Using Instant Messaging & Chat in Customer Service

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  • 0:03 Instant Messaging &…
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Stacey Taylor

Stacey Taylor currently teaches college business courses and holds an MBA degree.

More and more companies are servicing customers through instant messaging and chat. This lesson will discuss the soft skills that customer service chat agents should possess.

Instant Messaging & Soft Skills

For many of us, instant messaging was our first experience of having quick, real-time conversations. When instant messaging was introduced, it changed the way we communicated. It allowed us to communicate back and forth with friends and co-workers in real time. Instant messaging is no longer solely used by friends and co-workers. Businesses have jumped on the bandwagon and use instant messaging for servicing customers.

Online shopping has become a great convenience for many customers. Shopping for products and services are right at our finger tips. The only difference is there are no sales people to help if a question arises about a product or service. Thanks to instant messaging and chat, customers can speak to a customer service chat agent in real time, and get all of their questions addressed. In order for this customer service channel to work successfully, customer service chat agents will need to be equipped with certain soft skills.

Soft skills are personalized traits that allow individuals to interact and communicate with people effectively. Since face-to-face interaction is missing when communicating by instant messaging, it is extremely important for customer service chat agents to have the necessary soft skills to deal with customers efficiently. Let's take a minute to focus on a few important soft skills.


The tone of a customer service chat agent is a major component when using instant messaging and chat to service customers. Unlike a customer service phone representative, when using instant messaging and chat, tone can be difficult to understand. Let's use reading a book as an example. When we read a book, we tend to understand and feel the tone of each character because of the writing style. This is a skill that customer service chat agents should be able to convey as well. For example, if a customer asks if there are any coupons that can be applied to their order, the chat agent can respond with 'I have great news! You can receive 30% off your order using this coupon code.' The use of punctuation marks can demonstrate a person's tone through writing.

A customer service chat agent's tone plays an important role in a customer's perception. When chatting with customers, the words used to communicate should be meaningful. Therefore, it is important to communicate in a polite, empathetic, and professional way.

Starting the instant messaging and chat session with a personal greeting is a great way at being polite. Customers like to feel appreciated and special, so customer service chat agents should address them by name, while thanking them for reaching out. For example, 'Hello Sara, thank you for contacting XYZ Company. How may I help you?' is a great way to start off a chat. If the customer did not provide a name, it is OK to ask for it, 'Hello, who do I have the pleasure of speaking with today?' This shows the customer that you care and sets a positive tone for the remainder of the conversation.

If the customer starts the chat off with a complaint, this is where empathy should be displayed. For example, 'Hello Sara, I am really sorry to hear about the problems you are experiencing, but I am here to help. Let me look into a solution,' shows the customer you are sympathetic, understanding, and concerned.

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