Imagine you are the customer service representative working the live chat support the day of the company holiday party. It’s pretty quiet in the office, but you get an incoming chat that says HAPPY HOLIDAYS! You think “wow…so kind”, but then you notice no reply and eventually it ends. Immediately afterwards, you get another, and then another. Some chats have the phrase of Happy Holidays, while others are silent. Your team realizes something must be up when you all notice 100+ chats in the queue.
Receiving 100 chat support requests at once is overwhelming, but the fact is that companies all over the world are dealing with an influx of chat support requests. In fact, a 7 survey of more than 1,000 consumers aged 18-34 found that more than 37% of participants selected chat as their preferred method to contact companies. Chat has overtaken phone and email as the top customer service channel, so it’s not going away any time soon.
As the customer service representative, what survival tactics do you use in the situation above?
Treat every chat as if it is a brand new customer
This sounds easy. Yet when you have that many chats in a queue, it can be tempting to assume they are spam and end each one. The problem is that you never know who is on the other end of that chat until you talk with them. No matter how stressful the moment may be, the most important goal is to provide the best experience to every potential customer. This strategy is one of the key elements in the star model of customer service excellence, which is covered in depth in our Customer Service Essentials Course. You may have already answered 50 chats, but this may be customer’s first time writing in so you want to make it an efficient and positive experience.
One way to handle an influx of customer service chats is to create templates. This will help you to treat every chat as a new customer. Our team started a word document of frequently asked questions and replies. The most used of these is probably the greeting and closing. Our introduction is “Hello, this is Nicole from Customer Service. How may I assist you today?” Imagine having to type that out 100 times in a row. Having a document to copy and paste these phrases, saves time and stress by limiting potential spelling and grammatical mistakes. This will also help with keeping answers consistent between customer service representatives.
Not only do templates help you to assist the customer, but it helps the customer to have a positive experience. For example, you can spend more time on the chat finding the right answers to questions rather than spending time replying. The template will provide a nice starting point for answers, although you may need to tailor your answer to the client’s need.
Speaking of limiting mistakes, let’s be real, handling multiple chats can get confusing. Some may call me old fashioned, however I prefer to keep a notepad at my desk. Good note taking can prove to be beneficial when your call/chat volume is high. In the scenario above, if you get a customer on the line you need to handle their requests in a timely and proficient manner. If you are handling multiple chats at once, mistakes can easily be made. Writing down the name, contact info, and summary of the chat will be useful if you need to refer back to double check something.
Sounds like a no brainer, right? It might be easy to lose your patience knowing you have a never ending flow of chat after chat waiting for you. Take a breath. Some people have stress balls, on our team we have glitter jars, whatever your outlet may be, use it. This will not only help with creating a positive work environment, but also help with creating a positive customer experience. Remember to smile when you move on the next customer. That may sound corny but that smile does carry through to your communication– the customer will sense it even though they cannot see it.
Back to the scenario when the chat queue was overloaded…
You have applied all these practices into your chats and successfully gone through the chat queue. You managed to sift through the real customers and what seemed to be a weird spam.
Your coworker, who happens to be at the holiday party messages you privately “HAPPY HOLIDAYS!” The COO thought it would be a hoot to ask everyone to google the company website, go to the customer service chat, and send a message of “Happy Holidays” just to see what would happen.
Luckily, nothing bad happened because the team was prepared. It was a Christmas miracle and became known as the day “the COO asked everyone to blow up the customer service chat support.”