The Psychology of Live Help Software


While live help software provides many benefits, the unique opportunities to make a psychological connection with the customer can dramatically affect your site’s ability to convert.

As we recently reported, bad customer service costs businesses $108 billion each year.

Yet most customers were very satisfied with their live help experiences. This is because live chat psychology allows your business to make deep, meaningful connections during your customer service interaction – whether your customers realize it or not.

Live help software is more than simply a way to decrease load on your customer support staff – it’s a way to make a real, meaningful connection with your customers and establish strong psychological bonds between you and them.

Live Help Psychology: Why Customers Love Chatting

According to social media masters at Buffer, there are three psychological needs customers have during customer service interactions:

  1. A personal touch
  2. Reciprocity and fairness
  3. Being treated like a VIP

Live chat software can fulfill each of these needs, leaving your customers feeling satisfied and positive about your business.

So what does live chat psychology look like in action? Here’s a breakdown.

Delivering a Personal Connection Through Live Chat

It’s probably obvious how live chat helps your business appear more personal to your customers. Because of the messaging tools your customers use on a daily basis, live chat experiences feel as familiar as chatting with a friend.

Here are some tips to making sure you leverage the full potential of live chat to deliver a personal touch:

  • Take on a deliberately professional or casual online customer service tone. (You can read more about choosing an appropriate tone here.)
  • Exchange names and use them during the conversation. Using your customers’ names in your communications makes them feel like they are being spoken to personally, creating a psychological connection between you and them.
  • Avoid miscommunication by taking time to think about responses and being clear. Remember, chat isn’t a phone call, so you have a few extra seconds to make everything just right.
  • Say thank you.

Check out our blog archives for more information on communicating personality in your live chats.

Using Chat to Demonstrate Reciprocity and Fairness

In simple terms, reciprocity means that when you show love and loyalty for your customers, they’ll show it back.

As Buffer describes, “Reciprocity has fascinating effects in the context of customer service. By going out of your way to love a customer, it creates a subconscious desire for them to return the favor. Reciprocity is something we all feel, and it’s the reason loyalty is so very valuable to a business.”

Here are some simple things you can do to show loyalty for your customers through your live help software:

  • Demonstrate interest in your customer’s interests. (In most cases, their interest is getting their problem resolved, but don’t be afraid to go above and beyond.) This can be as simple as writing, “That must be really frustrating – let me see how I can help get that fixed for you.”
  • Surprise them with unexpected upgrades or bonuses. Since the number of customers who use live chat is likely only a fraction of your total customers base, it may even be affordable to give priority upgrades to everyone who contacts your organization.
  • Always keep your promises. Train customer service representatives well so they don’t accidentally promise something your business can’t deliver – this leads to immediate resentment.

In this age of social media and viral videos, it’s very important to be loyal to your customers. Think about the recent backlash against large telecommunications companies and their customer service representatives. Certain customers are made promises that aren’t honored. Avoid this by acting genuine and loyal in your live chat communication.

How Live Help Software Allows You to Treat Customers Like a VIP

Finally, your customer should be treated like a VIP. Even though they may have been the 100th person your business has helped today, he or she needs to feel special.

The good news is applying a little live chat psychology in this way is easy. You can easily create dialog that makes customers feel like their specific request is receiving preferential treatment. As Beyond Philosophy writes,

Your customer experience should be deliberate. You effectively must deliberate over it and have a considered the conscious, subconscious and emotional impact of the experience you provide. The subconscious brain is a fertile garden to sow positive seeds. The mind is highly selective, processing millions of pieces of information each second, yet we remain largely unaware of this filtering mechanism.

By concentrating on delivering the right subconscious signals, you’re ensuring that your customers are emotionally engaged in a way that promotes customer loyalty and customer retention by way of an excellent customer experience.

Meet with your customer service representatives and ask them: what do customers like? What makes them feel like VIPs? What are ways we can make every customer feel special when they come chat with us?

Once you have these answers, craft your customer service experience scripts and experience around dialog that makes customers feel like they really are important to your business.

Implement These Suggestions Now

With an understanding of the psychology of live help, you can immediately begin improving your live chat experience. Make a plan today to deliver a personal touch, reciprocity, and the VIP experience, then watch your customer loyalty (and profits) soar.


Live Help & Self Perception

If you’re human, you’ve probably wondered how other people really feel about you. Do you think others see you the way you see yourself? If a close friend or family member decides to be brutally honest with you and tell you what they think about you – and it’s not what you want to hear – do you get angry? Do you get defensive?


“It is good to see ourselves as others see us.  Try as we many, we are never able to know ourselves fully as we are, especially the evil side of us.  This we can do only if we are not angry with our critics but will take in good heart whatever they might have to say.”  – Mahatma Gandhi

If you’re human, you’ve probably wondered how other people really feel about you.  Do you think others see you the way you see yourself?  If a close friend or family member decides to be brutally honest with you and tell you what they think about you – and it’s not what you want to hear – do you get angry?  Do you get defensive?

The same idea comes into play when thinking about your business and how a customer, or potential customer, perceives your business.  I’ll bet you think your business provides great customer service and that your customers are loyal and they love you.  But in reality, this probably isn’t the case.  Consider the fact that 80% of companies say they deliver “superior” customer service.  But only 8% of people think these same companies deliver “superior” customer service (Source: “Customer Service Hell” By Brad Tuttle, Time).  There appears to be a little bit of perception mismatch going on.

How do you, or your customer support representatives, deal with an irate customer that openly and honestly explains what they think of your company and your products?  Does your customer support staff get defensive when they hear something that they don’t want to hear about the company that makes it possible for them to feed their family?  Do you even provide a convenient opportunity for your customers and prospects to communicate with you about how they feel about your company?

