We are living in the age of messaging. Besides communicating regularly by sending text messages we also reach for support or help by typing our questions to the chat bubble or submitting issue tickets.
Real time instant messages have become so popular, that they are taking over the place of cold calls or face-to-face meetings even in businesses.
Without seeing or hearing your customer it can be hard to understand their requests, current feelings regarding your product or service and to act accordingly.
“Reading between the lines, paying attention to the customers writing style and punctuation are essential in today’s real time messaging.”
What to look for in real-time customer support messages
- Formal/informal style
- Turn of expressions
- Interpreting emotions in 160 characters
- It’s all about timing
First of all the formality of the message sets the tone of the upcoming communication. Decide if the customer texts in a formal or informal style.
– Client introduces himself using his full name
– Filler words or text messaging lingos are left out
– No abbreviations
– No emojis or emoticons
– Formal tone
– Message is signed at the end of the text
– Added additional contact info, job title, company name, phone number etc
– Client asks question or requests help directly without introducing himself
– Smiley faces and other emojis are used
– Client shortens the text message by using abbreviation
– Message is not signed
If you receive a message in a formal style respond to it accordingly, using your full name and job title. You can get into offering details about the service or product and also include additional information. Avoid using informal communication style elements, it would be awkward for your customer to read your message signed with ‘Sincerely’ near a winking cat emoji. 😸
A question submitted by your customer in informal style can be a sign of need for urgent answer or solution. In these cases you can leave out the formality part and respond to it straight away. Also, these customers look for a more conversational experience like a fireside chat.
“Identify your customer’s style and way of speaking and adapt yours to it.”
Identify your customer’s style and way of speaking and adapt yours to it. Your customer should feel that his question has been heard and is being interpreted the way he meant it. Also if they are feeling comfortable speaking to you they will more likely come back or recommend your service/product.
The vocabulary used by your customer can tell a lot about the level of knowledge or information he got about your product or field of service. If he is familiar with specific or technical terms than you can go on and continue to respond with a matching style. On the other hand if you have to answer to a customer who isn’t that familiar with the product try to offer proactive information and useful explanations. This way he will feel that not only has received great support but gained new information as well.
“Real-time text messages lack both verbal and nonverbal cues that are essential in interpreting and expressing emotions and this can lead to miscommunication.“
Ok, it might be longer than 160 characters, but text messages lack nonverbal and verbal cues that are essential in interpreting and expressing emotions and this can lead to miscommunication.
To interpret emotions in real-time text messages look for:
– period: does their statements have a certain air of finality by using periods or leave things open without periods or by using 3 periods (…)
– exclamation points: one of the most valuable and dangerous punctuation marks. It can set the tone, show frustration or demonstrate interest
– semicolon: if your customer writes in a semicolon it means that he has though out and revised his message before sending it
– quotation mark: your customer quotes a certain thing or casts doubt
– emojis: your customer wants to bring the communication to life. Texting is a faceless way of communication, so using emoticons is the most useful tool to add feelings to it 😉
Timing is a critical piece in the real-time support puzzle. Support people should be ready to answer instantly and to offer effective solutions and advises in real-time. This simply leaves no place for hesitation or postponing.
All the magic consists of delivering the right solution to customers at the right time. This simply cannot happen without a great deal of product know-how.
Nowadays we are experiencing mostly message-based support and sales communication. Understanding your customers messages in real-time is crucial to be able to deliver quality support.
Finding the essential tones and signals with your customer is a matter of interpreting their text messages.
A fast speed of answering time and urgent solutions are required in every case.