Nerves; the typical feeling you expect when walking into work for your first day on a new job. But what if you aren’t going into the office? What if your office is at home?
Well that’s exactly how it happened for me when I began working with The Chat Shop, as a live chat expert working from my home in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Nerves; they were still there on the first day. But unlike your “traditional” job, it wasn’t in case I got stuck in traffic and showed up late, or in case I’d worn the wrong thing and would create a lasting impression for the wrong reasons. It was an entirely different feeling of nervousness, and a whole new spectrum of possible situations, for example, what would it be like working from home? Would I get lonely? What would I do if I needed to ask a question? Who would help me if I got stuck?
Monday morning, 8.45am, and I walk into my “office” at home. I’ve set up a nice working environment in the back room. I’ve made a coffee, I’ve dressed comfortably, and I’m ready to learn. I log onto my computer, where my second screen plays host to a chat room, filled with all my colleagues, wishing each other good morning, sharing jokes and talking about the weekend.
Would I get lonely? Well that was one question answered, whether my colleagues were based in our office, or at their home in any of the numerous locations around the UK, everyone was there, and engaging in some of the pre-work chatter you would expect in any office.
Shortly after, I received a call from my Team Leader, outlining some of the main objectives of my job role, explaining the training program they had taken so much time and effort to schedule to the finest detail, and generally “getting to know me”. Would I get lonely? All of a sudden, in the space of one hour, I’ve spoken more between chat and phone than I had done in any other job. One thing was for sure, it wasn’t going to be a lonely journey.
I began my training schedule which had been carefully crafted with so much preparation - I wasn’t going into anything blind, and having access to all the resources for each of our clients allowed me to adequately prepare for each day ahead.
It has to be said that living up to the expectation of each individual client is not as simple as reading about their business and chatting with their visitors. As the first person a guest will speak to on behalf of that client, I knew I was going to be expected to know everything. And of course the client has their own expectations of what they would like to achieve from the chat. So, for each and every client, a strict routine was followed to ensure that I can maximise the potential from every visitor that visits their website.
For the most part, it began with the basics. Who is the client? What does their website offer? Then it got a bit trickier. What are the most common problems people have? What questions are they most likely to ask? Thankfully, our knowledge base is filled with information about the client, their services, their history, and more. And this isn’t just a catalogue of 10 or so FAQs, the knowledge base is an evolving resource that gives me the tools to progress any chat in the right direction and satisfy any guest enquiry.
I wasn’t expecting to learn it all, after all, the knowledge base is always accessible, but the more training I undertook, the more I found myself remembering. Once I’d covered the basics, I had chance to study real chats from the client’s website. This gives a great indication of typical questions you might be asked, the kind of tone that should be taken with the guests, and from there you can put yourself in the chat expert's shoes.
What would you have said? What information can you find regarding that? You challenge yourself to push the boundaries of the chat window and to be as much help as you can. As much help as you can be for the website visitor and the client. Once you think you’ve “mastered” a client, your knowledge is really put to the test as you take a “quiz” on the essentials of that client. Unless you get 100% it’s back to the drawing board, and topping up that information. Though passing the quiz doesn’t mean it’s the end of the training for that client.
I then went on to accept test chats from my colleagues and Team Leader. They really test your knowledge to the limits, posing as customers of all walks of life, and I found myself really challenged to think outside the box to engage with these visitors. Only when your chats are at the best that they can be do you move onto the next client, and the process starts again.
The variety of clients we work with, and the type of work they do, allow the opportunity to take knowledge not from one workplace, but a variety of industries and businesses. Rather than a sense of belonging to one company, you suddenly have a responsibility to various companies, each with their own goals and objectives. As a live chat expert, you stand as the “face” of many of those companies. You know that your words, and your personality are solely responsible for how a potential visitor will think of the company, and you begin to associate a brand loyalty with all of the clients you’re assigned too. Most importantly, as a “chatter”, your tone must vary from brand to brand, depending on the kind of image the client expects us to deliver.
Despite having access to our knowledge base, and of course the client's website, when it comes to locating information there is always someone there to help: the second screen (the internal chat room). It’s quietened down now, with everyone going about their daily routines, but an instant message to my team leader will always result in getting the information I need straight away. Who will answer my questions? Who will help me when I get stuck? Another question answered, all of my colleagues, accessible by the click of a mouse. Perfect.
Starting to chat
After 5 weeks, 200 hours, 2 tests per client and 15 test chats I’m approaching the end of my initial training. With all of our clients under my belt, I’ve had the opportunity to engage with some of our real clients' customers (after numerous test chat situations with my colleagues, of course!).
As you would expect, it’s the most rewarding part of the whole job. The first challenge is to be personable and approachable. Most visitors aren’t in a rush for any information; once they see you are a real person they are quite happy to engage, which makes meeting the client's goals possible . Visitors can’t see your face, they can’t listen to your tone of voice, so the real challenge comes down to how you can let your personality shine through your keyboard. My tip to success is this: all the information you need is provided, all you need is to be able to let your personality shine through your keyboard, and everything else will click into place.
Nerves: They’re gone now. They’ve been shaken away by the one thing that answered all my nervous questions, and that is “people”. People are the reason why this job is so rewarding, so engaging, and so fulfilling. People you talk to as you begin your working day, people you ask when you need help or advice, and people who need your help when they engage with a client. The whole process begins and ends with people. Real people. And that’s why in this job, you’ll never be alone, or needing help, or feeling stuck. In fact, quite the opposite!
Matthew is one of our Live Chat Experts. Matthew has been converting customers, generating leads and brightening customers' days for just over 5 weeks now. In that time he's delivered an outstanding customer satisfaction rating of 99.3% and generated 284 qualified leads for our partners, from 1,223 customer service and lead generation chats.
The Chat Shop's live chat outsourcing services go far beyond our competitors. Our experts aren't just given a list of FAQs to regurgitate. We empower our live chat experts with the knowledge and skills to match website visitors to a client's product or service. Our experts develop relationships between website visitors and clients. We enthuse customers to return time and time again. We deliver leads with detailed information far beyond a name and email address.
Ultimately we believe in Real People and Real Conversations. That's how Real Results are delivered.
Robotic responses from FAQs just don't cut it. Continuously looking for ways to improve and evolving our conversations to match client and visitor needs does.
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