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20 Essential Skills of an Effective Live Chat Operator

Working with a live chat operator team means you need to provide a one-of-a-kind experience to your customers. But, how can you ensure that your agents are delivering that kind of service? How can you know whether they’re geared to take on varying scenarios? How can you tell whether they are the right candidate for the job?

People think live chat customer support is easy, but in truth, there are specific skills that are key to delivering excellent customer assistance even through live chat. Here, we will break down all the must-have skills that a live chat operator must possess to deliver the best customer experience possible.  

1. Communicative

Customer support is all about communication. An agent with the right communication expertise must have the capacity to establish a conversational interaction with their customers even when using a chat box to relay information. They must be capable of providing comprehensive, straight-to-the-point resolutions and guidelines to customers’ concerns to avoid repeat contact.

Also, not all customers are accustomed to techy jargon and acronyms that agents usually use to communicate with their colleagues. So, minimizing the use of these terms and switching it with a simpler vocabulary will make it easier for customers to understand the instructions and explanations that the agent tries to convey.

2. Great Listener

Aside from possessing unmatched communication skills, part of being an effective live chat operator is to have excellent listening skills, especially when addressing concerns in real-time.

Customers are different from one another. Some can express their concerns clearly and concisely, while some are the complete opposite. Regardless of how a customer talks or communicates, it is the agent’s job to lend an open ear throughout the conversation.

If an agent is not an avid listener, there is a high probability that they might miss the important details of the customer’s concern. As a result, they might give ineffective resolutions that, instead of helping them solve the problem, will end up making matters even worse for the customer.

3. Empathetic

An effective live chat support agent must have the ability to be one with their customers, to put themselves into their client’s shoes. Empathy enables live chat operators to gauge how customers feel as they continue to interact with them. It is instrumental in understanding each concern and pinpointing the source of their problem. Consequently, a suitable form of assistance or solution is delivered by the operator.

4. Problem-Solving Skills

The main job of a chat support agent is to solve problems. But solving different issues from distinct people (well, sometimes from the same person as well) is easier said than done. To meet the demands and deliver the most ideal, reliable solutions to customers, an intricate problem-solving skill is required.

Problem-solving goes beyond seeking answers. It also entails assessing each concern individually, sometimes regardless of how closely similar it may be. There may be small yet extremely relevant details that make a huge difference in determining whether one solution will work for one or both customers.

5. Resourceful

If the conventional problem-solving skill is not a choice, then improvise!

Have you ever heard of the term duct tape technique?

It is an approach that tests a live chat agent’s resourcefulness along with their capacity to improvise when addressing specific customer issues.

The duct tape technique allows agents to work things out for the time being and come up with a temporary solution while the other team members are finding viable solutions to the problem at hand. One of the perks of using the said strategy is that it pushes agents to come up with unconventional ways to resolve a problem. It is an excellent way to lessen the stress and frustration of the customer.

On the other hand, conducting follow-ups is a must once a temporary solution has been given. Doing so prevents any setbacks or incongruencies that may occur. Also, temporary solutions are only there as a safety net before a more stable and appropriate answer is generated.

6. Creative

In addition to being resourceful, incorporating creativity into solving customer problems is a good way to foster a more fruitful interaction with customers.

A creative agent can always think outside-the-box to devise efficient solutions that other agents may have missed or never have thought of. Moreover, an inventive mindset easily transforms an irate customer into a happy one by (carefully) adding humor into the conversation and making the workflow run smoothly.

7. Positive Attitude

Having a positive attitude towards customer interaction goes a long way. First, it promotes a fruitful communication between agents and customers. A positive perspective at work will also influence an entire working day. It enables them to realign their perspectives and find opportunities where others cannot. It allows them to clear their mind more easily and see both the bigger picture and the more intricate information coupled with each problem presented. Conversely, agents showing negativity while engaging with customers can cause a cascade of negative vibes throughout the call or chat. It might even lead to misunderstandings and an exchange of insults, something that any business, live chat agent, or customer wouldn’t want to experience.

8. Time Management

Saying that customers are impatient may sound like an overstatement, but it’s true. That is why to be an effective live chat operator, effective time management when interacting with one customer and then regulating handling time for the following inquirers is paramount. This means that agents should aim to resolve a problem as quickly as possible.

Don’t get this wrong—being fast doesn’t mean rushing customers. Rather, it means having a presence of mind so that there is a consistent awareness of how long it takes to answer simple to complex queries. Providing timely responses allots opportunities to verify whether the customer still has additional concerns or queries before closing the conversation. This shows that the agent is not only quick in addressing their concerns but is also geared to take on subsequent tasks from the same customer.

9. Patience

In some instances, a customer can be very slow or usually gabbles when stating their concerns. Since they are not straightforward with their questions, it is a bit of a headache for agents to resolve their problems right away. Admit it, it doesn’t take much to keep your composure when a customer tends to drone on and on about matters that are unrelated to their dilemma. However, as a solution provider, patience is important more than anything else.

