11 Live chat etiquette tips—do's and don'ts to follow for exceptional customer service

While live chat is one of the most popular mediums of customer service due to its convenience and availability, ensuring customer satisfaction through live chat involves a delicate balance of professionalism, efficiency, and empathy. In this blog, we'll delve into a detailed list of customer service live chat etiquette tips that can help you deliver top-notch customer experiences. Whether you're a seasoned live chat agent or just a newbie, this list of live chat etiquette rules can help you master most live chat situations with ease.

live chat etiquette for customer service

What is live chat etiquette? 

Live chat etiquette is a set of guidelines to ensure effective and respectful communication. It refers to how live chat agents should talk to customers to maintain a positive tone in the conversation and to address the chat inquiry promptly.

Why is chat etiquette important?   

Following live chat etiquette is imperative in customer service as it leads to clear and courteous communication, fostering a positive impression of the live chat agent which again extends to the company. This enhances trust and credibility for the brand.

Chat etiquette also enhances customer satisfaction and better customer relationships leading to customer loyalty.

11 live chat etiquette tips to follow

Every organization has its own set of rules and standards for customer service, but here's a list of 11 live chat etiquette tips that are essential for customer service everywhere.  

1. Start your chat with a friendly greeting

How you start a chat sets the tone for the entire conversation. A warm and welcoming greeting immediately puts the customer at ease and makes them feel like their concerns and issues will be met with empathy and understanding.

To achieve this, personalize your greeting whenever possible, addressing the customer by name if available. Express genuine enthusiasm and eagerness to assist the customer to drive the message that meeting the customer's needs is your top priority.

2. Show understanding and empathy

Showing understanding and empathy is crucial customer service etiquette as it creates a human connection and demonstrates genuine care for the customer's situation. By expressing genuine empathy and validating the customer's feelings, customer service representatives can help alleviate some of the frustration or anxiety the customer may be experiencing. This fosters trust and rapport and increases overall customer satisfaction.

3. Pacify angry customers

While talking to angry customers, it's very important to keep your cool and pacify them without being defensive or making excuses. The best thing is to acknowledge their feelings, focus on problem-solving, and tell them you’re doing your best to fix it. As this is a pretty common, yet difficult situation that customer support teams face, we have a detailed blog that can help you understand how to deal with angry customers.

At any cost, don't argue your stance. If customers are being abusive, let them know they're using impolite language and that you'll be ending the chat if they persist.

4. Use listening indicators

In customer service, it's crucial that your customers feel that their concerns are being heard and understood, and that makes this an important support etiquette. Acknowledge and respond to their messages with appropriate indicators—like okay, sure, I understand—or even paraphrase their concerns while customers are elaborating on their query to show them that you're actively listening. This demonstrates empathy and attentiveness, which can help diffuse their frustrations and build trust.

5. Keep your response time short 

Maintaining a short response time is crucial in customer service live chat as customers are already approaching you to fix a problem and expect quick resolutions, and delayed responses can lead to further frustration and dissatisfaction.  

Typing preview, ie. getting a sneak-peek of the customer's question before they hit send and canned responses, ie. pre-written templates for common inquiries can help you reduce response times. In addition, AI-powered smart suggestions—automatic response suggestions to customer queries from your canned responses and knowledge base—can also help you maintain short response times.

6. Keep the customer informed

This is one of the most important customer service live chat etiquette rules in this list.

If you need a few minutes to find some information in order to respond to a query, let the customer know that there’ll be a slight wait and the reason for the delay. It’s courteous and prevents frustration at not getting an immediate response

7. Reciprocate your customer's tone

Matching your customer's tone and language in customer service live chat establishes solidarity and helps build a rapport with the customer. Gauge how the customer is speaking and respond in a similar tone. If they are speaking very formally, mirror it. If they are casual and using lots of emojis, don’t be afraid to loosen up, as long as you keep the conversation appropriate. Acronyms/colloquial shortcuts like BRB (Be Right Back), LOL (Laughing Out Loud) or NP (No Problem) have no place in a professional live chat even if the customer is very casual.

8. Double-check with the customer when you're unsure

Customer queries can sometimes be ambiguous. Rather than potentially misinterpreting queries and answering them, paraphrase the query and ask questions to confirm that you've understood it right. This support etiquette shows that you value the customer's time and concerns enough to verify information before proceeding and demonstrates your commitment to providing accurate and reliable assistance. This can also reduce the need for follow-up queries or escalations.

9. Be concise and crisp in your responses

Customers appreciate quick and to-the-point responses from customer service. So, ensure that your responses are concise and crisp. Use clear language and avoid any information that's not necessary to solve the customer's query.

