The recent launch of live chat for OfficeSuite UC® Contact Center Services (CCS) was a welcomed announcement for many small to medium-sized contact centers looking to scale and reach more customers with the same resources. And why not? This technology allows businesses to help website visitors get over the final hurdle in a purchase decision, resolve customer service issues efficiently, and most importantly, portray a professional, larger-scale image to their audience.
Chat technology is just a tool. Much like a hammer that only produces results when a skilled carpenter wields it, live chat only works when you have agents with the right skills to operate it. Which begs the question: Do yours have what it takes to masterfully manage chat queues?
Start with the basics
When you’re looking to populate your chat agent team, there’s a list of compulsory skills that simply can’t be overlooked. Before considering any agent for chat, be sure they’re more than adequate in these key areas.
Expert-level subject knowledge. Your agents are the face of your company. They must know your products and services inside and out to understand customer needs.
Professional communication skills. While this may seem like an easy requirement to fill, look past a basic grasp of language and aim for someone with razor-sharp grammar and punctuation skills, keen attention to spelling and the ability to communicate without using technical jargon, acronyms or emojis.
Skillful software program navigation. No matter what platform or software you’re using, a chat agent will need to be familiar with all the ins and outs, especially with the use of shortcuts and other helpful time-reduction tools.
Accurate typing. This is a must, especially in a fast-paced work environment like a customer response center. Whether inputting customer data, account numbers or notes, without accurate data, your ability to meet customer needs is greatly diminished.
A need for speed. Working fast while maintaining accuracy and focus is truly an acquired skill, so find someone who has mastered it. Why? The faster your customers get a resolution, the more satisfied they will be.
Consider soft skills
Beyond basic business skills, chat agents really must possess a myriad of soft skills that set them apart from other types of customer service representatives. Consider the following before you hire anyone for your team:
Ability to multitask. Given that the new live chat for OfficeSuite UC CCS allows agents to communicate with up to 6 customers at a time (7 if they are also answering voice calls), having the clarity of mind to keep things straight is paramount and requires some serious time management chops.
Patience is a virtue. There’s no denying that it takes a special kind of person to work in a public-facing, fast-paced environment where helping people is the goal. That’s why patience to get to the bottom of inquiries, empathy to feel things from a customer perspective, and using the proper tone of voice (without using their voice!) are very important. Sarcasm, foul language or perceived disrespect are service-killers, and when dealing with irate customers, they can sometimes slip through.
Attentiveness. The highest-rated skill for chat agents is the ability to make your customers feel seen and heard. And that starts (and ends) with clear, timely communication. In fact, there’s a tendency for customer satisfaction to increase as more messages are exchanged between an agent and customer during the chat conversation. That leads us to believe that customers truly prefer to talk to agents who take the time to ask more questions, thus getting to the heart of their inquiry (and a solution) faster.
Master chat with the right team
If your organization recently implemented a chat-based element to your contact center, take heed of who you hire to be the virtual voice of your company. When you understand the unique skills needed for success in a live chat role, you can focus on hiring agents who excel in those key areas.