live chat agent at desk

Live Chat Customer Service: Best Job Ever or Cold, Lonely Gig?

By Natalie Winzer, iHire, LLC

Customer service professionals are needed virtually everywhere, and as the way consumers and companies interact evolves with technology, so does the nature of customer service jobs.

While in-person and telephone/call-center customer service positions aren’t going away any time soon or being completely replaced by robots (yet, anyway), there is a third career option if you’re tech savvy and enjoy solving customers’ problems: live chat agent jobs.

You would be hard pressed to find a major consumer goods or services company that doesn’t offer online chat support these days. The rise of online shopping and ecommerce can’t be denied and shows no signs of slowing down, so it makes sense that people would prefer to get customer service online as well.

Plus, according to a 2015 survey by Software Advice, 60% of millennials prefer online chat vs. traditional customer service channels.

What does it take to be a good online chat agent? Regardless of the work environment, there are some customer service skills that all support professionals should have:

  • Patience
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Critical thinking
  • Positive attitude
  • Knowledge of your company’s products/services
  • Focus on solutions

If the above list describes you and/or you’re an experienced customer service professional looking for a change of scenery, read on to see if a live chat job is right for you.


Must-Have Skills for Online Customer Service Jobs

It may go without saying, but a successful live chat agent must be comfortable with computers, able to type quickly and accurately (for example, The Chat Shop requires a typing speed of 80+, error free), and have strong written communication skills.

Additionally, you must be great at multitasking. Assisting multiple customers at once shouldn’t overwhelm you, and you’ll need the ability to gauge a situation appropriately. For example, while one customer’s account information is generating, can you quickly reset the password for another?

Shortcuts and templates are critical as well, so knowing which stock response to use when and keeping all of your resources organized will be essential to providing fast, effective online customer support.

You’ll also need to practice discretion when using “canned” responses, as it will quickly become evident to the customer if you aren’t carefully reading their messages.

Online chat support jobs require a certain kind of self-discipline and empathy as well to stay engaged and attentive to your customers. Don’t let the fact that you can’t see their faces or hear their voices lead you to be less concerned about their needs or forget that there is a human on the other side.

In other words, don’t throw away your active listening skills just because you aren’t face to face or on the phone with another person.


Why Live Chat Agent Jobs are Awesome

Perhaps the #1 perk of live chat agent jobs is you can work virtually anywhere.

Work from home customer service jobs are available in a wide range of industries, and some employers may provide you with everything you need – computer, internet connection, high-speed cables, etc. – as if you were in a traditional office.

Customers love live chat, too: no more multi-level phone menus, long wait times, or annoying hold music! Everyone expects instant results these days, and chat allows that.

Online chat interactions can be saved with 100% accuracy as well, benefitting customers as well as the customer service representatives that assist them.


Things to Think About Before Becoming a Live Chat Agent

While live chat allows for instant exchange of information, it may take you far longer to reach a resolution as compared to in-person or telephone-based customer service channels.

The customer on the other side of the screen may not type quickly, become distracted, or worse, lose connection and just disappear altogether. Plus, written messages can be misconstrued without the context of a voice, and if the customer’s initial question or concern isn’t very specific in nature, the discovery process will take extra time.

There’s also the simple fact that you may get lonely. Humans are social beings, and while you’re interacting with people all day long via chat, it’s not a replacement for face-to-face conversation.

As with any job, breaks are important in online customer service roles. Don’t forget to step away from the screen, get some fresh air, and reboot with some good old-fashioned human interaction.


Ready to explore customer service careers? Check out the openings available today on iHireCustomerService!

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