7 Chat Etiquette Tips for Best-in-Class Customer Service

Instantaneous, chat-based channels are poised to grow in popularity. Kustomer researchdiscovered that CX professionals believe live chat (79%), social media (72%) and SMS (56%) will become more popular in the next three years while legacy channels like voice will stay the same. Messaging channels are therefore expected to become increasingly essential in solving customer issues on-demand to meet customers where they’re already communicating with family and friends. 

CX teams then must also have the proper protocols in place to ensure agents are able to delight customers, create lasting relationships, and drive loyalty in a way that elevates chat above support experiences on legacy channels. One way to ensure your agents are able to do this is to establish a framework for chat etiquette. Chat etiquette is essential for successful chat support, whether it’s happening via live chat on your website, SMS or social media.

In this blog, we’ll take a look at what chat etiquette is, why it’s important, and share our chat etiquette tips for developing best-in-class customer service.

What Is Chat Etiquette?

Chat etiquette can be thought of as a set of rules that maintain the positive tone of online conversations and resolve support issues in a professional manner. It is integral for support  agents to ensure a satisfactory experience through chat-based channels.

It refers to how human agents should navigate conversations with customers in regard to elements like using correct grammar, setting expectations, being empathetic and responding quickly. Of course, each organization is unique and the guidance within this blog should serve as a launchpad for you to develop a chat etiquette framework further tailored to your own business needs.

Why Is Chat Etiquette Important for CX?

According to our research, 72% of consumers expect their problems to be solved instantly upon contacting customer service. The instantaneous nature of chat-based channels provide a direct opportunity for brands to do just that. When it comes to building customer loyalty, every interaction matters and chat etiquette is an essential part of building relationships with customers that yield brand advocacy and reduce churn.

Chat allows CX teams to be both more efficient and effective since agents can multitask and handle multiple inquiries simultaneously. However, communicating with customers via chat is very different from communicating through voice conversations as vocal cues, inflection and conversational cadence are not present.

Those differences can create obstacles that your organization’s CX leadership should plan ahead for by providing chat etiquette protocols that can aid support agents in navigating these conversations. Chat etiquette makes support interactions run more proficiently, reducing friction points between agents and customers. For chat-based conversations, a streamlined exchange of information between agent and customer is imperative.

Clearly defining a chat etiquette framework can help ensure your customer service team is communicating in a way that leaves a great impression. Here are our seven tips for leveraging chat etiquette to deliver best-in-class customer service.

7 Chat Etiquette Tips for Best-in-Class Customer Service

1. Respond Quickly

Speed is the name of the game. As mentioned above, customers now expect fast responses and quick service continues to outrank all other customer service qualities in terms of importance. The faster your agents can respond, the better.

Customers can grow impatient if they are not able to connect with an agent quickly. In fact, 57% of consumers said they’d completely abandon their cart if their questions weren’t answered quickly enough. The good news is that technology and automation can help you determine where you can shorten the process, reduce handoffs within the team, and get those response times down so that your customers leave feeling happy.

Chatbots can automatically greet your customers and perform the low-level information gathering tasks before handing off to a live human agent to solve more nuanced questions.

2. Use Proper Grammar & Spelling

Agents should maintain excellent use of grammar, spelling and punctuation in support conversations. Bad grammar can be detrimental to your brand as it has the potential to damage your brand’s credibility. Research indicates bad grammar could even deter 59% of consumers from making a purchase. 

In order to avoid scaring off potential customers with spelling or grammar errors, encourage agents to always proofread their correspondence. One way to help cut down mistakes could be making grammar check software or widgets available to your support agents.

Beyond adhering to grammar and spelling norms, agents should avoid slang (things like “lol”, “btw” or “idk”) in order to maintain credibility. Also, while your agents might know all the ins and outs of your business, they should avoid using internal jargon in order to prevent customers from becoming confused.

3. Leverage Canned Responses

Having an internal knowledge base with canned responses can help your agents respond more quickly and in a manner that reduces the probability of typos. They can also assist in ensuring customer service agents adhere to your brand voice. These should be replies that anticipate easily predictable inquiries.

