What Would Barbara Do: What is the best way to reassure a vistor that you haven't forgotten about them?
Question: Sometimes when I'm chatting I get a visitor repeatedly checking to see that they haven't lost me. It makes me crazy! What's the best way and frequency to reassure them that I'm still working on their question?
You know when you receive a chat that you're on it - checking sites and settings, deep discussions with the team, testing on your own account - it's a crazy flurry of activity on your side of the chat. But your visitor can't see that. Unless you check in with them often they're left to their own assumptions (and they'll usually come to the conclusion that you're just ignoring them). You can minimize their feelings of abandonment by keeping them updated. Here's how I do it:
A quick "hello!" at the start of the chat sets the tone. You're there, you're aware they're there, and you won't keep them waiting. Even if they send a long detailed question, start with the hello (and not a reading of their question followed by a detailed answer - that can come next) so they know you exist.
Let them know what you're doing. For example: you've asked for a URL, they've given you the URL, so obviously you're going to take a look at it. At least, it's obvious to you since you're good at your job and you know ignoring folks is rude. But they don't know that - a quick "thanks! looking....." lets them know you've seen their message and you're taking a look at what's going on.
If you know what you need to do from your side will take more than a minute or so, let your visitor know. For example, I know it can be time consuming for me to check someone's source code - I like to start with "give me a couple minutes to dig through your code". If you can't find the info yourself and need to check in with the team you can let them know this as well (for example, "having the team take a look! :)")
Keep your visitor updated! If you don't have an immediate answer to their question or solution to their problem, check in with them while you're investigating. Over here, heated discussions with fellow Olarkers often take a little while - there's no reason not to check in with your visitor even if you don't have an update yet. My personal favorite comment to them is "not ignoring you - discussing with the team :)" Generally, I like to update them about every 5 minutes if I'm still looking for a solution.
If the solution or info will take a while, you can offer to follow up via email.
As always, remember to do what you can to match tone and timing with your visitor. Some folks want constant reassurance you're there. Some know you're on it.
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