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As a Shopify store owner, you have found the need to streamline your customer service as your business grows. But there are plenty of options available for a small business like yours and each come with complications.

Composure can be a tricky thing to master on the phone while continuity is the trick when corresponding with visitors via email. The beauty of live chat is it is the best of both live interaction and methodical controlled communication. So you can represent your company both instantly and with your best foot forward.

As you begin your customer service in live chat, you must realize no two chats will be exactly the same and as a result, difficult situations can arise from questions you may not immediately have answers for,sa to abusive visitors. But if you familiarize with the 7 basic types of chats you can be assured that you are prepared for almost anything a visitor might throw your way.

I for one know that if I were going to embark on such an endeavor, I would like to be as prepared as possible for whatever was coming my way next. We at Live Chat Ninjas handle and sort through more than 4000 chats a month. Using our vast expertise we sort our chats into 7 different types. If you own a Shopify store or are part of the small team that handles your live chats all by yourself, this guide will help you categorize chats you encounter every day.

We have separated the 7 chat types into 3 categories…

Pre-salePost-saleThe Rest
  1. General
  2. Lead
  3. Sale
  1. Post-sale
  2. Angry
  1. Time-wasters
  2. Inquiries

PRE-SALE CHATS

Pre-sale conversations are where you can turn the keyboard into money. Converting a general chat into a lead or a lead into a sale is verifiable customers and money for your pocket. Failing to convert your general to a lead, failing to follow-up a lead or poor customer service at checkout can literally cost you money, immediately.

1. General Chat

A general chat is typically polite, pleasant and smooth for both parties as positivity flows from both sides. This is, of course, a relationship you will want to nurture during your live chat.

Sarah is a young college student, finals are over and she has decided she is going to reward herself for passing all her class this semester with a matching purse and wallet. Sarah has visited your site, this is her first visit and she is comparing your site to others like it as well as the stores in her local mall. You greet her via live chat. She immediately compliments a product directly showing moderate interest in it. You don’t know whether or not she will buy now or in the future.

Your chat may look like this:


John (CSE)
Hello, I am glad to see you on our site today. How can I help you?
Sarah
Hi, John. I was looking into your shipping options and for your beautiful leather purses. I want to know how long it would take to arrive and how much it would cost.
John
Great! We ship anywhere in the US and the order takes 7-10 business day. Shipping varies based on the purchase amount. Was there a specific purse you were looking at?
Sarah
I love the teal with brown trim, medium handbag and the matching wallet.
John
Would you be interested in free shipping today?
Sarah
Oh no, I am just looking around right now and I was curious.
John
I understand. Would you mind leaving your contact details? We can send you any offers we might have that you can use on your purse.
Sarah
I’d rather not. I’ll get back to you when I am ready.
John
Sure, not a problem. Just shop around and let me know if you need any help. I’ll be right here.
Sarah
Sure. Thank you.

In this conversation, Sarah was not converted into a lead or a sale as her status as a customer is still uncertain. She is potentially interested in making a purchase in the future but has not left any contact information to follow up with, so she cannot be considered a lead.

General chats can be converted into leads or sales if you manage to steer them in the right direction. If a visitor is reluctant to become a lead or a sale, don’t push them too hard it could change how they view the company and turn them off the sale completely.

What You Should Do:

  • Inquire on their status as a current or future buyer
  • Make an offer to convert them, either a coupon or ask them for contact details
  • If the visitor is not interested in any of these options, politely thank them again and reassure them that you are there for them if they need anything else.

2) Lead Chat

A lead chat is any chat with a person who is planning on a purchase, not right now, but in the near future, sometimes, eventually. These are highly beneficial correspondence when you chat with these people.

Greg is a chef in his free time. He cooks at home and likes to have people over. He knows what he is looking for generally in his cookware and his research has landed him on your website where he has spent time comparing your products and even your company to competitors. You make contact with him via chat and he is ready with questions, but he is not prepared to make the purchase at this moment.

Your conversation may go like this:


Sam (CSE)
Hello, I am glad to see you on our site today. How can I help you?
Greg
I am comparing your pans with a number of other ones I have found. I understand there is a non-stick ceramic coating, but what is the material underneath the coating?
Sam
I’m glad Greg. The material underneath is the highest quality aluminum, the ceramic coating is a full quarter inch thick and covers the cooking surface completely. Are you looking into a piece or a set?
Greg
I am looking into different large sets. And I am curious to whether the sets can be shipped to a business instead of a residence.
Sam
Of course, we ship anywhere in the United States.
Greg
Cool, nice to know that.
Sam
🙂 Would you like help placing an order today?
Greg
Not today. I am not ready to make this purchase yet.
Sam
Not a problem. Would you like to leave us your contact information so we can send you updates and offers?
Greg
Sure. greg@xxx.com
Sam
Thank you, I have received your information. Is there anything else I can help you with today?
Greg
No, thank you. You have been very helpful.
Sam
I’m glad that I helped you out. Have a nice day Greg!
Greg
Sure, you too.

