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March 5, 2021

Do you work in customer service line and wonder how you could answers customers on live chat in a more professional and polite way? We understand your concern very well!

The expectation for a great and professional customer service is always running high, so one can never stop learning.

We all have doubts from time to time on how to compose certain phrases, so that we give the customer the correct answer and at the same time create the right impression in them and provide a positive experience with our company.

With this live chat cheat sheet, we would like to help you overcome some of those doubts and concerns. In this post you will find some of the phrases you can use in your work immediately to become a more professional customer service agent.

We hope each one of you will find something useful for yourself today! So let's get on to it...

It's always helpful to first give some structure to your live chat interactions with customers. It helps you to learn faster and a structured conversation always looks more professional.

So let's break down our imaginary live chat with a customer into several different blocks and examine the different situations you may potentially encounter in the course of a live chat.

Greeting the customer on live chat

Using a proper greeting to open a chat may sound very basic, but actually not everyone fully understands the importance of a good greeting. As we all know, a bad beginning makes a bad ending.

A greeting should be professional, while remaining friendly and personal at the same time. A good example would be:

Hi John! Thank you for reaching out. How may I help you today?

If the customer did not provide their name, you can ask for it. It will show your concern and attention:

Hello! May I have your name please?

However, it's good to have this automated within your chat app. For example, the chat tool that we created at Provide Support allows you to configure your pre-chat form in a way, in which the customer would enter their name before they start a chat with you.

Of course, if they don't want to disclose their real name, they can also enter any nickname or type nonsense into the name field, as some of us do:) Still, it's better to try and ask for it in advance, rather than entering into an unnecessary conversation about it.

Once you have the customer's name, make sure to spell it correctly. Look out for a convenient way to grab the customer's name within your chat tool, such as a keyboard shortcut by which you could copy and paste the name and avoid misspelling it.

If the customer jumps the gun and starts the chat with a description of their problem, a good example if a greeting would be such, in which you acknowledge your understanding of the problem:

Hello Mary! I understand the problem and will be happy to help you. Let me see what I can do for you.

Clarifying the customer's question

To avoid a confusion and a long and tiresome chat, make sure you understand the customer’s issue before giving the help instructions or offering a solution.

There are many ways you can politely ask the customer to clarify the issue:

Let me check that I have this right...

Let me see if I have this correct. You want me to…Right?

You would like for me to…Is my understanding of it correct?

If I understand you correctly...

Tell me more about...

So you are saying that ... correct?

This is what I understand you are telling me...

Saying "I don't know" without sounding dumb

If you don't know the answer to the customer's question, be frank about it, however, avoid using the too straightforward "I don't know".

Here's how you can play it out nicely:

That is a good question, let me find out the answer for you.

I'm not sure, but let me check this for you.

I'm sorry, I don't have the information on that. May I put you on hold for a few minutes? I will clarify this with the team.

I'm sorry, I'm afraid I don't have an answer for you right away. May I have your email/phone number? I will check this with the team and get back to you asap.

I'm sorry, this question would be out of my expertise, but let me connect you with tech support (another department) and my colleagues will assist you. Do you mind holding for a few moments while I am connecting you?

Escalating the issue

Let's admit it, most of us don't enjoy being transferred and waiting on hold. So always try to find out the information for yourself first.

However, if it's not possible and you need to escalate the issue, before doing so, inform the customer why and to whom they will be transferred and if they are OK waiting on hold for some time.

Here is an example:

Jerry, I am going to connect you with Steve who's on our logistics team. He will be able to help you with this question. Would you be OK waiting for a few moments while I am connecting you with him?”

Jerry, let me transfer you to the marketing department. Steve will be able to answer your question. I'm going to put you on hold for a couple of minutes while I am connecting you. Would you be ok with that?

Make sure also to notify the person to whom you are transferring the chat, give them the customer's name and explain the nature of the issue, before you actually connect them and the customer for a chat.

