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A Monthly Briefing for Optical Lab Owners and Managers

- September 2018 -

Dollars & Sense

Make What You Say Pay

Lab Notes

New Products

Spotlight

Dollars & Sense

Connecting with Customers Through the Keyboard

Kate Zabriskie

Customer: Hi, I’m having a problem with my bill. I’m being charged $50 more than what I expected. Could someone please help? I’m finding this very frustrating. Thank you.

Chat Agent: Hello! Glad you are chatting with me this morning! This is Matt. What can I do for you today?

Customer to Himself: Huh?

Well for starters, Matt, you could read what I typed before asking what you can do! Furthermore, you can take that smile off your face.

Providing exceptional service via chat involves more than simply choosing a technology platform. Chat is a distinct communication channel with its own set of rules, and organizations that choose to implement a chat system need to prepare their service representatives to us it effectively.

Step One

After you’ve chosen a chat platform or while that activity is in process, you should determine who on your team is well suited to serve customers online. Chat service providers should be able to type, and they should have a basic command of English spelling and grammar.

Step Two

Once you have a team in mind, you must identify some rules to guide their chats. The following questions are examples of basic considerations you should know the answers to before your representatives start typing.

How many chats should an agent handle at once? (In the beginning, nobody should attempt more than one, and even experienced agents shouldn’t divide their attention among more than three.)

What topics can and can’t be addressed via chat? Depending on your industry, regulations may limit what your representatives can and can’t say.When will you move customers to a different mode of communication if chat is not appropriate?

Step Three

Sometimes organizations implement chat, and the tone of what’s typed takes on a stilted or off-brand look and feel. For that reason, it’s important to think about what on-brand messaging looks like before rolling out the chat platform.

How should a chat start if a customer has already shared information? What words and phrases align with your brand? What words and phrases should providers avoid?

How should representatives address angry or frustrated customers? In what way should greetings differ?A good way to start thinking about your organization’s look and sound is to start chatting. Visits sites that use chat. Think about each experience: what you liked, what you didn’t, the brand you felt, and so forth.

Step Four

Be prepared for the obvious. Anyone who has worked in service usually starts to notice patterns. For example, if the provider is an online retailer, close to the holidays the organization may receive more inquiries about delivery times. If the provider is a utility, representatives may realize they receive more inquiries about billing on certain days of the week.

The point is to plan for the expected. Just as telephone service agents in most industries should know how to handle the top 20 or 30 customer requests without having to reference a lot of documentation, the same is true for chat. Consistency is essential. This is especially true when it comes to the basics.Before being set loose with a keyboard, providers should go through both systems training and roleplays that address common inquiries.

Step Five

Determine the extent to which you wish to use canned responses. Pre-written text has its plusses and minuses. On the plus side, it’s quick, it’s not written in the moment, and it’s had the opportunity to be proofread by one or more people. On the other hand, canned text can sound canned. Furthermore, representatives sometimes choose pre-written responses that don’t get to the heart of what a customer is asking.

So what’s an organization to do? The answer to that question varies. No matter the option chosen, canned text should sound conversational. If you wouldn’t say what’s written in the course of natural speech, it probably isn’t right.Chat is supposed to be a dialogue. It’s not a brochure, the text from a website, or worse still, verbiage from a policy or legal document.

One way to help maintain a conversational tone is to keep your text short. Long sentences usually equate to a longwinded or unnatural feel.

A good place to source potential pre-written responses is from your representatives’ actual chats. If your organization is like most places, some people will show a natural gift for chat. Why not leverage their strengths and skills?

Step Six

Learn from your failures and your successes. When service goes wrong, most first-rate organizations address the shortcomings. Beyond fixing what’s broken, the best organizations also invest time in figuring out what went right and why. They then replicate the good.

As with any service interaction, chat can go well, or it can go poorly. The key is monitoring, course correcting, and standardizing success.

