So what’s the best thing you can say in an opening line of live chat?
What I mean is, if someone asks you a question or comes in and they start a live chat on your website, what’s the best way to answer that question?
Now, it might be a really tough question.
It might be a really long question.
A lot of times, people have had a moment to type in a lot of words. They may have a really detailed and articulate question that they just couldn’t get answers for on their own.
They’ve been researching your site for a while, and this is the first time they’re reaching out in many cases.
Or it might be someone who has been considering the purchase for a while. Maybe they’re an active opportunity. And this is one of those details that is going to help the detail along.
In fact, this might not even be your buyer. This might be an influencer at the company, someone that’s part of the buying committee. It’s very important to get these questions answered, and, at the very minimum, addressed in a timely manner.
So what’s the best way to answer these questions?
I’m going to give you a foolproof way to answer these questions every single time. It works without fail. The best answer to a long and tough question is, “Hey.”
I’m going to say that again.
The best answer to a long and tough question is, “Hey.”
And I mean H-E-Y – the word “hey.” You could use howdy, hello – anything else. Just type that in and press Enter. Press Return.
Just get something over to them. Let them know. “Okay, got it. I see your message. I see you. I see that you’re here and I acknowledge you.” That is the best answer to a long question.
Only then can you go and start working on this stuff because you can say, “Hey.” (Enter) “I’m reading your question now.” (Enter). Then you read the question. “Okay.” (Enter). “It looks like there are some details I’ll need to check on.” (Enter). “Do you have a few minutes to hang on? (maybe five or ten?)” (Enter). If it’s going to take that long, let them know it’s going to take that long.
I’m telling you when to press Enter in these cases because people use short, choppy bits of text when they’re sending their friends text messages. By far, it’s the best way to communicate when it comes to live chat.
The way that I’ve gotten better at this personally is by using my phone and the app for Drift, which is the live chat platform we use at ClosedWon. We use our phones in many cases to respond, especially at first. And there’s an added benefit, just because you get the notification on your phone when something gets routed to you.
So you can just pick that up immediately, start typing there, and then you can pull up the browser tab and get your workstation going after that. If you know you’re going to be engaged in a live chat, you can pull up the tab and get your whole thing going on the computer as you do that. But getting those first few responses in as short, choppy bits and really quick answers is the key to making sure that they don’t bail and that they know that you’ve got this, because that is the key.
They might type in this really long question and only wait ten seconds. They might only wait ten minutes. You can’t leave them hanging for very long. Whatever it is, there’s a breaking point in which someone might just leave.
Sometimes we’re lucky and people just move on to a different browser tab and keep working and wait for a response. That’s probably most people. But there is a difference as a customer.
Think about the difference between someone who gets back in less than a minute or two versus someone who gets back in three hours or someone who doesn’t get back in an hour.
Those kinds of things make a huge difference when it comes to buying decisions. So you want to make sure that not only are we trying to respond quickly but we’re responding quickly in a way that sounds more human and is just acknowledging, “Hey. Okay. I see that you’re here, and I see that you have a complex question. I might need to go get some more information. So, if you don’t mind hanging on, (I’m giving you permission to move around for five minutes or go do something and come back.)” As the person on the other side, I’m giving the customer permission to do that, too.
By telling people how long things are going to take, it’s letting them off the hook of having to sit there, waiting for a response to come in.
I don’t know if you’ve ever had that experience, where you’re having a live chat and then one minute goes by, two minutes go by since the last response, and then you end up sending a message, like, “Are you there” five minutes in, and then just type something back: “Yes, I’m still checking for you.” But you didn’t know that they went to go check. That kind of thing is frustrating.
Just keep people in the know. “Hey, look. It’s going to be five, ten minutes. You can even hop over to another tab and this thing will flash when I’m back,” or, “Keep your sound on so that there’ll be a ding when it comes back and you can get back to work,” or, “Hey, if you want to drop in your number, I can call you.” Just let them off the hook. That’s key.
And you don’t have to have the answer to every question right away. This is the single biggest and most empowering thing for anyone who has not been in this situation before: you don’t have to know everything. All you have to know how to do is say hello to someone who has said hello to you. That is it.
Always be polite. You should try and spell things reasonably correctly. There is a certain amount of leeway for brevity and using short, choppy bits because of the medium. And I would highly encourage you to use it.
I wouldn’t worry about making these long and big complete sentences because it’s not e-mail. You don’t need to have a huge, complete thought and well-structured paragraphs by any means. Short, choppy bits. Incomplete sentences. Totally fine. That’s not unprofessional in this context. It’s just trying to convey the information as it’s coming through.
In fact, it’s a lot easier to read because of the way the information comes back to them because, if you think about how messages work, if you were to put something in that is taller than the screen, then they would have to scroll up to start reading and then scroll back down. Then, if you type something else, it would keep scrolling them back, and that could be frustrating.
So just keep it to short, choppy bits. Communicate quick ideas. Tell people when you are not going to be back for a couple of minutes. People will appreciate it like you wouldn’t believe. This gives you permission to not have to know everything, because someone in your organization will, and you can always ask for permission to follow up. And this allows you to ask for their contact information, which is always a good idea.
So, in summary, don’t worry about it. Just say hi. I say hey. That’s just me. You could say hi. Doesn’t matter. If you get a tough question, just say hey.