Customer Service Cheat Sheet for Live Chat Operators with Examples of Responses

Live Chat Etiquette in Customer Service
Live Chat Etiquette in Customer Service

Chat etiquette plays a huge role in customer service. Professional and authentic interaction with clients goes far beyond the opportunity to make a sale. It helps to build a lasting relationship with the customer, inspire future communication and create fans and advocates of your brand.

How to treat the customer to be able to appreciate all these benefits and escalate your service to a more professional and human level?

Customer service training is the most important part in achieving these goals.

Professional line of communication is not that obvious to expect your service agents to get at it intuitively. It is especially true with new employees who often need help finding the proper style of communication which would stick with your business objectives and allow them to maintain their authenticity.

Below are some guidelines on how a service agent can best handle the major key points in a live chat conversation.

1. How to start a chat

Use a proper greeting. It may sound very basic, but actually not everyone does it right. Greeting is important, as it sets the tone for the whole conversation.

Quite often the service agents fall into one of the two extremes: either their greeting is too short and informal, or too long and formal, both of which betray the lack of respect and concern for the customer.

Greeting should be professional, while remaining friendly and personal at the same time. A good example would be:

Hello John, thank you for calling Provide Support. How may I help you?

Or you can start with a shorter but more personal greeting:

Hello John! How are you doing?

I am personally a fan of this one, as it works really well. Many customers are actually surprised with this question, in a good way. Probably because support elsewhere rarely ask them this question. It instantly sets the rep on friendly terms with the customer and the conversation becomes less formal and template based while keeping a business tone.

After the customer confirms his wellbeing you can move on with:

Perfect, I am really glad to hear that! How may I help you today?

or you can express your sympathy if the customer is not doing well:

I am really sorry to hear that. Is there anything I can do to help you?

If the customer starts the chat with a description of his problem, you can respond in the following way:

Hello Mary. I understand the problem and will be happy to help you. Let’s see what I can do.

If the customer did not provide his name, you can ask for it. It will show your concern and attention:

Hello! May I have your name please?

Once you have the name, make sure to spell it correctly.

2. How to ask for more information or verify your understanding of the question/problem

To avoid any confusion and a long chat, make sure you understand the customer’s issue before giving your instructions or offering solutions. There are many ways you can ask for clarification politely:

Let me check that I have this right…

Let me see if I have this correct, you want me to…” or “You would like for me to…?”

If I understand you correctly…

Tell me more about…

So you are saying that…correct?

This is what I understand you are telling me…

3. How to say “I don’t know”

If you don’t know the answer to the customer’s question, be frank about it, however, avoid using the too straightforward “I don’t know”. Here’s how you can play it out nice:

That is a good question, let me find out for you.

I’m not sure, but let me find out for you.

I’m sorry, I don’t have the information on that. May I put you on hold for a few minutes? I will clarify this with our manager.

I’m sorry, I don’t have the information on that. May I have your email/phone number? I will find this out with our accounting department and get back to you shortly.

I’m sorry, this question would be out of my expertise, but Daniel from the tech support department will be able to help you. Would you like me to connect you with him?

4. How to transfer

It is no secret that most customers do not enjoy being transferred. So if you have to transfer, do it only when it is absolutely necessary. Otherwise, try to find out the information for yourself.

Before transferring, inform the customer why and to whom their call is being transferred.

Jerry, I am going to connect you with Steve from the shipping department. He will be able to help you with this problem.

Jerry, let me transfer you to the marketing department. Steve will be able to answer your question.

It is also important to notify the person to whom you are transferring the chat, give them the customer’s name and explain the nature of their question or problem.

5. How to put on hold

If you need some time to investigate the problem, ask the customer’s permission to put them on hold.

Would you mind holding on for a few minutes while I am checking this with our administrator?

May I put your call on hold while I am checking your order?

Can I put you on hold for a moment?

On receiving their consent, make sure to thank the customer before leaving the chat. When you are back, thank them again for waiting.

Thank you for waiting/holding. I have the details of your latest payment, let me send it over to you.

If you feel resolution of their problem is going to take a longer time, ask the customer whether they would like you to call or email them back rather than waiting on hold.

Jan, I will need to put you on hold for a few minutes to run a few tests and see if I can reproduce the problem. Would that be ok with you or would you prefer I call/email you back with the details?

If you’ve been away for too long and the customer has been inquiring about your absence, make sure to apologize to them.

I’m sorry to keep you waiting. I have managed to reproduce the problem. Here’s what needs to be done to fix it.

6. How to admit fault

Be direct and clear about the fact that you made a mistake. If it is your personal mistake, say that.

Rob, I’m sorry, I made a mistake and gave you the wrong price for this item. The correct price is…

If it is someone else’s mistake, say that it was “our” mistake attributing it to the company rather than to the individual person who is not present in the chat room with you.