Putting the customer on hold

If you need some time to investigate the problem, ask the customer's permission to put them on hold.

Would you mind holding for a few minutes? I am going to check this with our administrator and be back with you right away.

May I put you on hold for a moment? I would need to check the details of your order.

If they are OK waiting, thank them and when you are you back with an answer, thank them again for waiting.

Thank you for waiting/holding. I have the details of your latest payment, let me send it over to you.

If you see the problem is difficult and is going to take more time to resolve, ask the customer whether they would like you to call or email them back rather than waiting on hold.

Jan, I would need to put you on hold for a few minutes to run a few tests and see if I can reproduce the problem. Would that be ok with you or would you prefer me calling/emailing you back?

If the waiting time has become longer than you expected, make sure to apologize to the customer.

I'm sorry to have kept you waiting for so long, Jen. I have managed to reproduce the problem. Here's what needs to be done to fix it.

Apologizing if you made a mistake

If you made a mistake, own it. If you try to hide it or just don't admit it, it may create further confusion in your communication with the customer.

Here's how you can do it:

Rob, I'm sorry, I made a mistake and gave you the wrong price for this item. The correct price is...

If someone else on the team made a mistake, not you personally, say that it was "our" fault, attributing it to the company rather than to the individual person who is not present in this chat.

John, I'm sorry, we made a mistake and sent the invoice to the wrong email address, which is why you did not receive it. We are going to resend it now to the correct address and add a few free days to your subscription to make it up to you.

One of the hardest - saying "No!" to the customer

Saying a blank "No" to the customer may sound quite rude. What you can do instead is to add two positive statements on either side of your "No".

For example, if the customer asks to be connected with a team member who is not available for a chat, you can say:

I'm sorry, Jim, Joan is not available for a chat right now. Please let me know what I can do for you and I will be very happy to help.

First, you express empathy that the customer's request cannot be met at this time - you say, "I'm sorry". Then you make a negative statement – "Joan is not available". After that you complete your response with another positive statement, an offer of help – "Please let me know what I can do for you."

You can apply this technique to dealing with more complicated situations.

Here are a few extra examples.

I'm sorry, we cannot further lower the price for this item. However, we have a similar product at a cheaper price. This other item lacks a few features compared to the first product, hence the price for it is lower. Would you be interested to take a look at it?

I'm sorry, we don't have this feature at the moment. We plan to add it to our service in the future and we can notify you when it becomes available. Would you like to receive an email update on it?

Following up with the customer

If you promised the customer to call or email them back, it would be polite to check-in with them within the next 24 hours. Even if you would not have an answer to their question by that time, you would still let them know you are working on it and they are not forgotten.

Rob, I just wanted to let you know that we are still investigating the issue. We don't have a solution yet. I will email you as soon as we have found what causes the problem.

Jerry, we haven't been able to complete the transition of your account yet, due to a small database issue on our server. We are working to fix it now and, hopefully, we will have everything ready for you by tomorrow. We will keep you posted.

If you missed to answer an incoming chat in time and have the customer's email, get back with them right away.

Hi Tom! I'm sorry we have missed your chat. Please let us know your question, we will be happy to help.

Oh my God, how do I deal with those angry customers!

You can start with showing your sincere sympathy and understanding of the customer's problem. Try to acknowledge the their feelings.

Daniella, I am really sorry this happened! Let me see if I can find a solution for you.

I'm very sorry you've had such an experience with our product. I totally understand your feelings. Let me see what we can do for you to make it better.

I'm really sorry you encountered this issue. Let me see if there is anything we can do to help the situation.

Express your willingness to help, commit to finding a solution to the problem or make an offer which will make the customer feel better.

I'm sorry you are not happy with our product/with your purchase. Let's see what we can do for you to make things right.

I'm sorry you didn't receive your purchase on time! Let me check the information and see what we can do to make it up to you.

