FeaturedSocial Media

The Psychology of a Good Live Chat Conversation

What can the study of psychology tell us about having a successful live chat with a customer care representative? It turns out a lot. Customer service, including live chat, is about more than just answering inquiries promptly and correctly. These tasks can be accomplished by robots and knowledge bases, respectively. Your primary goal is to demonstrate to consumers that you care about them by going above and beyond to assist them.
As a result, I read three recent Psychology Today articles to find out how psychology may help you be better at live chat support, and I talked with representatives to obtain real-life instances of both successful and unsuccessful live chat interactions.

Here’s what I found:

The psychology

There is a psychological phenomenon known as the “motivation trap,” which is coined by medical doctor, psychologist, and executive coach Russ Harris

But, as author Rubin Khoddam points out, “While you’re waiting on motivation, motivation is waiting on you.”

The motivation trap is an excuse to stay still, and it prevents you from reaching your full potential.

What’s the solution to the motivation trap? It’s simple: do something anyway. Psychologists have found that when you are proactive regardless of how you feel when you in essence force yourself to act, the feeling of motivation will actually follow your behaviour.

The live chat application

So, how do you put this into practice in a live chat environment? Preventatively reach out and engage with website visitors by offering to have a live chat session with them. The use of live chat software without a per-conversation fee is beneficial. Unlimited conversations are included in Olark’s price, as an example.
Kevin Gao, creator and CEO of live chat platform Comm100, suggests that you determine which sites might most benefit from a better conversion rate and try elevating your chat widget automatically to provide assistance. Wait between 30 and 60 seconds after a visitor has been on the website before making an announcement so as not to disturb them.

‘Customers won’t always start the chat discussion,’ Gao says. Identifying those who may need assistance and bringing up the chat window with them will be a priority. Customers may reject the live chat option, but that’s okay. Even if you just offer to talk, you’ve already shown your kindness.”

You can also be proactive in offering solutions.

For example, Jordan Vidra, a customer experience team member at Homage, was talking to a customer named Katie who had ordered a limited edition Father’s Day tee from the company. “Mistakes do happen sometimes with fulfilment. Unfortunately, she was sent the wrong tee,” Vidra says.

Katie had simply stated the problem, without proposing any rectification or solution, so Jordan proactively offered to send the correct tee and a prepaid way to return. Katie was happy with that solution.

The psychology

Anxiety is often blamed for everything from poor job performance to poor health. But according to new research, anxiety isn’t all bad. In fact, if you harness your anxiety, it could actually improve your performance.

The live chat application

If you get anxious when strangers talk to you, or when they ask you hard questions or get upset, you probably aren’t going to be doing customer service live chat long. But even the coolest customer service cucumbers sometimes get that sweaty palms feeling.

Here are some tips to harnessing your anxious energy in a live chat scenario:

Don’t pretend you’re not feeling anxious or downplay what you’re feeling. Instead, accept, embrace, and acknowledge your emotions. Denying your feelings “will reinforce to you that anxiety is bad and experiencing it will harm you,” says Amy Morin in Psychology Today.

  • But don’t let it stop you from acting

You may wish to put a stop to the discussion if a client becomes irate or agitated, either by providing canned responses, passing the consumer along to another agent, or just terminating the chat altogether. You must resist the temptation at all costs. Instead, recognise your feelings, but keep in mind that feeling worried isn’t a guarantee of failure. In fact, it has the potential to fuel your next action.

“You can still succeed when you’re nervous. Building mental strength isn’t about feeling calm all the time. Instead, it’s about feeling anxious and taking action anyway. Being productive, even when you’re anxious, will help you develop confidence in your ability to handle discomfort,” Morin says.

Successful people take action, even when they don’t feel like it.

For example, Shelly Weaver, customer loyalty at Tuft & Needle, says one action they take is trying to go into each chat assuming positive intent. “When a customer enters a chat with scepticism and/or frustration, we try to empathize with their situation, acknowledge their concerns, and humanize the chat interaction,” Weaver says.

  • Manage your anxiety levels

Just though anxiety may make you feel more energised doesn’t imply you want to experience it more than is required. Eliminate as much ambiguity from your work as possible to minimise stress. Prepare a script that you can fall back on if things go wrong. You should also have access to a well-populated knowledge base so that you don’t spend time looking for solutions.

Do you know the proper protocol for handling an irate customer?

“If a conversation continues to go in a negative direction, we encourage the customer to reach out to us via phone call,” Weaver says. “While we are able to turn most negative chats around, there are instances where taking the conversation offline is best to reach a resolution.”

Knowing and being educated on best practices reduces the amount of guessing and worry in your profession. As a result, if anything goes wrong, you’ll be prepared to address it rather than second-guessing your decisions.

The psychology

Well, this one doesn’t have to be stretched very far to apply to live chat. “You need a somewhat flexible strategy to cope with annoying people,” says Michael Karson PhD, J.D.

So what are your eight main options?

  • Fight
  • Fly
  • Freeze
  • Surrender
  • Holding your ground
  • Strategize
  • Meta-communicate
  • Self-reflect

So, how well do they function for live chat? Fighting, flying, or freezing are generally not things you want to undertake. Fighting with your customers, abandoning the discussion, and neglecting your clients can only get you fired. Surrendering may be an effective strategy in many situations. I’d advise going into discussions prepared and eager to do everything to flip a customer’s frown upside down if it’s cheaper than replacing them. Remember that the cost of a lost client is equal to the sum of the customer’s typical monthly recurring income and your cost per acquisition.

However, if the customer is being unreasonable and can’t be made happy for less than the cost of replacing them, you may need to hold your ground and not give in to a customer’s demands. An agent who’s successfully holding their ground “insists on not being annoyed, on neither caving nor avoiding, in short, on going about your business,” according to Karson.

Meta-communication is trying to fully understand not just the other person’s request, but their ultimate goal in making it. “Being mindful about exactly what a customer needs is a huge factor in successfully turning an interaction around,” Weaver says. “We always want our customers to feel valued and heard regardless of what channel they reach out through.” Self-reflection is also key to successful customer care. For example, with Katie, Vidra acknowledged the mistake on their end before taking any other action. He even made a joke about the two tees not being the same.

Katie: He got the “Columbus Recreation and Parks” shirt instead of the “I’m Resting My Eyes” one. Jordan: Hmm really odd, they aren’t even close to each other, ha ha!

This helped Katie feel heard. Toward the end of the conversation, Katie said, “You’re the best, thank you!”


The most important thing I learned from these three articles on Psychology Today is that you don’t have to be calm or driven to be effective in live chat support or in life. It’s more important to learn how to be proactive even when you don’t feel like it. What did you learn the most from this? Leave a comment and let me know what you think. And don’t forget that having the tools to assist you succeed in customer service live chat is another essential to success.

Show More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Back to top button