What Would Barbara Do: 6 ways to stay cheerful while live chatting
Question: What are the best ways to keep cheerful when chatting?
Back in the day when I did phone support I was always being reminded to smile when I talked - our customers would be able to hear my smile (and my joy at talking to them, I guess?) in my voice. And it was true - when I smiled I felt ridiculous but I did sound friendlier, which usually led to better interactions and outcomes.Now that folks can't hear my actual voice they can still feel my cheerfulness if I'm in a good mood and they respond to it better than when I'm a grumpus. This motivates me to try to stay cheerful when I'm chatting. Not always easy, but some things that work for me are:
- Beverages! Typing is thirsty work - you'll want to make sure you have plenty of coffee/water/beverage of choice in easy reach.
- Snacks to ward off the hangries! Something you can eat with one hand so you can still type and that aren't too messy. Cheetos are a bad choice.
- A comfy location! A good chair and fuzzy blanket will greatly improve your chatting.
- Well thought out shortcuts! If you find you have to look up a link to a help or setup page more than once you should add it to your shortcuts 'cause you'll need it again. You'll generally want to avoid longer shortcuts but if there's something you find yourself explaining a lot you may want to shortcut it. For example - I totally understand why our Force Away feature works the way it does and think that you'll agree with me if you understand the thinking behind it. But typing it out a couple of times a week got tedious so I shortcutted this:
"it's not possible to disable this - the assumption is that if you're missing messages you're likely away from your desk and forgot to set yourself to unavailable. you are forced away so you don't continue to miss chats. take a look at https://www.olark.com/help/force-away for more information about how this works".
Yeah, it's long and I DON'T encourage doing this for most things. But in some cases it definitely makes sense.
- Peers! You're going to have questions you can't answer, bad chats you'll require virtual hugs to recover from and fantastic chats you'll want to celebrate. The Olark support team hangs out in a slack room so we can support each other. :)
- Pay attention to how you're doing! Overwhelmed? Set yourself to unavailable until you get caught up. Grumpy? Ask a friend for a terrible joke. Hungry? Grab a snack. Questioning your life choices? Yup - we've all been there; there are plenty of folks who can commiserate.
You can't do your job well if you're unhappy about your current situation. Being prepared (and maybe actually authentically smiling?) can improve the chat experience of your customers and you may even have fun chatting!
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