I'm very sorry about this issue! I understand your frustration, and I will do my best to help you.

Say what you mean and mean what you say - delivering on a promise

You may encounter situations when a customer was promised something which could not be fulfilled due to some error or misinformation.

Instead of the blunt, "We could not have promised anything like that", reassure the customer that you will verify the information first. Then, if it's clear they were promised something by mistake, offer them apologies and see if you can offer them something to make it up for the mistake.

Let me put you on hold for just a few moments and verify this information.

If I understand you correctly, you were promised… It appears there was a mistake. Please accept our sincere apologies for giving you the wrong information! Please let us know if there is anything we can do to make it up to you.

A juggling act - managing several chats at the same time

When you are dealing with several customers at the same time, try not to give them the impression that you are in a rush and don't leave them in silence for too long either.

You can win the extra time for yourself by telling the customer that you are going to check the information for them and asking them to hold on for a few moments.

The customers are less concerned with the slower responses or minor delays, but more with the lack of your attention to their issue. It is OK to make them waiting if you first ask their permission for it.

Jerry, let me review your transaction history. Please bear with me for a few more minutes.

If your responses are delayed and the customer enquires about it, don't tell them you are dealing with someone else, it would be rude. You should always try and create the impression that you are giving your full attention to their problem. So you can attribute the delay to the need to check more information or a technical issue.

I'm sorry for the delay on my part. I am pulling up your account details. Please allow me another minute. I'll be back with you right away.

Hanging up on the customer, yes!

Didn't know you could do that? Absolutely!

It is important to treat all chatters with respect, even if they are not your existing or potential customers.

The reason is, if someone feels they were treated wrong by you, they can leave negative feedback and comment on social media and you will need to go the extra mile to prove yourself right.

So it is better to give a clear and polite answer to those who reached the wrong chat.

I'm sorry, you have reached the wrong company. This is..., we are not affiliated with...

Or, here's how we answer at Provide Support:

"Hi! Sorry, you have reached the wrong chat line. We are a software company We offer live chat software for websites, but we don't provide support for our clients' websites. Please check that you have clicked the chat link for the company from which you wanted to receive support. Thank you!

If they apologize, reassure them everything is OK and end the chat.

No problem. Thank you for your call. Have a good day.

If they insist that you should help them despite your answer, don't let yourself be manipulated and your time wasted. Answer them politely why you would not be able to help them and, well, hang up on them!

I'm sorry, we would not be the right company to help you with your question. We don't deal in... We appreciate your contact. Have a good day.

"Bye bye" template

Ending a live chat, ask the customer if you can be of any further assistance.

Sarah, is there anything else I can help you with today?

John, is there anything else I can do for you? Just to confirm, I have sent a request to our billing regarding your payment. I will follow up with you on that as soon as I get an answer from my colleagues.

Thank the customer for reaching out, invite them to chat again if they have more questions. Then, end the chat with a clear "good bye" to let the customer know you will close the chat.

Thank you for reaching out today, John! If you have any other questions or need help, please feel free to contact us. Good bye.

Thank you for chatting with us today! If you need any other help, please feel free to ask. Have a nice day! Bye bye.

Who should hang up first? Usually, it is better to let the customer hang up first. If they don't close the chat room right away, give it one minute after your final message and then close the chat room yourself.

So that's our take on the basic structure of a typical live chat and the most common situations you may encounter.

Can you think of more situations, perhaps something you personally have been struggling with and was not sure how to answer correctly? Do let us know and we will be happy to extend this short guide for everyone to benefit from it.

We hope you, guys, enjoyed this quick live chat cheat sheet and will be able to apply it in your work!

Let us just quickly say that we at Provide Support work really hard to create one of the best and most convenient live chat tools that you can use to engage with your website visitors. Many diverse features are already in place and we are constantly evolving based on your feedback.

Do check us out, recommend us to your company or friends and engage with us in chat or on social media. We will be happy to hear from you!

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