15 Live Chat Etiquette Rules For Exceptional Customer Service

Last Updated: August 27, 2021

You want to offer exceptional customer service. You know that a good customer experience leads to benefits for your business like a loyal customer base, customers who are willing to pay a premium for your products, and customers who leave great reviews. And if you’re offering, or thinking of offering live chat customer support, you’re probably already aware of the benefits such as increased sales, high customer satisfaction, and reduced customer support costs.

But what happens when you don’t offer good customer service? Like this example, where the customer service agent addressed his male customer during the chat session as “ma’am” and didn’t have a basic understanding of the problem? Or this example where the customer had to wait 20 minutes before being connected to an agent and received a canned response that didn’t resolve her issue?

Bad customer service can lead to frustrated and dissatisfied customers, a negative reputation for your business, and lots of lost customers. In the examples above, these live chat agents simply didn’t observe some of the general rules of live chat etiquette, or even general customer service etiquette.

What is Chat Etiquette?

Chat etiquette defines the guidelines a chat agent should follow while interacting with customers on chat. Customers these days increasingly use chat for support. Using colloquial language or providing mediocre chat support can give a bad outlook on your brand. Following chat etiquette helps you provide great chat support and forge a positive brand impression. 

What are the Basic Rules of Chat Interactions?

If you want to avoid ending up like the examples mentioned above, make sure you follow these 15 live chat etiquette tips for your support team.

Rule 1: Don’t Keep Your Customer Waiting

When it comes to live chat, the faster your agent’s response time, the better. Research has shown that over half of all customers become irritated if they don’t talk to a live person right away while 45% of customers will abandon a purchase if they don’t receive an answer from customer support right away! You should consider having your live chat agents automatically accept live chat requests to allow customers speedy access to the information they’re looking for.

Rule 2: Good Grammar, Spelling, and Use Of Language

Ensure that your live chat agents have exceptional grammar and spelling skills in whatever language they’re offering the support in. A customer support agent with bad grammar or spelling will indicate to your customer that you don’t value them and will make your entire business seem unprofessional. Provide tools like infographics with common grammar mistakes to avoid or a dictionary widget for their internet browser. Also, your live chat agent should not use social media slang (such as “lol” or “brb”), shorthand, or type in all caps (which may indicate that the agent is shouting). Also, jargon or technical terms should be kept to a bare minimum to prevent the customer from becoming confused. Follow these tips to make the chats error-free:

  • Proofread the chat before hitting send.
  • Make communication skills important in the hiring process.
  • Buy a grammar tool such as Grammarly or ProWritingAid.
  • Don’t handle too many chats at a time, it can cause slip-ups.

Rule 3: Provide a Proper Introduction

A bit of familiarity goes a long way in creating an emotional connection between your customer support staff and your customer. By introducing themselves, your agent will put a personal touch on the interaction that will allow the customer to feel more comfortable in exchanging information with your customer support team. Some examples are:

  • Welcome to [Product Name]! How can I help you?
  • Hello there! Need any assistance with login?
  • Do you have any questions? We are here to help.

Rule 4: Be Friendly and Cheerful

Being friendly and cheerful can mean the difference between a cold, boring interaction and an enjoyable one. Your customer support agent should be empowered to use a friendly, personable tone when engaging with customers. In fact, one report found that almost 75% of all customers expect their customer service agent to be friendly, meaning that customer service friendliness was expected more than receiving the help that customers need, demonstrating the importance of being friendly. Use these tips to hold a friendly conversation:

  • Use emojis as needed.
  • Address the customer by name. If you don’t know the name, use generic, gender-neutral greetings.
  • Strike a conversation – Not “Where do you live?” conversation but “Did you watch the Super Bowl?” conversation.
  • Sound friendly and outgoing, but know when to switch back.

Rule 5: Always Be Honest

Your customer should never be lied to or deceived. In a situation where a customer’s demands cannot be immediately met or there is bad news, your live chat agent should be honest with your customer while seeking the next best alternative. If your live chat agent makes a promise, they should make sure to deliver on that promise. Most importantly, don’t be bluntly honest. Be gracefully honest. Digital conversations are by nature more intricate than face-to-face conversations. A little extra effort to polish your words goes a long way. Look at these examples:

X Our company policy doesn’t allow this.

I regret to say that the company policy doesn’t include this. Can you tell me more so that I can suggest the closest alternative?

The first message dismisses and alienates the customer while the second sounds inclusive and empathetic.

Rule 6: Keep The Chat Positive

Your live chat agent should always endeavor to frame the conversation in a positive manner. In the event that there is negative news, your agent should place that news at the beginning of the interaction while “saving” the positive news for the end, as this has been shown to have a positive effect on customer enjoyment. One useful tip to keep the chat positive is to talk in the affirmative regardless of the information conveyed.