If your answer to a query is inevitably long or complex, cut them into small comprehensible chunks. This works out for two reasons:

  1. Your customers understand you better and can clarify their doubts along the way.

  2. They can stop you right in the beginning if you've misunderstood the question so you don't waste either party's time with the entire answer.

If the customer has multiple questions or issues, address each one separately in concise paragraphs or bullet points. This makes it easier for the customer to follow and understand your response.

In addition to showing that you respect the customer's time, clear and concise responses also ensure that the customer easily understands what you're trying to communicate and minimizes any confusion or misinterpretation. It also helps retain the customer's attention and keeps them engaged in the conversation.

Integrating OpenAI (ChatGPT) with your live chat software can help you rephrase your responses to make them clear and to-the-point.

10. Check grammar and spelling

Checking your live chat responses for grammar and spelling is paramount for maintaining a professional image and credibility in the minds of customers. Customers often judge the competence of the company based on the quality of communication, and typos or blatantly obvious grammar mistakes can throw your and your company's reputations in bad light. Moreover, spelling or grammar mistakes can sometimes change the meaning of a sentence or lead to misunderstandings.

The OpenAI integration mentioned in the previous point can check your message for typos or grammatical errors, and even fix them for you, helping you hit two birds with one stone.

11. Share all possible solutions to a query

If a customer's issue/concern can be solved in several ways, it is a good idea to share all of them with the customer as they may prefer one solution/approach over another. Giving customers the power to choose from all available options makes them feel valued and enhances customer satisfaction.

5 common live chat mistakes to avoid

Along with incorporating the customer service etiquette rules given above, it's also important to avoid certain common mistakes customer service representatives make.

1. Don't be a machine gun agent

Some live chat agents tend to fire off questions one after the other in an attempt to understand the issue the customer is facing and provide quick resolutions. Shooting questions in rapid succession before the customer's had a chance to elaborate can frustrate them and make the live chat conversation feel more like an interrogation. Instead, give your customers time to elaborate on their query or answers to your questions, and prod further only if they've stopped typing.

2. Don't sound too scripted

While live chat scripts can be helpful for maintaining consistency in customer support and enhancing efficiency, relying too heavily on them can make conversations feel robotic and impersonal.

Treat chat scripts only as guidelines and tailor your own responses for different customers and situations to strike a balance.

3. Don't use business jargon or complicated language

You may be surprised at the number of live chat agents who use business or industry jargon or difficult words unnecessarily while talking to customers. As a customer service representative, your number one priority should be to ensure customers understand what you're saying. Using overly technical terms or complex language hinders that. Instead, know your audience and use language and terms they're familiar with.

4. Don't promise what you can't deliver

In an attempt to pacify angry customers, customer service representatives may end up committing to what the customer asks for and sometimes more, without verifying whether it's possible. Continuous unfulfilled promises break trust and damage customer relationships. That's not all—negative customer experiences are often shared with their circles and even on social media and can cause massive damage to your brand's reputation.

Customers value honesty and reliability. So, in customer service live chat, it's vital to manage expectations realistically and only commit to what you know you can fulfill. If you're unable to meet a customer's request, offer alternative solutions or escalate the issue to someone who can help.

5. Don't end chats abruptly

As customers of other companies, we've all come across situations where our customer service chat is ended soon after the live chat agent's answer after a perfunctory call for response. Ending chats like this impacts the overall customer experience even if you've managed to resolve the customer's issue.

Instead, ensure all of the customer's questions are answered, ask them if there's anything else you can help them with, and after they respond, thank them, let them know how to contact you if they have further questions, and say goodbye with a future focus.

If the customer is unresponsive, it's courteous to wait for 1 or 2 minutes before sending them a gentle follow-up message, and if there's still no response, it's advisable to wait for 3 to 5 minutes before ending the chat after letting the customer know how to contact you if they need more assistance.

Step up your live chat support game with Zoho SalesIQ 

With these dos and don'ts of chat etiquette for customer service, you can leverage live chat software like Zoho SalesIQ to respond quickly to customers with canned responses, typing preview, and AI-powered smart suggestions; send grammatically correct, concise responses to customers with the OpenAI integration; manage the influx of chats easily with chatbots; manage abusive chats with profanity management; set up rules and custom messages for ending chats; and more.

Want to see SalesIQ in action?  Book a free one-on-one demo or sign up for a 15-day free trial.

Let us know in the comments below how these chat etiquette tips have worked for you. You can also share anything we may have missed out.


2 Replies to 11 Live chat etiquette tips—do's and don'ts to follow for exceptional customer service

  1. Hi, Great article! Your insights are spot on Live chat. I especially appreciate your point aboutcustomer service. It's evident you've done your research. Keep up the excellent work! Looking forward to reading more from you.

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