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Instant messaging/live chat etiquette tip

Posted by Michael Bloch in ecommerce (Saturday October 30, 2010 )

Live chat can be a powerful conversion tool in the online world – but if used incorrectly or inconsiderately, it can be counter-productive; and the same goes for in-house instant messaging.

Consider this scenario.

You arrive on a site and after surfing around for a minute or so, a chat box pops up saying “Hi, can I be of assistance? I’m here to help!”. I’m sure we’ve all seen those around the place.

You then interrupt your online shopping experience to answer the invitation and hit enter.

.. then you wait
.. and wait
.. and wait

When these boxes pop up, online shoppers expect there’s a consultant at the other end just itching to have a chat and to help out. A long response time on the merchant’s to invitation responses is even worse than calling a company and being put on hold, particularly since you’ve been invited to have a conversation.

These popups are usually programmed to automatically display after X period. It’s a handy function, but the bottom line is if you don’t have enough operators on hand to handle the responses to invitations to live chat, it’s probably better off leaving the trigger set to manual. That way when your operators have a free moment, they can duck around the site and offer their assistance and be able to respond quickly.

On a related topic, instant messaging is becoming more popular for internal communications in a company. It’s another incredibly powerful tool that’s often misused. Here’s an example

staff member: “I need some feedback on something urgently”

…so the person they’ve sent that to has now dropped whatever they were doing in preparation to learn about the urgent issue. In the meantime, the staff member has toddled off somewhere else or been otherwise distracted and the “urgent” issue requiring feedback isn’t relayed for 5 minutes.

It’s not only inconsiderate, the staff member asking the question has no idea what they’ve interrupted the other person from – and it may have been something even more important.

Pick up some more tips on instant messaging and live chat usage

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