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Tips for Hiring and Training Agents to Support Chat

Connecting to server…

You: Does the general public disappoint you?
Applicant: yeah
You: Is it because they are unable to correspond in a coherent way?
Applicant: what?
You: Does the lack of “people skills” most people display online cause you to lose faith in humanity?
Applicant: I don’t understand you. please speak in simpler way…
You: Let me put it to you this way…
You: wat up 2tday? Mondayz are the wurst
Applicant: yup X

For obvious reasons, you will want to pass on this applicant for your chat team. The chat dialogue above highlights one of the challenges of hiring the right chat agent. Many applicants are comfortable using the chat medium in a social context but not at work.  To have the best success with the chat medium, hiring and training your agents properly will be the key.

Hiring Tip #1- Use a Role-Play to Chat with the Applicant and Score the Chat

Just as you would do behavioral based interviewing for a phone agent, you can do the same thing when screening a chat agent. Early on in the interview process, you should conduct a chat where you pretend to be a customer from the applicant’s past. Here are some things to focus on during the chat.

  • Building Rapport- Did the applicant build rapport through the chat?
  • Asking specific probing questions- Did the applicant keep the conversation flowing with specific questions?
  • Using Professional and Proper Grammar- Did the applicant avoid using jargon and speak professionally?
  • Being Responsive- Did the applicant respond in a reasonable time frame? Waiting more than 30 seconds can be frustrating for a customer.
  • Painting a Picture of What the Applicant is doing- It is important to let the customer know what you are doing when researching issues with phrases like  “I am checking for you.”
  • Solving the Problem- Did the applicant produce first chat resolution by solving the problem right the first time?
  • Closing and Summarizing- Did the applicant attempt to close if there is a sales opportunity and summarize the chat to avoid confusion?

Create a scoring system for the chat and use the chat role play as one of your data points for the hiring decision.

Hiring Tip #2- Have The Applicant Review a Prior Chat Transcript and Provide Feedback

It is a good idea for screening new applicants and for current chat agents to review chats. For the applicant, it is best to find a chat transcript that includes strengths and opportunities and hope that the applicant can identify them. Here are some things to evaluate.

  • Did the applicant identify the positive features in the chat?
  • Did the applicant identify the opportunities in the chat?
  • Did the applicant recommend alternative dialogues for the chat?

Hiring Tip #3- Make Sure the Applicant Can Type Quickly and Accurately

It is probably pretty obvious but your applicant should be able to type quickly and accurately. Most chat agents should type at least 50 words per minute with few errors.


Once you have the candidate selected, training them properly will be critical to their success. In addition to the product specific and process training needed, here are some specific tips to help your students.

Training Tip #1- Have the Applicant Walk in the Customer’s Shoes

It can be powerful to have your new agents walk in the shoes of the customer. You can do this by having them chat with an experienced agent and pretend to be the customer. The experienced agent can deliberately make them wait, use jargon, etc. You can then debrief and talk through the experience.

Training Tip #2-  Review Chats of the Most Common Scenarios

It is very reassuring for a new agent to be able to see real examples of the most common chats. Your trainer should identify the top 10 chats and review them with the trainees.  By practice and repetition they should be comfortable in handling the most common chats.

Training Tip #3-  Practice Chats and Review Chat Transcripts

You can get your trainees comfortable with the QA process by role playing chats and then later scoring them and dissecting the transcripts. This will develop good customer service habits.

Training Tip #4- Have the New Agent Side-by Side with a Veteran

This builds the confidence of the new agent while building relationships with your team. Have the new agent observe and then process chats with the help of a veteran.

Training Tip #5- Start Small and Build up to Multiple Chats

Have the new agent take one chat at a time until you are comfortable with the quality. Once they have proven that they can process quality chats, then you can gradually allow them to process multiple chats.

Training Tip #6-Review More Chat Transcripts with New Agents

A new chat agent should have more transcripts reviewed as part of your QA process. Once the quality is acceptable, you can back off the number of transcripts reviewed.

By following the above hiring and training tips, you should have a qualified chat agent who can keep your customers happy.

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