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3 tips for human-centered live chat

| August 20, 2019
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The ability to communicate without our voices has become a part of daily life. So much so that wall phones have become artifacts in the home and unlimited text messaging has become standard for cell phone plans. And it doesn’t stop there. In this convenience-driven economy, text messaging, in the form of live chat or chatbots, has in many ways taken the place of a phone conversation for things like customer service and support.

The opportunity for customers to get their questions answered and problems solved without wasting time on hold is convenient, but it’s also presented us with some interesting customer experience challenges along the way. Without the benefit of visual and auditory cues, we’re forced to depend solely on the words we see on a screen. And similar to how our tone of voice, or body language, can change the meaning of a word or statement, the way we type can also change how a message is perceived. 

Our interactions aren’t strictly ruled by the likes of the Associated Press or the Chicago Style Manual. Our preferred communication method is electronic, instant (relatively), and open to interpretation by the reader. So how do you assure a great customer experience with so many variables?

The answer lies in remembering who you’re talking to—a human. Communicating with customers through live chat has its own special rules, especially when it comes to customer experience. If you have customers that interface with a live chat or text interface there are a few things you need to keep in mind if you want to deliver a great experience.

1. A human needs to read your copy

This might sound obvious, but it’s often overlooked. Computer-generated communication is scalable, and efficient, but if that copy isn’t tested with real humans it risks coming across like it was written by a machine. But just because a machine may be generating the copy, that doesn’t mean it has to sound that way. Copy that’s sincere and empathetic helps customers feel less detached from the experience, even if they know they’re interacting with a robot. No matter where your copy comes from, it should feel like a real person wrote it.

2. (Some) rules go out the window

The fun and interesting thing about humans is that we don’t always follow the rules. Sure, we may have been taught not to end a sentence with a preposition. But is that how we really talk? It may seem weird if you’re typing it out over a chat window, but if you don’t type like you speak, things will quickly start to feel insincere. When it comes to live chats, traditional rules of grammar and language don’t necessarily apply. Just make sure you use textspeak sparingly and keep your message friendly, but professional.

3. Emojis aren’t all bad

In most professional situations, it’s generally preferred to avoid emojis, but they’re not all bad. When it comes to rapid-fire messaging, they do serve a purpose. When you’re communicating textually, you’re also communicating visually. That means that your reader will be translating your message both verbally and emotionally. Adding a simple emoji can help ensure that your reader picks up on the intended tone of your message. 🙂

Keeping interactions human

Human interaction is complicated. Typically we require both visual and auditory stimulation. But we’ve moved to a textual form of communication that makes our traditional forms of dialogue less convenient. And that can alter customer experience. The things you think you know about written communication may not apply to every form of written communication. Keeping your customer at the center of live chat interactions will help keep those interactions helpful and human.