As Mahatma suggests, the only way for us to know ourselves fully – or more fully than we currently know ourselves – is to accept honest feedback from others and use this information to continuously improve.  To do this, we need to have an open line of communication with our customers and prospects.  Considering that 75% of customers believe it takes too long to reach a live customer support person (Source: Harris Interactive) it appears that many of us aren’t even providing an effective mix of communication vehicles for our customers and prospects to use to access us.  Live help software can help here.

For those of you that don’t use live help software to facilitate online chats between your customers/prospects, and your customer service staff, you are making a mistake.  I know – you actively man your phone lines and you quickly respond to all emails that you get.  But I’m telling you this isn’t enough.  A Consumer Reports study found that 67% of customers hang up the phone out of frustration that they are unable to speak with a real person.

With live help software, customer service staff can handle 3-4 calls simultaneously so live chat agents are more productive and available than support staff that only take one phone call at a time.  And, with live help software, your website visitors now have a convenient option that they can use to tell you what they think and how they feel.  Don’t be afraid – hearing honest feedback, and even some constructive criticism, is a good thing.  With it, we can move closer to knowing our true selves – and better serve our customers.

The Three Types of Live Chats and How to Prepare For Them

There’s a science to customer conversations. It may not be rocket science, but knowing what the customer is hoping to accomplish by talking to you has an impact on the person and information you bring to the conversation. This is especially true for web-based live chat.

There’s a science to customer conversations. It may not be rocket science, but knowing what the customer is hoping to accomplish by talking to you has an impact on the person and information you bring to the conversation. This is especially true for web-based live chat.

Fortunately, there are 3 common types of live chat that can be planned for and staffed. This makes it a lot easier to build your live chat team to meet your specific needs and objectives.

Live Chat Best Practice: While the personnel requirements for each type of chat may vary, a well-formed live chat team still maintains a baseline requirement for qualities like courteousness and the ability to properly represent the brand and its voice.

Use this quick guide to the 3 primary types of live chat conversations to plan your team and live chat strategy.

Live Chat Type #1: Informational

The first, and most basic, live chat type is as simple as providing information and answering the questions of your site visitors. This type of live chat is oriented towards providing objective, factual information that your site visitors can use to make a decision (“What is the length of the warranty on these plasma televisions?”) or to take an action (“How do I provide a different shipping and billing address for my order?”).

This type of live chat, similarly, has the most basic of personnel requirements. Typically, the chat personnel have the resources and standard responses to handle the most common questions. More complex or uncommon questions can be redirected to a more specialized agent as needed. This type of chat is also well-suited for administrative assistants and other staff whose primary responsibility leaves them the freedom to handle basic live chats.

Informational Live Chat Agents…

  • Should be provided a list of common questions and answers
  • Should be well-versed in website functionality and company policy
  • Should have access to product specifications
Live Chat Type #2: Sales

There is a point in many live chats where information gathering changes to requesting recommendations. That’s when the discussion becomes a sales live chat. If this happens frequently on your site, you need to have live chat agents that are focused and trained on sales chats.

A sales chat agent will have all the information that an informational chat agent does, but will also have an innate talent or the training to learn the needs of a prospect and help them choose the best product for their situation.

Live Chat Best Practice: Many companies that require sales live chat agents will have their regular sales team handle live chats when they’re otherwise unoccupied.

Ideally, sales chat agents will also have ready access or knowledge of product comparison information. This kind of data is critical to helping customers choose the right product, and ensure their ongoing satisfaction afterwards.

Sales live chat agents should also have knowledge of current and upcoming promotions so that they can best help guide a customer to a paramount buying experience. Helping your customer find a great product with a promotional price is a fantastic way to create happy customers and increase sales conversion ratios.

Sales Live Chat Agents…

  • Should have access to the same information as informational chat agents
  • Should have access to product comparison information
  • Should have access to current and upcoming promotions
  • Should have the ability to understand and develop rapport with customers
Live Chat Type #3: Customer Service

The final type of live chat focuses on previous and current customers. Customer service live chats emphasize on helping those customers – usually to solve a problem they’ve had with their purchase. Handling these conversations, which can frequently be difficult and occasionally even heated, requires a specialty live chat agent.

A customer service live chat agent will typically have access to the most possible information – everything an informational and sales live chat agent has, plus additional information like customer and order records. On top of that, customer service live chat agents should be empowered to award (or at least request) refunds and authorize returns.

More important than having the right information available, a customer service agent needs to have the right temperament to help a frustrated customer through a vexing situation and bring the matter to a satisfying close. Because each request could take a long time to resolve, it’s best if your customer service chat agents are focused on customer service only so that their attention does not need to be divided.

Customer Service Live Chat Agents…

  • Should have access to the same information as informational  and sales chat agents
  • Should have access to customer and order records
  • Should have the ability to authorize/request refunds and returns
  • Should have the ability to manage difficult situations and customers
Build Your Live Chat Team to Suit Your Needs

While there are 3 types of live chat, that doesn’t mean you have to staff 3 different types of agent. It’s important to start by identifying the types of live chats you are most likely to handle and build your team to meet those needs.

If a sales or customer service live chat is going to be a rare exception to the normal informational chat, then it’s probably not necessary to have a dedicated sales/customer service live chat agent.  Just make sure that your informational chat agents can escalate or bring in someone to help with those more complex issues.

Building the right live chat team is just a matter of understanding what kinds of chats you’ll have and then arranging for the right people to handle each type.