Regardless of the situation, an excellent live chat operator must have immense tolerance to provide a concise, step-by-step explanation and ensure that the customers get the solution they’re looking for.

10. Intuitive

Since live chat is a support service where only a chat box is used, it may be a challenge for agents to identify the emotions of customers. Sometimes, agents unintentionally say something that customers may find offensive since they are unable to see cues, facial expressions, or gestures to reflect what the other person is feeling. In that case, an agent must be intuitive and be able to predict and translate the customer’s tone even through text.

11. Level-Headed

Sometimes customers can be a little bit harsh when talking to a support representative. Even when using a chat box, you can feel how mad they are just by looking at the number of exclamation points and question marks they use at the end of their sentences. Otherwise, frustrated customers may reply in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS.

But a professional live chat operator doesn’t allow these factors to get under their skin, regardless of how rude or disrespectful a customer may be. Rather, they execute their duties with calmness and professionalism.

12. Multitasking Capabilities

Yet another must-have skill to become a reliable live chat operator is to have the ability to multitask.

A stark contrast to being a call center agent, taking on the role of a live chat agent requires you to handle multiple clients simultaneously. Remember, live chat is associated with an omnichannel approach, so it is a must for agents to possess excellent multitasking skills to handle multiple clients across several channels simultaneously. Multitasking limits the tendency to redirect or deflect inquiries.

13. Knowledgeable

If an agent is knowledgeable of the products and services offered by their company, it is easier to provide immediate resolutions to customers.

From a customer’s point of view, an agent is their go-to when they encounter problems or when they need clarification on a particular item or service. That is why having in-depth knowledge of the business’ products and services is a must to become a trusty live chat support operator.

14. Team-Oriented

As stated, being a live chat operator means working in an environment where open communication is highly revered. There are instances wherein handling sudden spikes in chat volumes takes a toll on one operator. Thankfully,work stress can be easily overcome when agents value the essence of teamwork.

Say, there’s a newly employed agent. The best way to get them acquainted with the workflow is to provide guidance and ensure that there is constant exchange of valuable info within the team. Tenured agents should take the lead and help their newer colleagues adapt to the work demands. Collaborating well with each other molds inexperienced agents into dependable experts in no time.

15. Adaptive

A reliable chat operator can adapt to any situation. Having the flexibility to shift from one simple and common problem to a more complicated customer concern equips live chat agents with the level of preparedness needed to be consistent in addressing each and every customer.

16. Diligent

The volume of customer inquiries is uncontrollable. There are times wherein the surge in messages is continuous while there are also instances where queues dramatically slow down.

A reliable and effective live chat operator must practice diligence. They should be proactive all the time especially when there are inconsistencies in the number of customer queues. Slacking off is not an option. Reduced chat logs is also not an excuse to diminish your quality of work. Maintaining excellent work ethic lays a foundation for a successful customer experience.

17. Steadfast

To provide the best customer assistance possible, it is important to have a team of reliable agents who are always prepared whenever someone requests their assistance regardless of their work setup (be it work-from-home or office-based).

Additionally, they should be mindful of shift schedules to prevent bottlenecks due to heavy volumes of inquiries. They must also abide by the company’s workplace policies and guidelines.

18. Software Literate

Interestingly, most of the aforementioned skills here will be useless if the agent has no idea how to use the software for the service. It doesn’t require agents to be tech-savvy to understand how to navigate software programs needed in a live chat customer service. All they need is an ample amount of background on how to use the helpdesk software properly. This is something that can be made possible by comprehensive training sessions.

19. Impeccable Typing Mastery

Arguably, a live chat agent’s main weapon is the keyboard. Sounds basic? Well, possessing a good command over the keyboard is an essential skill to bring the finest assistance at all times. Put simply, computer literacy helps agents or operators reply as quickly as possible without any grammatical and spelling errors.

Aside from learning how to type quickly without committing any typos, it would be helpful if agents are also familiar with specific keyboard shortcuts when handling documents or operating the chat software.

20. Eagerness to Learn

Even the most experienced live chat operator still needs to improve.

Eagerness to learn is one of the most essential skills that a live chat operator must possess. Remember, newer versions of helpdesk software programs will continuously be released. New features will eventually emerge, which will then require agents to adopt and master. Make room for new knowledge. There is always something valuable and innovative to absorb in every interaction with co-workers and customers.

Also, learning is not just all technicalities. An agent must also learn how to adapt to the changing workplace environment to ensure that each and every team member resonates with one another. In the long run, it leads to a more effective live chat customer assistance.

There’s More to It!

The list of must-have skills to be an effective live chat operator does not stop here. We’re only scratching the surface, to put it bluntly. The aforementioned skills in this article will serve as an excellent reference, a solid starting point if you are new to the world of customer support service. 

Alternatively, if you are a business owner who wants to have a functioning live chat customer service, don’t forget to seek these skills to aspiring candidates. If you already have a team of live chat support representatives, then allocate time to help impart these must-have traits in their work. Indeed, most of these skills are not innate to one person, but with proper training and a hint of a simple pep talk, developing a one-of-kind live chat operator team becomes attainable.

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