Online Chats are wonderful ways to provide customer service, except when they’re not wonderful ways to provide customer service. Note the partial chat transcript below. The company name has been replaced with STORE, and the location was changed to TOWN:
- STORE Bot at 9:54: Thank you. An agent will be with you shortly to start your chat.
- STORE Bot at 9:56: Mary T. has joined the conversation.
- Customer at 9:56: Hi there. I visited the TOWN STORE last night for this product: EMSCO GROUP 20-in W x 24-in L x 10-in H Earth Brown Resin Raised Garden Bed Item #48620 Model #2345D
- Mary T. at 9:57: Hello there! My name is Mary. I will be happy to assist you today!
- Customer at 9:57: Hi. Their inventory system said they had 8 in stock, but the employee looked for 25 minutes and only found 1 – it was used. If I order it off the website for pickup at STORE, how do I make sure I get a new one, and by when would it be available?
- Mary T. at 10:00: My apologies for the inconvenience. If on the website there is availability for being shipped it means that we have it available on the warehouse. You can ship it for free to the store the desired items.
- Customer at 10:01: Thanks. If I order today, by when would it be ready at STORE? Also, how/when will they notify me that it’s ready for pickup?
- Mary T. at 10:03: Thank you for waiting. I’ll be with you in just a moment.
- Customer at 10:04: ok
- Mary T. at 10:05: Yes! You will be receiving a notification when it is available by email.
- Customer at 10:05: If I order today, by when would it be ready at STORE? I’d like to get it by Mother’s Day – that’s why I ask.
- Mary T. at 10:06: May I have the item number so I can check?
- Mary T. at 10:07: May I please have your Zip code?
- Customer at 10:07: EMSCO GROUP 20-in W x 24-in L x 10-in H Earth Brown Resin Raised Garden Bed Item #48620 Model #2345D
- Customer at 10:08: ZIP CODE – The TOWN Store I noted earlier is my store
- Mary T. at 10:09: I’m sorry for the delay. I’ll be right with you.
- Mary T. at 10:11: Yes! We have availability for pick up today at TOWN STORE
- Customer at 10:13: I’m confused. I was there last night, and they didn’t have any in stock. Just to clarify (since they had issues finding it in the store even though it said there were 8 in inventory like I mentioned above), does that mean it can be delivered from a warehouse, or are you just seeing it in in-store inventory?
- Mary T. at 10:15: I’ll be right with you.
- Mary T. at 10:17: I’m sorry for the delay. I’ll be right with you.
- Mary T. at 10:19: We have 5 available at OTHER TOWN STORE, please call at (888) 555-1212 to check availability.
- Customer at 10:22: My focus was ensuring it was in the TOWN Store for pickup; I was trying to do a chat instead of calling to several stores myself and running into the same issue I had last night.
This was my experience. I had to give the product model twice, store location twice, repeat the request twice, ask by when it would be ready more than twice, and then was told I needed to call a different store to determine availability. Neither of us was – literally – speaking, and yet I didn’t feel she was listening to me.
When delivering chat-based customer service, or even e-mail customer service responses, ensure you thoroughly confirm what information the customer has conveyed and what request they’ve shared, so you address the need right the first time.
Ensure you listen, even when nobody’s speaking.