X Sorry, the item is not in stock. Check back in 2 weeks.

The item will be back in stock in 2 weeks. I will let you know when it does.

Rule 7: Stay On Topic

While it’s important to be friendly, it’s even more important to never lose sight of the goal of solving the customer’s problem. Resist the urge to engage in a discussion that isn’t related to that problem. Even if the customer would like to go off track, your customer support agent should steer the conversation back to the issue at hand in a polite manner in order to maintain efficiency.

Rule 8: Be Caring and Empathetic

Sometimes your support team will encounter angry or frustrated customers. Instead of trying to argue with them, your customer service team should work hard to diffuse the situation. They should apologize for any inconvenience caused and be willing to spend a reasonable time to allow the customer to cool down. Your agent needs to be willing to empathize with your customers, let them know that they’re on the customer’s side and that their feelings of frustration are understandable.

Rule 9: Check In

It is quite common for customers engaged in live chat service to take pauses. They could be on a bathroom break or answering an urgent phone call. Whatever the reason, it is important that you do not end the live chat conversation immediately after getting no response. You will want to give your customers 2-3 chances to respond while they’re off, with each chance being at least a couple of minutes before you end the chat.

Rule 10: Keep it Simple

Agents may commonly assume that the customer is knowledgeable about certain things. It may not be true. Customers may not be familiar with the technical jargon you use day in and day out. When troubleshooting or explaining an issue, keep it simple and understandable. Always start with the basics. If the customer insists on getting technical or seems knowledgeable on the particular matter, get technical. Follow these tips to simplify your chat messages:

  • Keep the messages short.
  • Avoid long sentences. Break it into short messages.
  • Use only simple jargon and abbreviations.
  • Frequently ask if they can follow.

Rule 11: Use Canned Responses Mindfully

No customer says no to fast responses. Canned responses help chat agents reply quickly and appropriately to frequently asked questions. But robotic, impersonal replies are a customer’s biggest pet peeve. Take time to draft personalized canned responses that the customers can actually benefit from. Some examples of canned responses are:

  • Do you have any other questions?
  • We are currently working on your issue. We will get back to you as soon as possible.
  • Thanks for your feedback! Your opinions are valuable to us.

Rule 12: Chat as You Talk

The major do’s and don’ts of chat etiquette? Don’t chat too formally. Chat as you talk. If you sound too formal, you will come off as robotic whereas if you sound too colloquial, you will come off as unprofessional. Strike a balance, and take a tone that the customer can resonate with. 

  • Include contractions like “You’re” and “I’m”.
  • Using personal pronouns such as “You” and “I” is key.
  • Don’t use internet slang like “Lol” or “Btw” unless the customer uses it.
  • Use the customer’s name as often as appropriate.

Basically, mirror the customer (except when the customer is frustrated).  

Rule 13: Handle Humor with Care

Humor is an interesting case of chat support that is difficult to offer on any other support channel like chatbots. You can use humor to warm up the conversation and understand the mental state of the customer. However, you should handle humor with utmost care. Humor has its place, and it can backfire when used out of place. Handle humor with care, but avoid sarcasm at all costs.

Rule 14: Be Proactive but Not Intrusive

A massive advantage of live chat is the ability to provide proactive support. You can chat in real-time with a website visitor or a potential customer with a single click. You can help them speed up the buying decision. But how many times have you felt frustrated by an unwarranted pop-up ad or a text? Your customers probably feel the same, too. Step in only at the appropriate moment, and ask the customer for feedback at the end of the chat. Based on the feedback, you can fine-tune your future proactive efforts.

Rule 15: End On a High Note

Don’t end a chat session as soon as you think you’ve solved the issue. Your agents need to have a chat ending protocol to ensure customer satisfaction that should include:

  • Thanking the customer for the time taken to discuss their issue.
  • Asking the customer whether their issue has been resolved and if they have anything else that they need assistance with.
  • Wishing them a good day and telling them goodbye.

These simple tips will help you turn a transactional customer relationship into a meaningful one pretty quickly.  

Step Up the Live Chat Support

By training your live chat support team to follow these 15 easy rules of chat etiquette, there is no reason why your team would be unable to provide exceptional customer service. And with a solution like HappyFox Chat to aid them in providing instant responses to resolve issues or finalize sales quickly, you can expect great results coming your way. Improve your live chat experience with HappyFox Chat which offers unlimited agents on all pricing plans!

Of course, these 15 are not the only rules of chat etiquette that your live chat support team should follow. Have you got a rule of your own? Let us know what it is in the comments section below.