However, be warned of making these too impersonal. Encourage your customer service agents to personalize canned responses when possible so that customers aren’t left feeling cold. Types of canned responses can include:

  • Greetings: “Hello there! My name is [employee name populated]. How may I help you today?”
  • First response: “Awesome, I am really glad to hear that! How may I help you today?”
  • Delivery response: “I will be happy to help you with this. Also, did you know that you can monitor your order and tracking at [tracking link populated].”
  • Need-a-little-more-time response: “That is a good question, let me find out for you.”
  • Ending the chat: “Should you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us at any time. Thank you for chatting with us and have a great day. Goodbye!”

4. Maintain a Positive Outlook

It’s important that support agents are able to maintain a positive outlook with customers. In fact, using positive language can make your messages 20% more credible. As mentioned earlier, the lack of vocal cues, inflection and conversational cadence can complicate chat interactions. That’s why it’s important to use positive words and phrases to help reinforce a positive experience for your customers.

Customer service agents should always frame conversations in a positive manner, even when there might be unfortunate news to share. In the event that there is negative news to share, place it at the beginning of the statement while keeping the positive information for later. Consider the examples below addressing the situation of an item being out of stock:

  • Framing in a negative manner: Apologies, the product you’ve requested is no longer available. Check back again later.
  • Framing in a positive manner: The product will be back on our webstore in two to three days. We can notify you once it’s available again!

5. Be Proactive 

The best support experience is one that handles problems before they become problems: proactive support. Incorporating proactivity to your chat etiquette framework can unlock business growth and upsell opportunities. For example, a brand that specializes in food delivery could send a proactive message to a customer about a few of their favorite restaurants, alerting them of new menu options to try.

With the right CRM in place, this kind of chat interaction can be both completely personalized and completely automated. To be smart, personal, proactive and timely requires a lot of moving parts to come together, but doing so is the hallmark of a modern, standout customer experience.

Being proactive isn’t just about the technology, it also requires an equal amount of human insight. Before investing in tools, make sure you have a team of engaged customer service agents that are already thinking about your customers’ needs. Once you’re able to identify customers by their last order, their location or their sentiment, then surprising and delighting them with proactive chat interactions is a breeze.

6. Be Human

It is not uncommon for agents to encounter angry or frustrated customers. It’s an important part of chat etiquette that your agents are able to be human and empathize with your customers by letting them know their feelings of frustration are valid. Agents should acknowledge the customer’s feelings with something as simple as, “I’m sorry you’re dealing with this situation.”

Furthermore, chatbots and canned responses are increasingly popular to help support teams scale their efforts, however, it’s important to let customers know there is a real human agent on the other side of the chat when it comes to situations that require a bit more nuance. Lacking a “human touch” can have a negative impact if customers are highly emotional or frustrated.

To avoid coming off too robotic, consider including chat profiles for your agents that include their name, location or even headshot. Encourage agents to personalize canned responses when possible to add a bit more of a human touch. Additionally, using intelligent routing to repeatedly pair agents with customers can help develop a personalized human connection.

7. End Properly & Collect Feedback 

Just like responding quickly is integral to kicking off a chat-based support interaction, there is also a proper way to end a chat with a customer. Agents should first ensure their complaint or issue is fully addressed. Once getting the all clear from the customer, it is then proper protocol to ask if they have any lingering questions before signing off.

Agents should make sure to wish customers a good day or have a similarly friendly closing remark in order to adhere to best-in-class chat etiquette. Once the support conversation is over, send a customer satisfaction (CSAT) survey right away to get a rating on the service quality. 

Doing so will allow your team to evaluate the efficacy of the support given and determine any areas that need improvement.

Refine Your Customer Service Chat Etiquette to Stand Out Among the Competition

There are many important elements necessary for a successful modern CX strategy and implementing a chat etiquette framework is just one of them. The brands that stand out in the future are going to be the ones who treat customers like people, not tickets, using a more conversational approach to their interactions. With conversations becoming more important, maintaining proper chat etiquette will be crucial for brands to differentiate themselves from the competition.