24 February 2020

Best Practices for Digital Customer Service | Aaron Henriques

Digital customer service, such as text, email and live chat has exploded in the past few years. It allows businesses to interact with their customers more easily, in a way that’s quicker and more convenient for both parties. While highly beneficial in many ways, digital communication can present some problems, given that it’s more difficult to convey tonality and emotion through written messages. Luckily, these problems can be overcome by adhering to a few techniques.


Stay responsive

When using digital forms of communication, you’re able to multitask. This is a huge benefit in many ways, as you’re able to speak with multiple customers at once, or carry out admin tasks while speaking with them. This is good from the customer’s perspective too, as they’re also able to multitask, allowing them to communicate while at work or when busy.

However, multitasking can easily lead to you becoming distracted, resulting in the customer having to wait a long time for a response, or worse, being abandoned altogether.

People expect immediate responses from businesses – particularly if you’ve already started having a conversation. A customer talking through live chat will likely lose interest if you don’t reply within the minute mark, so be sure to maintain rapid responses, using canned messages where appropriate to help you do so.


Keep the customer informed

In line with staying responsive, be sure to update your customer as you deal with their enquiry. If you need some time to find something out, or if a process will take a few hours or days, let them know. Particularly for live chat, it’s important to be prompt in replies, so a simple “I’ll just find that out for you – would you mind waiting a few minutes?” will go far. It helps to prevent frustration and assures the customer that you’re still there.

You wouldn’t leave a customer waiting on the phone without telling them you’re putting them on hold – so don’t do it with digital channels, either.



Without the ability to convey tone of voice or use body language, it can be easy to come across as blunt, rude or disinterested.

Consider something as simple as asking for the customer’s name:

“What’s your name?” vs. “May I take your name please?”

The first may not mean to sound to rude, but it’s very easy to appear that way from the customer’s perspective. A simple “may I” prefixed onto the question, or a “please” on the end, helps it to sound much friendlier and more polite.

If appropriate for your business, try using emojis to convey tonality. A smiley face can go a long way, and help to express a positive, friendly vibe. Don’t go overboard on your use of emojis, though.


Imitate your customer’s language

When customer service is provided face to face, it’s often said that it’s good practice to mirror their body language and tone. Well, only if it’s positive, of course. This can help to build a relationship with the customer and allow them to feel more of a connection with you.

This isn’t entirely possible over digital communication, but you can imitate the way in which the customer is typing. If they use an emoji, use one back. If they keep it formal, it’s probably best to do the same.


Utilise digital tools

Digital forms of communication allow customer service to be taken up a notch. When in a phone call, it’s not possible to send documents, help guides or screenshots through the receiver, but this is entirely possible with digital communication methods.

The ability to exchange files can massively aid the customer, allowing them to share a screenshot of an error, or receive a help guide for the product they’ve just bought. These tools are there to help speed up customer service communications – so be sure to use them if needed. It can massively streamline the customer’s experience with your business.


Watch your grammar and punctuation use

Poor spelling and grammar can cause you to appear unprofessional and may suggest that you’re not able to help the customer properly. If you know your writing skills aren’t up to scratch, consider using a spell checker when typing messages to customers.

There are a few other grammar-related things to watch out for:

  • Ellipses: You may not think too much into your use of ellipses, but they can come across as very condescending or misleading…
  • CAPS: Using CAPS can appear as though you’re SHOUTING or are angry.
  • Exclamation marks: Exclamation marks can be good for conveying sincerity, such as “have a lovely day!” However, overuse can appear unprofessional.


Be human

Perhaps one of the most important tips is to be humanA study by Accenture found that 83% of customers prefer dealing with real people for customer service enquiries, and another study found that 50% of chatters left a chat when they believed they were talking to a bot. Use a real photo of yourself to convey authenticity and speak like a real person, rather than offering robotic service.


I hope these tips will help you in giving excellent digital customer service. If you have any other ideas, leave them in the comments below!

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