Let’s get something out of the way first – I’m probably not the easiest person in the world to train! It takes a little while for me to get used to a new way of doing things, and each client we have here at The Chat Shop has a particular way they expect things to be done. And rightly so. Each brand has its own voice and processes, and we’re there to be an integral part of that brand’s experience.
That’s why the way my training was structured worked so well. By breaking it down, focusing on one client at a time, and allowing me a little time to practice on each, a potentially overwhelming task became much easier to handle. It would be easy for The Chat Shop to just dump everything about all of the clients in front of you and say: “There you go. Learn it by next month.” But that wouldn’t have worked – there’s too much to take in all at once.
Live chat training methods
Doing things this way also has the benefit of ensuring a new agent starts off with the easy stuff. Looking through the live chat archive might sound incredibly dull at first (because it is) but it’s also a great first step to handling actual chats. On more than one occasion, I found myself able to handle a request from a chatter which may not have been included in the Knowledge Base simply because I’d seen another agent tackle that issue in the past. Our Knowledge Base isn’t a gigantic FAQs database, instead it provides us with the foundation knowledge and techniques for progressing a chat to a solution.
By looking over each client’s website, and reading through the Knowledge Base, you do get a first impression of their company and what they’ll expect from you as a live chat agent. There’s no shortage of information – until you’re looking for a specific, obscure thing in response to a question, of course! But, for me personally at least, I tend to learn more by doing than I do by reading.
So it wasn’t until I really got stuck in to test chats, and started handling more than one chat at a time on more than one client at a time, that I really felt like I was learning the ropes. There’s only so much you can take in from reading and looking over how other people handle a client. It was only when I dealt with practice chats for the first time that I really felt like I was making progress. There were two important things that I didn’t really know just from the training and archive work alone – how would I be able to handle an actual chatter with an actual issue, and would I be able to handle multiple chats quickly enough to be satisfactory?
Once I had passed the thorough training schedule, tests and test chats, I was ready to go live! Before being able to go live on a client's website, all agents have to achieve 100% in 2 tests per client. My first few chats went well, and were reasonably straightforward. And it didn’t take long for me to feel confident to work on multiple chats.
There were still some teething problems, of course. But that’s to be expected when doing something new! It took me a little while to make sure I was getting the tone right – something which is, of course, highly subjective, and therefore not necessarily the easiest thing to address. In fact, this was probably the most important thing I had to work on during my training. The information side of things was alright. You can’t retain every single piece of information about a client, but between the notes I took, the Knowledge Base and the chatting techniques I had learnt, it was okay. But addressing something like this is a whole different story.
It started with my first Quality Assurance review, where one particular chat’s tone of voice was rated poorly by my Team Leader. It really dragged down my overall Quality Assurance score for that week. Up until that point I felt that I was managing with everything alright. There was plenty of work to do, but I felt that I had more or less understood what I needed to be doing. The bad Quality Assurance score led to a bit of an adjustment in that regard. It was followed up the next week by a similarly bad Quality Assurance report – meaning I had improved but still not enough for The Chat Shop’s high standards – so I knew at that point that I really had to work hard on this issue of tone. I made it a priority that next week, and that seemed to work.
At The Chat Shop you don't just have to be able to solve a visitor's issue or generate a lead for the client. You have to do it in the right way. You have to use your personality and do it all without a single script.
Without delving into specifics, there is a certain satisfaction to a properly-resolved chat, especially on a trickier client. Regardless of whether the chatter rates me as “good”, "bad" or has left without rating the conversation, if I come away from a chat feeling like I did my best to resolve the chatter’s issue, and more importantly that I was successful in doing so, that’s definitely one of the more enjoyable aspects of the job for me. Particularly if it was a complicated chat that took a longer time, and with multiple aspects to work on. Sorting these out successfully is definitely satisfying! Often a chatting website visitor may rate a chat as “bad” simply because they are still unhappy about their overall experience with the client’s brand. We still try our best to turn that experience around but sometimes it is outside of our control.
It was also interesting to come aboard at a time when both the company and the team I joined were making some changes. Since I started, my team has swapped one client for another, and taken on board a wholly new client. Doing the training for these clients at the same time as some of my new colleagues went some way to blunting the edge of the “new guy” feeling.
Overall, I’m very happy with the way things went. Only a few weeks ago (and a few hundred hours of training ago) I knew nothing of any of the clients, not to mention how our live chat software works or any of the procedures, and now I’m live – and that’s a testament to the hard work of all the people who trained me.
James is one of our Live Chat Experts. James lets his personality shine through in chats in order to keep both clients and their customers happy. In his first 7 weeks of working for The Chat Shop he has chatted with over 800 visitors and delivered a customer satisfaction rating of 98.4%.
The Chat Shop's live chat outsourcing services go far beyond our competitors. Our agents aren't just given a list of FAQs to regurgitate. We empower our expert live chat agents with the knowledge and skills to match website visitors to a client's product or service. Our agents 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.
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