place of general questions like “how can I help you?”
  • Summarize the conversation’s outcome to ensure nothing has been left to interpretation.
  • Close the chat politely and resolutely.


Be Truly Helpful
 

  • If chat isn't truly helpful, customers won't want to utilize this feature again in the future. Agents must listen and respond to the customer’s needs. This requires more effort than simply answering the questions the customer poses. Successful chat agents must read between the lines and frame answers in the most helpful way possible.
  • Agents must be able to understand the situation at any given moment and know when to escalate to the next service level.
  • Respond to every message immediately. If you need to look something up, let the customer know you’ll be right back. If you leave a customer waiting unexpectedly, they may abandon the chat and the company will lose an opportunity to satisfy the customer.

Communicate professionally
 

  • Watch your language: use proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling in complete, thoughtful sentences and keep use of exclamation marks and emoticons to a minimum. Also, be careful with the use of acronyms or jargon that the customer may not be familiar with.
  • Build rapport, trust and credibility with the customer to make them feel like they are in capable, friendly hands. One tip: use warm language to convey tone of voice in chat.
  • Of course it should go without saying: always avoid any phrases that could be construed as sarcastic or cast a negative light.

Seamlessly multi-task   
 

  • Agents should be comfortable accessing and switching between tools during a chat conversation to ensure they are able to give the most accurate and complete service possible. Tools many agents use may include CRM, sales/lead gen system, company website, product management system, knowledgebase, product manuals, paper collateral, etc.
  • Successful agents have the unique ability to chat with multiple customers simultaneously, without compromising service to any individual customer.
  • Displaying exceptional judgment in determining how much time to spend with each customer at any given moment is also a key skill.

Exhibit subject matter expertise
 

  • Agents must possess in-depth knowledge of the business, products, processes, systems and policies.
  • Provide customers guidance and mentorship in navigating the company website, mobile app or site and social/community properties.
  • Share knowledge in a way that empowers visitors for their next visit and many visits to come.

What other skills of successful live chat agents should we add to this list?

Having successful chat agents on your team make all the difference between a successful chat deployment and a failure. Businesses that deploy chat on their websites should not only make sure they hire skilled agents, but also commit to providing complete training and development opportunities for their agent force. Have questions about our recommendations for best practices? Comment below or contact me directly.

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