Providers and their supervisors should regularly review chats. What can we leverage? Where are the opportunities? What was on-brand? What was off-brand? The questions are essentially endless.The trick is to systematically ask and answer them. The more methodically you evaluate your chats, the quicker you will capitalize on what works and eliminate what doesn’t.

Step Seven

Chat training is not a one-and-done activity. Needs change, technology evolves, and staff turns over. Ideally, organizations should focus on one or two best practices a week, they evaluate the pre-written text twice a year, and they spot check transcripts daily.

Chat is no longer a novelty, and more customers expect their service providers to offer it. No matter where your business is in the chat-implementation process, there is always room to improve the way you connect through a keyboard.

Kate Zabriskie is the president of Business Training Works, a Maryland-based talent development firm. Visit businesstrainingworks.com to learn more about chat customer service training.

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New Products

Transitions Optical Introduces New Educational and Marketing Resources

To help eyecare professionals (ECPs) build excitement and educate patients on the new brand and lens offerings, Transitions Optical has created several new educational and point-of-sale tools.

The materials include information on how to dispense, style and communicate about the modern and technology-savvy brand. Centered around the launch of Transitions Signature lenses style colors and Transitions XTRActive style mirrors, ECPs can now order a custom launch kit at www.TransitionsPRO.com/freestyle.

ECPs can leverage the brand rejuvenation and style colors and style mirrors in their practice by selecting from the following resources for their kit:

•    Patient Brochures: This tool presents the entire family of Transitions® lens products and revitalized messaging to patients.
•    ECP Information Sheet: Built to help ECPs communicate the benefits of Transitions lenses, this resource outlines the differences between products.
•    Transitions Style Collection Guide: Authored by Transitions Change Agent Sheena Taff, the Transitions Style Collection guide gives ECPs a step-by-step look at how to talk to patients about the latest trends in eyewear, and how to pair their frames with style colors and style mirrors.
•    Lens Swatches: Complete with the four style colors and six style mirrors lens options, ECPs can now demonstrate what these new lenses looks like both activated and unactivated.
•    Dispensing Mat with Inserts: Help inform your patients on the new style colors and style mirrors lens options with three different dispensing mat inserts.

The new brand resources can be viewed online and downloaded at www.TransitionsPRO.com/freestyle. Additional downloadable resources include, a Light Under Control video loop, Transitions lens dispensing tips, FAQs and posters for style colors and style mirrors.

Satisloh Event at VEW

"Beverages and 'bots" will be the focus of a Satisloh event at Vision Expo West.

The company will be presenting on its Lab 4.0 solution and how it "helps labs become smart factories. It will also be showcasing its Express-AR automated AR coating system.

The event at VEW will be held on.Thursday, September 27th at 4:00 PM at booth LP5065 in the exhibit hall. It will include live robot demonstrations of automated sectoring and desectoring.

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Focus On...

Propelling Optical's Smart Tech Era

LABTALK

How are successful optical lab's responding to today's consumer-driven economy and the needs of their ECP customers? The annual Modern Lab event at Vision Expo West, presented by Vision Monday and LABTALK, will shed some light on this important question.

Jobson Optical's Lenses & Technology Editor, Andrew Karp, and a panel of lab experts, will discuss how labs are implementing new systems and technologies to improve service and remain competitive. Attendees will also get an exclusive look at the results of a Vision Monday-Vision Council study that examines the threats and opportunities facing labs today.

The event will be held at Vision Expo West in Las Vegas on Thursday, September 27th, from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. and will be followed by a reception from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

As seating is limited, please register in advance at www.visionmonday.com/modernlab.

The event is sponsored by Schneider, Coburn, Filtertech and UltraOptics.

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Brian Dunleavy, Editor, LabTalk/LabAdvisor

Brian is the Editor of LabTalk. He covers wholesale laboratories, lab systems, other ECP news and features/coverage. Contact Brian at [email protected].

Copyright © 2019 LabTalk. All rights reserved. Read more at LabTalkOnline.com/LabAdvisor

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