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Which Live Chat Customer Service Style: Casual or Formal?

Live chat agents typically play several different roles and utilize many customer service styles to help web users find what they’re looking for.

There are live chat sales agents whose goal is to convert visitors into paying clients. There are support agents, who help visitors find the information or specific content being searched for, and there are chat agents whose main goal is to play a support role and give users a place to turn when they have questions or concerns.

Each of these customer service styles is effective in its own unique way. If you are looking to install live chat software, or already have – and want to maximize your return on investment, it's important that your live chat agents play the customer service role that best fits the needs of your business. The question is, which customer service style is right for you?

Online Customer Service Roles

Customer service representatives and live chat agents have an important role in handling customer complaints, as well as sometimes selling products or services to customers.

The very first thing to establish when applying live chat software to your marketing plan is the style and role of your live chat reps. If your live chat agents could only do one single thing, what would it be?

Communicating the importance of this main purpose to your chat agents may drive surprising results in conversion rate and overall user satisfaction.

Here are a few different working styles of customer service that apply to online customer service, just the same as they would for a brick-and-mortar retail environment:

Driven

Driven live chat customer service representatives concern themselves with the bottom line before all else. Their main purpose is to make the sale. This is not to say they aren’t helpful or informative, they just have an overarching goal in mind. This customer service role is effective for eCommerce stores who need to sell things to keep the virtual doors open.

Think about an environment such as Amazon, or an online retailer similar in fashion.  When users go to Amazon, they usually have a specific product in mind they are looking to purchase, a live chat agent would do well to greet the customer, ask which product they are looking for, and provide them with a link or point them in the right direction.

Analytical

For many live chat agents and customer service staff being analytical and methodical is a must when engaging with users. Knowing the facts of what users are searching for and anticipating their needs will help expedite solutions in a more personalized manner.

Let’s say the user is a prospective college student browsing several university sites, an analytical customer service representative would figure out exactly what that prospective student's highest priority is. For example, tuition and financial aid information, and link them to a page where all the information about financial aid and resources is available.  The goal here isn’t necessarily to make a sale but to determine the reason for a visit and help the user fulfill that reason. Additionally, another scenario would be if the university offers a co-op program, they would link the college student to the website page that explains all the ways students can build job skills while studying.

Expressive

Expressive customer service representatives like to have fun and add personality to a business's website.

Let's stick with the scenario of a prospective college student seeking more information on tuition and financial aid information. This live chat customer service representative would converse back and forth with the student about the dining hall, they may even sprinkle in a story or two about a dining hall experience they had back in their college days. This live chat style can be effective if the user is fine with sacrificing some efficiency for added personality.

Friendly

Friendly customer service representatives put feelings before all else. In a live chat setting they would be likely to handle product complaints or returns.  Acting patiently and allowing the user to express frustrations, all the while finding a solution to the problem is the style of a friendly, cordial representative.

Casual Online Customer Service

Casual online chat representatives fall into the “expressive”, “friendly”, and at times “analytical” customer service styles. They still post results, but results aren’t their top priority. This customer service role is effective in scenarios where the user's primary objective is information gathering, browsing, or dealing with customer frustrations.

Schools or service-based industries will benefit from this form of live chat. Especially if the service-based company develops products that require large amounts of research (think software).

Professional Customer Service

Professional minded customer service representatives take on an “analytical,” “driven,” customer service role. In some cases, “friendly” when dealing with returns and customer frustrations.

They are still friendly and helpful, but the primary goal is to help the user navigate to a specific product, service, or a page containing the exact information a user is searching for.

A professional service style is more suited for an eCommerce environment. Occasionally users will have a question about a product feature or service offering, but these users are lower into the sales funnel than those gathering information to make a purchasing decision.

How do I choose which style is best for my company?

Neither style, professional or casual, is right or wrong.  Both have their places, and both can produce numerous benefits for your business. The most important thing to remember is that your live chat representatives are aware of their purpose and put that before all else.

If driving sales is the top priority such as in eCommerce environments, choose a professional customer service style.

Businesses that must inform their users in greater detail, (colleges, software vendors) will have better results with a more casual and analytical customer service style.

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