Live Chat Etiquette Basics. How to Ask Questions Correctly

Live Chat Etiquette Basics
Live Chat Etiquette Basics

“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.” ― Voltaire

Properly and politely asked questions always make a good impression on customers. They create an atmosphere of friendliness and encourage customers to come back again and again. Normally it is not enough to answer questions politely, it is also important to put questions properly, show respect and polite attitude. In this blog post I would like to share some live chat etiquette ideas about this. Here they are:

Smile when asking questions

We can ask questions in a different way but if we want to provide a memorable customer experience we need to express our friendliness and desire to better assist not only while answering questions but also while asking them. Just compare these two questions:

  • “You spent more than $50 in our shop, we will ship your order for free. Where should we deliver your order?”
  • “We are glad to offer you a free shipping. Could you let us know the most suitable for you location where we can deliver your order?”

In both cases the same information is requested but the second example brings more positive emotions.

Avoid Yes / No questions

When you ask a yes/no question, you will most likely get incomplete information. Instead, you can ask an open-ended question. By using an open-ended question you get insights and additional information you may need. Close-ended questions with “is,” “are,” “would,” “should” and “do you think” in most cases lead to a yes or no answer. However, when you ask WH questions you normally receive more details.

Listen and don’t interrupt

Before you start asking questions ensure your customer has finished his story and you analyzed all the information provided. Only after this you can ask for additional details or clarifications. Interrupting customers and not listening to them is the most frequent mistake customer service agents make. And unfortunately in most cases it leads to poor customer experience and dissatisfied customers. However, when you listen to your customer’s story and take into account all information provided you will faster find a solution and avoid irritation while assisting your customer. Even if you have already understood the problem and have a ready solution, just listen and don’t interrupt. Your customer’s loyalty will be the best reward for this.

Explain your misunderstanding

Sometimes we can miss something out or just misunderstand what our customers meant. It happens and the best way is to let your customers know about your misunderstanding before asking questions. The following phrases will help you to express misunderstanding in a polite manner:

  • “I’m a bit unclear with that explanation…”
  • “I am sorry, I think I misunderstood you. Could you clarify regarding …. to ensure I understand everything correctly”

Gather as much information as possible about the issue

Before you start asking your customer questions ensure you have all needed information about the issue to avoid dumb and unnecessary questions. If you do not know something you can use Google to get some general information for better understanding. If a search engine can clear your doubts and give you an answer it is better to use it instead of asking your customers and showing you are not as technically savvy as you are expected to be.

Use correct grammar

Improper spelling sometimes is even worse than incompetence. Grammar and lexical mistakes may lead to misunderstanding and using of slang and acronyms in chat may create an impression of low quality of your customer service.

Don’t be aggressive when asking questions

When you ask questions in an aggressive manner you show that you suppose you are right and the other person is wrong. Questions asked in this way demonstrate that you are an argumentative person. Try being open-minded and show your genuine interest by asking questions right. Otherwise you may receive not helpful but defensive response. Avoid starting your questions with “Isn’t it true that….”, “I suppose you are wrong since….”. Instead, express your point of view and ask if the person you are talking with agrees with you.

Keep your questions simple

Don’t explain anything more than it is required to understand you and give you an answer. Extra information can be sometimes distracting and may cause misunderstanding or receiving a reply to an entirely different question.

How to follow up with a customer who shows no activity in live chat

By using supportive questions you can follow up with your customer and ensure the issue has been solved. You can also use such questions if your customers shows no activity in live chat. However, you need to ask questions carefully and avoid negativity in them. Otherwise your customers may think you are trying to finish the chat session faster and do not want to assist them. Please take a look at these questions:

  • “Is there anything else wrong?”
  • “How else can I help you today?”
  • “I am sorry, is there anything else I can help you with today?”

When you ask your customer a negative question, you may get a negative outcome. However, if you inquire about further assistance in a positive manner showing that you are ready and willing to assist, your customers will feel happy and satisfied with your customer service level.

I hope you found these live chat etiquette tips helpful. If you’d like to share some more examples and recommendations, please feel free to leave your comments below.

Provide Support is a leading software provider in customer service, offering live chat and real-time visitor monitoring tool for websites. Empowering customer service with live chat.