John, I’m sorry, we made a mistake and sent the invoice to the wrong email address, which is why you did not receive it. We are going to resend it now to the correct address and add a few more days to your subscription to make up for our error.

7. How to say “No”

Saying a blank “No” to the customer may appear quite rude. The best approach is to use the “Compliment Sandwhich”, my favorite tactics which John Rydell beautifully describes in his article “Simple Tips on Having the Hard Conversation”. This tactics is basically about adding two positive statements on either side of a bad one.

For example, if the customer is asking to be connected with a team member who is not available for a chat, you would usually say:

I’m sorry, Joan is not available right now. May I help you with something?

First you express empathy that the customer’s desire cannot be fulfilled at the moment – “I’m sorry”. Then you make the actual negative statement – “Joan is not available”. After that you complete your response with something positive, an offer of help – “May I help you with something?”.

You could extend this to deal with more complicated situations. Here are a few more examples.

I’m sorry, we cannot lower the price for this item any further, but we have a similar product which is priced cheaper because it doesn’t have the built-in face recognition. Would you be interested to take a look at it?

I’m sorry, we don’t have this feature at moment. We do intend to add it to our service and we can notify you when it has been done. Would you like to receive an email update?

8. How to follow up

If you promised the customer to call or email them back, it is desirable that you do that within a 24-hour time-frame, even if you don’t have an answer to their question yet.

Rob, I just wanted to let you know that we are still investigating the problem. We don’t have a solution yet. I will email you as soon as we have found the bug.

Jerry, we haven’t been able to complete the transition of your account yet due to a small database issue on our server. We are fixing this now and hope to have everything ready for you by tomorrow. We will keep you posted.

If you missed a chat request and have the customer’s contact information, your client will no doubt appreciate it if you follow up with them right away:

Hello Tom. I’m sorry we have missed your chat. Is there anything we can help you with?

9. How to handle complaints and angry customers

Start by showing sincere sympathy and understanding, acknowledge the customer’s feelings.

I am really sorry this has happened. Let me see if I can find a solution to it.

I’m really sorry about that. Tell me what happened.

I’m sorry you are having this problem. Let’s see if there is anything we can do to help the situation.

Express your willingness to help commit till you find a solution or compromise to deal with the issue.

I’m sorry you are not happy with our product/with your purchase. Let’s see what we can do to make things right.”

 “I’m sorry you didn’t receive your purchase on time. Let me find out what I can do to make it up to you.”

“I’m sorry this has happened. I understand your frustration, and I will do my best to help you.”

10. How to deliver on a promise

Sometimes it happens that a customer has been promised something which is impossible to accomplish, either through lack of knowledge or misinformation.

Instead of direct denial “We could not have promised anything like that”, reassure the customer that you are going to verify that which he had been promised and offer him apologies and or make it up to him if there was a mistake.

Let me put you on hold for just a few moments and verify this information.

If I understand you correctly, you were promised… It appears there has been a mistake. Let’s figure out how we can resolve this

11. How to handle several clients simultaneously

When you have to deal with several clients at the same time do not give the impression that you are rushed. If it is necessary, take the extra time for yourself by telling the customer that you are going to check the information for him and asking him to hold for a few minutes.

The customer is not concerned with slower responses or minor delays, they are concerned with lack of your attention. It is ok to make them wait if you first ask their permission for it.

Jerry, let me review your transaction history. Please bear with me for a few more minutes.

If your responses are delayed and the customer enquires about it, never tell them you are dealing with other clients. The customer should always have the impression that he is the only one you are dealing with at that moment. If there are any delays, attribute them to your checking up the information for the client.

I’m sorry for the delay on my part. I am pulling up your account details. Please allow me another minute. I’ll be back with you right away

12. How to treat those who contacted the wrong chat

It is important to treat all callers with respect, even if they are not your clients or potential customers. Most people who are contacting you by chat have some sort of online presence and if you are rude with them or reluctant to give them a clear answer, they can leave false negative comments about your company in online forums or on social media. To avoid such situations, make sure to come up with a friendly response to such callers.

I’m sorry, you have reached the wrong company. This is…, we are not affiliated with…

If they apologize for having reached the wrong chat, reassure them everything is ok and end the chat.

No problem. Thank you for your call. Have a good day.

If they insist that you should still help them, don’t let yourself be trapped into an endless chat, give the user a reason why you cannot help them and close the chat room.

I’m sorry, we would not be the right company to help you with your question. We don’t deal in…We appreciate your contact. Have a good day.

13. How to wrap up the call

Ask if you can be any further assistance. If any further action is to be taken, clarify what was agreed upon.

Mary, is there anything else I might help you with today?

John, is there anything else I can do for you? As agreed, I will post a note to our billing department regarding your payment and we will follow up with you on that by tomorrow.

