How to sound like a human in Live Chat

So, you’ve decided you want live chat on your website but now you’re wondering, “How can my team create meaningful connections online when we’re competing with a bunch of scarily clever internet robots?”. A reasonable cause for concern.

As AI technology progresses, chatbots are now able to dish out impressively appropriate responses by searching databases and analyzing questions at lightning speed. Have you ever been spoken to by a bot on Facebook Messenger? Their use of emojis is frighteningly accurate.

It’s easy to feel like we’re losing touch with what’s “real” when we get sucked into the technology of the interweb, but we have to remember that there’s one superpower in our back pocket that no robot can truly replicate: our human-ness.

Research shows that customers prefer dealing with humans when it comes to more complicated problems. Sure, when you’ve got a straightforward question, chatbots work like a charm but us humans have complex emotional needs. Sometimes, we’ve got thorny issues that need handling with care. In these instances, we like to be tended to in a personal manner.

44% of online consumers say that having questions answered by a live person during an online purchase is one of the most important features a website can offer.


We’ve compiled 5 of our top tips to help make your human-ness stand out, so you can deliver an awesome customer experience and #beatthemachine!

In essence, it’s about getting the right balance between fast, effective results and creating a bond with your customer. It’s tough without the ability to read body language or make eye contact but here are a few key ways you can master the process:

1.  Create a good first impression

Think about your tone straight off the bat. Focus on keeping things positive and friendly. Avoid using too much humor or sarcasm. Unfortunately, sarcasm doesn’t usually come across how you intended it to when you’re speaking via chat!

Choose your words carefully. How are you saying what you’re saying? It’s easy to unintentionally come across as blunt or rude when really, you’re just getting to the point. Think about your dad’s quick one-liners when he was first learning to text on a smartphone. Not the best experience…

Of course, if you’re having one of “those days”, remember not to bring that mood into the conversation or fight back when you get bad vibes from the customer. Remain positive and this, in turn, will help calm your customer down too.

2. Get personal

We’re all for leveraging templates and canned responses but be sure to personalize and tailor interactions, where appropriate. Use the customer’s name and any other details you have to build rapport. Try asking how they are and chatting about their day.

These little personal touches will create a point of difference in the customer’s online chat experience and make the interaction more memorable… maybe even something worth sharing on social media or with their friends!

3. Invoke confidence and provide clarity

This point is simple but often forgotten. The customer can’t see you. They can’t read any other cues apart from the words you type. This makes it vital to confirm exactly what the customer has asked for so that they feel heard and understood. You also need to clearly explain how you’re working towards a solution to their problem, so they’re not left waiting, guessing and reading into your silence.

Try not to make your customer wait but if you need to, explain why there will be a delay and what you are going to be doing in the meantime (gathering further information, asking a colleague for help – whatever it is).

Always elaborate in full sentences, providing a complete answer. Customers really appreciate this clarity and it makes them feel calmer (and less likely to bite your head off!).

4. Mirror your customer

Use a dynamic tone – something robots can’t do! This helps build an emotional connection and shows that you’re adapting to the situation.

When the customer gets a win, celebrate with them! If they’re frustrated, be more professional so they can see you’re taking their issue seriously.

Speak in their language. This approach will help your customer feel like you “get” them as an individual, not just another number.

5. Step into their shoes

Be sympathetic to your customer’s situation. Feel into what they’re experiencing.

Keep your language simple and avoid jargon that they won’t understand. When you are an expert on your company’s products or services, it can be tricky to remember what it was like to not know it all. This can make it really difficult for you to explain something extremely basic to your customers and prospects.

It’s called the “Curse of Knowledge” phenomenon and it refers to the fact that once we understand something, we struggle to imagine anyone not knowing or understanding it. Therefore, it’s vital to regularly walk in our customers’ shoes so that we can continue to see things from their perspective too. The world could do with a little more empathy, after all!

Pro tip: try using storytelling and real-world examples in your sales and marketing process to help simplify concepts.

Over to you

Make live chat a memorable experience for all the right reasons. Help customers come away with a feeling of connectedness to your brand and products or services. Emotional intelligence is your USP (unique selling proposition) when going up against chatbots online. It helps your customers feel heard, understood and satisfied with the outcome. Solving the problem is really just a hygiene factor – what makes the experience memorable is that personal interaction. Remember, always focus on delighting the customer. This is what keeps them (and their friends) coming back for more.

In an era when companies see online support as a way to shield themselves from ‘costly’ interactions with their customers, it’s time to consider an entirely different approach: building human-centric customer service through great people and clever technology. So, get to know your customers. Humanize them. Humanize yourself. It’s worth it.

Kristin Smaby, author of Being Human is Good Business

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