Greg has expressed a decided interest in purchasing, but not intent on making a purchase today. Keeping in touch with him via the information he provided. Greg is a valuable lead.

Leads can be converted into sales if you can chat them up enough and convince them this is the right time to buy. But, there is a balance, come on too strong and they are liable to change their mind about buying through your company altogether.

What You Should Do:

  • Thank them for their interest and answer all questions as best you can.
  • If you don’t know an answer allows 30 seconds of research time if you still don’t know to take their information and tell them you will find an answer.
  • Offer a discount if they are willing to but right now.
  • Encourage action i.e. like your Facebook page or subscribe to a newsletter

3) Sale Chat

A sales chat is a chat that happens with a visitor who is buying right now. They have questions they want to be answered or are experiencing difficulties during the checkout process. These chats may have frustrated or confused visitors.

Janet knows the weather is changing. She is looking for a sundress that she loves and has found what she is looking for on your site. She is ready to place an order for the one she wants. You make contact with Janet immediately before she puts in her order through your site. She has questions and concerns about her order.

Your conversation might look like this.


Lee (CSE)
Hello Janet, looks like you’re about to buy? Ping me if you need any assistance.
Janet
Yes, I am glad you are here. I want to order this dress, but I was wondering how true to size the item holds. I don’t want to order one too small or too big. What are the number of sizes for a medium in this size?
Lee
First, let me say thank you for shopping with us. A medium in this dress is the equivalent to a US size 8/10.
Janet
Thank you so much. That helps me clear that up.
Lee
Of course, glad to help. Do you have any other questions, before you complete your order today?
Janet
If I order today, when can I expect my order to arrive?
Lee
Well that depends Janet. We offer multiple options for shipping including standard which is delivered 7-10 days from when orders leave the warehouse, business which is handled in 4-7 days and express which arrives in 2-3 days. Is this order one that you need before a certain time?
Janet
No I was just curious because I really love this dress and would like it here as soon as I can get it.
Lee
Choosing express shipping will have it to you in 2-3 business days. Do you need help in the ordering process? Or have any other questions I can help you with today?
Janet
No. Thank you though. You were a big help. I am placing my order now.
Lee
Awesome! Please go ahead 🙂

Here Janet is buying right now. Making contact during her order ensures she is knowledgeable about her items and what to expect in shipping. She completed her order during this interaction and this would be a good place to mention offers you have running or upsell. She may have further questions in regards to the final actions she may be required to take.

What You Should Do:

  • Thank them for their decision to purchase.
  • Answer product related questions before the order and any order related questions as they move through the purchasing process.
  • Do your best to encourage and close the sale. If the visitor asks, offer any available coupon codes.
  • After purchase, thank the visitor again.
  • Explain the website’s return and assurance policies, if there are any.
  • Tell them how awesome they are and let them know you are still there for them.

POST-SALE CHATS

Post-sales chats are exactly what they sound like chats that happen after a person has bought something through your site.

4) Post-Sale Support

This is a conversation with someone who has already made and received their purchase.

Daniel has already bought an item from the website and he has received it. But he is having issues with it, he can’t seem to figure out how to turn it on. He is frustrated a little, but he is not angry or inconsolable. He logs on to your website to read the product details again. You make contact with him during this process.

Your conversation might go like this.


Sandy (CSE)
Hello, I am glad to see you on our site today. How can I help you?
Daniel
I received my GPS I ordered in the mail, yesterday. I plugged it in to charge, but it still won’t come on.
Sandy
I am sorry for the inconvenience caused Daniel. Switch the device to rest and off then plug it in a switch it to ON. Did that help?
Daniel
Yes! Thank you. The light has come on for charging now.
Sandy
Great! Is there anything else I can help you with today?
Daniel
No but thank you.
Sandy
If you have any other questions just give me a ping, I will be here.

The goal in talking to Daniel is customer satisfaction and repeat patronage. He has already made a purchase and our goal now is to ensure that he is happy and comfortable with the company as a whole. Daniel knew his problem and the situation was solved quickly with no casualties.

What You Should Do:

  • Investigate the problem they are facing and listen to everything they have to say
  • Do whatever you can to help them
  • Refer them to the next level of customer support if you are unable to solve their problems

5) Angry Chat

Angry chats take place with a past customer (post-sale), who has a legitimate complaint, but for some reason has become overly frustrated over the situation. Sometimes these customers are inconsolable. We have all been this person at some point.

Trinity has placed an order through your website. She has not received her order over the course of two weeks. Longer than was expected and longer than she was told, she gave it a couple extra days, but now her sister’s bridal shower is impending, like this week and she doesn’t have a present. She is upset and has come to your website with the intention of contacting your company about the lack of receipt.

Your conversation goes like this.


