6 Live Chat Mistakes You Need To Avoid


18 Sep 2012


Live chat has become an important marketing and support tool. Almost every company using it finds that it pays dividends to include live support on their website. But what about the pitfalls? Here are six important live chat mistakes that no company should make.

live chat mistakes thunderstorm

1. Missing important chats

snapengage-statusNo matter which live chat provider you choose, you’ll have the ability to change your status. This works in exactly the same way as a normal instant messenger (IM) tool: you can set your status as Available, Offline or Away (there may be other choices too). Use this feature diligently: the worst thing you can do is appear available when you’re speaking on the phone or while having lunch.

Tip: Automatic settings are great, but be careful. Smartphone chat apps don’t always automatically change your status when you stop using your device. When your chat app is minimized, you may not realize that your status has not changed. Try to get into the habit of switching off chat manually on mobile devices, and take time to test your app to ensure the auto-away feature works as you expect.

2. A lack of market focus

Setting up your chat tool correctly is a key consideration when it comes to being proactive and using your time well. If you don’t offer your services to a particular country, set up your live chat tool so that it won’t display to people from those countries.

Quick fix: Most major live chat tools, such as Zopim and Olark, allow you to filter out countries and languages, so you have complete control over the visibility of your chat box.

3. Using auto-responders

autorespondersSetting up ‘canned’ responses seems like a great time-saving idea, but customers really don’t like it. Much like automated telephone menus and call center scripts, autoresponders make customers feel that you can’t spare the time to deal with them personally – a real no-no when it comes to customer service.

Quick fix: Less is more. Live chat boxes tend to be very small, and long, wordy auto responses will annoy your clients. Use auto-responders sparingly – if at all.

4. Losing your cool

Support is a difficult customer service task. Yes, customers aren’t always the innocent party, but customer service is all about handling problematic clients professionally. Live chat can be abused by people looking to waste time, start a fight or vent their frustration. If a chat seems to be veering off into time-wasting territory, politely end the conversation. And if a customer seems keen, don’t be pushy; it’s just as easy for a customer to end a live chat session as it is for them to initiate one, and that may lose you an important sale.

Quick fix: Offer alternative support channels, such as email or tickets, for clients who need to explain complex issues. And if you encounter one of those rare cases when a customer gets rude, feel free to free to block him without any further comment.

5. Lack of integration

Live chat shouldn’t be seen as a standalone support channel. If you’ve given someone personal attention in the past, they’ll appreciate the fact that you remember their issue, and you’ll save time if you can refer to their previous queries quickly.

Tip: Check integrations before you buy. Choose a tool which slots in with your existing helpdesk software or CMS.

6. Failure to improve

Most professional live chat tools offer transcripts and histories. Regularly check through your own chat transcripts to make sure you did the best you could. If you oversee a team of support staff, review their transcripts and make sure they’re passing on the best advice in the most appropriate and professional way.

Tip: Support should be seen as a cycle, not a one-way street. Use chat transcript data to feed back into your support strategy and reveal opportunities for improvement.


Live chat is powerful, but your own implementation of chat needs to be well thought through to be truly effective. For more general information please take a look at this introduction to live chat. And to find reviews of the best providers, please click here.

Please leave a comment if you have any questions!

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