Thank the customer for calling your chat line. Invite them to chat again. End the conversation with a definite “goodbye” or any other expression which leaves no doubt that the conversation is ended.

If any other questions arise, please feel free to contact us at any time. Thanks so much for calling. Good bye.

Thank you for chatting with us today. Have a nice day. Good bye.

Who should hang up first? Preferably, let the person calling hang up first. If they forget to close the chat room right away, keep half a minute pause after your last message and then close the chat room.

So there you go. I hope you find these recommendations useful.

Just a quick final tip: you can turn some of these phrases into canned responses in your live chat client and save time to yourself and your operators typing this over.

If you are like myself, rooting for a better customer service around, give a heads-up to this post on social media and share it with your employees and colleagues.

Thank you for making it to the bottom!))

Maria Lebed

Maria Lebed

Maria is a Customer Service Advocate and Social Media Coordinator at Provide Support, LLC. She is a writer and blogger on customer experience, customer service innovation and live chat support service.
Maria Lebed

105 thoughts on “Customer Service Cheat Sheet for Live Chat Operators with Examples of Responses

  1. i am starting tech support job from next week and i truly appreciate your time and effort for posting this blog this really helped me a lot ..excellent post this is what i was looking for

  2. I agree 100 % with the cheat sheet strategies indicated in this article.
    I’m a retired customer service representative. Are there any part time live chat opportunities of perhaps 10-20 hours per week.

  3. Thanks for the blog. I truly appreciate your time and effort for posting this blog this really helped me a lot

  4. Hi everyone, I am very thankful to all of you that you guys have alots of ideas & how to handle the diffrent situation on live chat with the customer that you guys expose here with your comments that really motivate and encourage me to handle the chat in enormous way.

    1. Hi Patrick, thank you for your nice feedback to our team. We are really happy to know that our effort helps you in your work. Comments like yours inspire us to share more of our knowledge and experience, thank you very much.

  5. Execellent article for all customer support Reps who have to deal their company clients as valuable and worthy as they should be, to keep the reputation of company higher
    Truly, CS dept. Plays an important role in business
    Thanks for such helpful guidence.

  6. This is a great article for both live chat agents and phone support. I really appreciate your post and hope every business can implement the suggestions you mentioned above.

  7. You won’t success without support agents as they are playing significant role in your business and help you find the way and attract leads toturn them all to your regular customers afterwards.

    Think about this…

  8. Thanks a bunch for the post. I have been working as a customer care executive for more than 4 years. I have practiced the responses in live chat and it gave me positive feedback from the customers and my work has been appreciated in my company. Even if you are unable to deliver customer’s need, be positive & build a rapport with the customer, don’t make the customer feel left out. Providing alternatives in such situation could work in your favour.

  9. thank you soooo much. It was really helpfull for me improve myself to deal with USA clients. I really appreciate you efforts and hope in future you post more than these.

  10. This is really helpful. I am currently working as a customer service representative for a financial company and find the cheat sheets EXTREMELY HELPFUL. Thanks! More power! :)

    1. Hello Kavitha. I think the best practice if the customer repeats his question would be to repeat your answer, but rephrase it. If the customer is repeating, it means he does not understand your reply, so you need try to explain the same in different words.

  11. All the comments about handling difficult conversations are excellent and we teach our agents to do exactly that. I am seeking advice on how to end a difficult conversation where all alternatives have been offered and the customer “wants what they want”. We cannot give them what they want and they will go on insisting. A 15 minute chat then turns into a 40 minute chat with other chats abandoned. I have suggested something along the lines of, I do apologize I can’t help you with your request. I have offered many alternatives and they do not seem to be acceptable. That being the case I apologize that I have no solution to your request on this chat line. Possibly someone in one of our stores may have more authority or better alternatives at their disposal. Are there any other issue AI can help you with.

    1. Hello Glen. Thank you for bringing up this question. It is quite a common situation and it is really important to treat this type of customers right. I agree with everything that you have said. In my experience, if the agent indeed has no solution, one must tell it in clear words and give the reason why, explain to the customer why they cannot help. Just saying “I’m sorry, I cannot help you” sounds a little offensive to me. So my suggestion is to stress the reason why rather than the fact of denial, “I’m sorry, we cannot help, because..”, “unfortunately, we cannot meet your request at the moment, because (describe the situation)”. If the customer is not clear about the reason and asking the same question again, the agent can try to explain again in different words. However, if everything is clarified and the customer is being persistent for no reason, the agent can switch to other requests without closing the chat room with the customer. This way they will give the customer to understand that there is indeed no solution to their question without being rude to them. This has some psychological effect on this type of customers. The more the agent continues to try to explain what have already been explained, the more they will persist. It’s as if they are feeding on the attention which is being given to them. So in these rare cases, it is good to create a little more space and time in the conversation.