Lauren (CSE)
Hello, I am glad to see you on our site today. How can I help you?
Trinity
I am here trying to find out what is going on with my order.
Lauren
Do you have your order number?
Trinity
Yes, my order number is (####). But I have already checked and the only thing it says is that THE ORDER HAS SHIPPED. What does that EVEN MEAN??
Lauren
I am sorry you are going through this. I understand your frustration. Shipped means it has left our warehouse and is in the hands of our carrier.
Trinity
Sooo, What You Are Telling Me is That That YOU don’t have my order AND I DON’T HAVE MY ORDER and You CAN’T DO ANYTHING???
Lauren
No, Trinity I am sorry you are going through this. I am going to see if I can get your order’s tracking number and I am going to find out where your package is and what we can do.
Trinity
REALLY what could you be able to do with another NUMBER? My party is in THREE DAYS!
Lauren
Three days, we may have time to do something about your situation. Give me a minute or two to look up your package.
Trinity
FINE I WILL WAIT….
Lauren
Ok I have your tracking number and located the package in Arizona. The package is marked with delivery failed. Would you like the tracking number so you can call the post office about attempting another delivery or picking up your package?
Trinity
WELL, YEAH I want the only thing that is going to give me access to my order.
Lauren
Yes, of course. Your tracking number is (###), you should be able to track and access your package with that number.
Trinity
Ok, but I am still very upset about this whole ordeal.
Lauren
I understand, these were circumstances outside of the company’s control and I apologize for any inconvenience.
Trinity
Bye…

Trinity is upset and with good reason, but she can be consoled, wants to take steps to correct her situation and is not abusive with her language. She is simply an angry visitor.

What You Should Do:

  • Listen to this visitor’s complaint and direct them to the best place to get help.
  • Offer an apology for the inconvenience they have experienced
  • Answer any questions this person has and help find a solution as best you can
  • Thank them for their patience and time
  • Follow through with the other department to ensure this customer is taken care of

THE REST

6.) Time Wasters

Time wasters are just who they sound like they are. They have no goal, they are not interested in products, assistant or anything really other than being a waste of time and possibly belligerent.

Joey is on your website. He is chatting with you, but you cannot seem to get a quality interaction from him. He usually asks unrelated questions and sometimes abusive.

Your conversation might go like this.


Ann (CSE)
Hello, I am glad to see you on our site today. How can I help you?
Joey
Where are you from?
Ann
We are a Michigan based company. Is there something I can help you with?
Joey
How old are you?
Ann
I’m sorry, that is not relevant. Is there a product on the website you have questions about?
Joey
Your picture is super-hot.
Ann
If you have questions about the website or products I would be glad to assist you.
Joey
Talk to me dirty?
Ann
Have a nice day Joey!

Joey isn’t having the same conversation you are and is probably looking for some sort of rise. But he is not a conversation you need to nurture or attempt at converting. He is a waste of time.

What You Need to Do:

  • You do not have to tolerate abuse
  • To establish a chat with this person is, in fact, a waste of time, make at least two attempts to steer a conversation to a useful direction, perhaps asking if they have questions on any products.
  • If there is no indication they are doing anything but wasting time, politely end the chat.

7) Inquiries

Inquiries come from other companies or individuals looking to negotiate business.

Timothy is an independent contract worker who works in advertising. He has an inquiry about who he might get into contact with to discuss his proposal further. You can only direct his inquiry to the appropriate department if you’re an agent and if you’re an owner, you know what to do.

Your conversation might look like this:


Rachel (CSE)
Hello, I am glad to see you on our site today. Is there anything I can help you with today?
Timothy
Yes actually. I am a freelance advertising agent and would like to talk to someone about improving your company’s online presence in a few areas.
Rachel
I am glad you are taking an interest in our company directly. For HR inquiries contact them at this email (email). Is there anything else I can help you with today?
Timothy
No, Thank you for your help. I will contact them directly.
Rachel (CSE)
Good. I will be here, if you have any other questions please let me know.
Timothy
Sure, I will!

Timothy’s interaction in the chat window is short because chat support is not the department he is looking to interact with.

What You Should Do:

  • Inquiries are not in the realm of customer service, transfer them quickly and politely to the appropriate department.

As a Shopify store owner, these are the situations I am sure that you have come across and if not, they are coming. That is a sure thing. To improve your company and customer satisfaction, establishing effective customer service is going to be a big step.

For the situations listed above, live chat is the best, easiest way available for handling incoming customer service interactions. It is instant, friendly and offers a first-line for sorting through the types of interactions that come in. Not only that, but while using chat as your primary customer service platform, response time goes up and the number of people required to manage customer service goes down.

Divide your weekly and monthly chats into these 7 categories to create reports and gauge the type of visitors your website is attracting. Pay special attention to leads and sales to see how live chat customer support improves conversion. You can then make adjustments to best serve your customer base and your company.

So, that is the list, the 7 chats that all live chats can be sorted into and basic day-to-day guidelines on how to handle such situations.

What do you think? Do you know of a chat type that I didn’t cover here? do let me know in the comments.

I would also love to know how you’re currently managing your live chats on your Shopify store!

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