The proper use of online chat software is essential to maximize the customer experience you aspire to provide on your website and contribute to your overall communication strategy. 

On one hand, an online chat functionality creates a positive impact on the relationship you maintain with customers. Indeed, the service that you offer via chat is an integral part of your brand image and must reflect the vision and values of the customer service conveyed by your organization.

A negative encounter with your website’s chat tool can break the bond of trust and even affect your organization’s reputation. 

On the other hand, the integration and maintenance of such a tool requires time, energy and discipline from your team. You may as well be sure of its relevance and performance!

Here are some simple tips when considering to integrate this communication tool into your strategy.


Involve all departments  

An online chat is a gateway to your organization. The questions that get asked may concern several departments. Before integrating this feature onto your website, it is important to understand the customer journey and experience across the different areas of the organization involved such as sales, marketing or customer service. 

This is an opportunity to involve the entire team in identifying potential topics to be addressed by the chat and the best course of action at each stage of the customer journey.


Identify boundaries 

It is quite possible that you don’t have enough staff to manage the website chat 24/7! It’s therefore essential to identify some limits to ensure proper management of this new communication tool while remaining transparent and authentic with customers. 


Select operating hours 

Pre-determine the hours your team will be available to answer questions. You can then post them on your site so that your customers know when a response will be provided.


Target the pages that generate the most traffic and on which you want the chat to be offered. 

There is no need to offer an online chat functionality on every page of your website. In order to maximize your efficiency and direct potential questions, only select a few pages. For example, a university could strictly target the pages of its academic programs. This allows the team to provide personalized service for each program.


Automate some of the questions 

The same questions may come up repeatedly. Without falling into complete automation, you can identify some simple questions to be answered automatically. Let’s take the university example. The type of questions with automation potential could be the following:   

  • What are the application deadlines for this program?
  • How do I apply?
  • How much does it cost? 


Let your employees focus on one communication channel at a time 

The number of requests that come from a real-time chat can be overwhelming. Imagine if we add the management of a phone line and social media! To maintain the well-being and motivation of your employees, they should monitor one communication channel at a time. 


Consider the negativity factor 

During a chat session, we tend to interpret ambiguous information as negative, especially since the absence of non-verbal communication accentuates the risk of misunderstandings. 

According to the Practical Guide to Cognitive Biases, negativity bias is a shortcut in thinking that makes you more affected by negative information than positive information. For example, the simple idea of suffering an economic loss is more frightening than the reassurance of a monetary gain. 

Let’s think about some stereotypical and irrational chat impulses: 

  • A person who writes a message in capital letters is screaming.
  • A person who sees a message without responding finds it uninteresting. 
  • A person who takes a long time to respond has a delicate message to communicate.

Understanding the potential negativity bias in an online chat session is key to avoiding it. 


Create a netiquette 

A netiquette is a guide that contains all the rules surrounding good “manners” and good practices when using the Internet. Creating one for the use of the online chat allows your employees to be aware of the importance of good communication practices to avoid the pitfalls of negativity bias. Here are a few examples: 

  • Ensure that the employee’s name and (if possible) picture are visible in the chat window.
  • Identify the desirable response time and buffer messages to save time while maintaining contact with the customer. 
  • Determine the steps to take if the employee cannot answer the question.

The chat is a transmission belt between your organization and your customers. Knowing how to tame and master it will contribute to your success. Want to improve your customer experience strategy? Contact us to discuss it!

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