  12. Thanks so much for this post! This is the most helpful information for me to use at work! I have just started 4 months as a chat representative for cell company and I’ve been having issues with a long chat time, and I think this article will help me keep my chats clear, focused and efficient!

  13. I have just started working on web chat, it has been a baptism of fire for me having had no formal training, your information has been a great help to me, thank you for taking the time and trouble to post it
    Thanks again

    1. Thank you for your feedback. I’m glad the post was helpful. You can connect with me on social media, the links are provided below the post.

  14. I will be a sales webchat and today is my assessment. Hope I will pass and thank you for all the spills that I can use.
    Thanks a lot! your awesome!

  15. Thanks so much for this post! This is the most helpful information for me to use at work!
    Really, i love how you shared your experience with others
    Thanks a lot,

  16. I would imagine that having a script like this to go off of would really help provide better service. At least for me I know that I have a tendency to freeze up when people ask me questions. If I was working for customer service I’d probably be making a note of some of these responses that customers may have.

  17. Thank you so much for making this . It really helped me a lot for my upcoming new position which is chat support. I’ve been looking for site/blogs that can give clearly what is the rule of a chat support, and some templates that I could use for my customers defending on the situations. I appreciate you that you did this on step by step. I wanted always to connect with you as I entering my journey as a chat support, is there anything way to connect you always like facebook or email? I am looking forward hearing you soon. Again, thank you!

    1. Thank you very much for your feedback, Jayne. I am happy the post was helpful to you in your work! The best way to connect is to subscribe to our blog, we are sharing all the best tips here. You can also join our LinkedIn Group, we are sharing a lot there too. My personal social media profiles are linked at the bottom of this blog post. Thank you!

  18. Hi Maria,
    Nice to see you, I am a customer service of a sports shoes company which called kicksvovo, we are located in China, today I encoutered your this nice blog, I am very interest in the live chat plugin which in your website, i visited the website “providesupport” just now, it is great that there is a plugin which could be installed in OpenCart platform (our website created by OpenCart), I will send your great website to our webmaster, I think he will interest in your great live chat service too:) And I have bookmarked your this perfect blog :) Thank you Maria, you told me so many great tips of customer communication, great!!! If our webmaster agree with my suggestion to install the live chat plugin in our website, I will contact with you again :) Thanks a lot!
    Best Regards,

  19. Hi Maria, nice to see you, I am in customer service team of a sports shoes company, I encountered your this great blog today, it’s great! I visited your website just now, it shows me that there is a plugin which could be installed in OpenCart, I have sent your website to our webmaster just now, we decide to purchase the great service form your company :) Also thanks for you shared me so many great tips of customer service, bookmarked your blog :)

    1. Thank you for subscribing to our service. It’s great to hear our tool came in handy for your website.

  20. Hi Maria,
    I am a online chat supporter of a marketing company. Your cheat sheet is great for me. Thank for share this awesome post.

    Best Regards,

  21. nice to see you, I am in customer service team of a sports shoes company, I encountered your this great blog today, it’s great! I visited your website just now, it shows me that there is a plugin which could be installed in OpenCart, I have sent your website to our webmaster just now, we decide to purchase the great service form your company :) Also thanks for you shared me so many great tips of customer service, bookmarked your blog

    1. Thanks for your feedback, Fred! I’m glad you enjoyed the blog and hope that your customers will love the live chat service on your website.

  22. Hi Maria, nice to see you, I am in customer service team of a sports shoes company, I encountered your this great blog today, it’s great! I visited your website just now, it shows me that there is a plugin which could be installed in OpenCart, I have sent your website to our webmaster just now, we decide to purchase the great service form your company :) Also thanks for you shared me so many great tips of customer service, bookmarked your blog

  23. Hi Maria, nice to see you, I am in customer service team of a sports shoes company, I encountered your this great blog today, it’s great! I visited your website just now, it shows me that there is a plugin which could be installed in OpenCart, I have sent your website to our webmaster just now, we decide to purchase the great service form your company :) Also thanks for you shared me so many great tips of customer service, bookmarked your blog :)

    1. Thank you for reading our blog, Kathy. I’m glad to hear it is useful to you in your work. I hope your customers will enjoy the live chat feature on your website.

  24. This is a very helpfull tip for me, because this is my first job ang first chat experience. I wrote down all the tips that surely will help me on my first job in handling costumers on chat. Thank you so much for this tips.

  25. Thanks a lot for these helpful tips. I want to get some idea about live chat experience because I had some bad experiences about live chat support executives. After reading your article here I hope these tips will surely help me. I am so positive :)

  26. Nice to be here and wanna say thanks a lot for providing this informative stuff which i need to explore. Good to be here and also wanna say thanks for providing me great info about customer care cheat codes for online chat. Nice information. Good to see you.

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