Working with Online Chat

First published on August 24, 2016
Last updated on May 23, 2023
Using Online chat is a new way of connecting with customers. In this blog we explain a few tips to help you be more successful.

You’re taken the plunge and installed Online Chat on your Website, and if you haven’t and want to know why you should here is a post worth reading.

Now what?

The “Chat” is installed and you are monitoring the site, it doesn’t matter if your are a Visitor Information Centre or an Operator the same principles apply. It’s not quite working out how you thought,  you seem to be scaring them off, nobody wants to talk to you and when you do try to start a conversation, they leave. Well welcome to my world, the world of Online chat!

In this blog I’ll share the tips I have learned over the past 12 months at the Tourism Tribe, these tips have saved my sanity, yielded some good results and even created some online friendships.

online chat 1

Don’t get carried away with the “tool”

The Online chat I use has a cool function, where I can “/GM” and it creates a lovely sentence and saves me typing. So in an effort to be organised, I created loads of them…. well I only use 5 or so, so save this task until you have a better understanding of the questions you are getting repeatedly asked.

Add a profile pictureonline chat 2

Make sure they can see a picture of you, it doesn’t have to be a professional portrait picture, just a nice friendly picture they can relate too. You’ll be really surprised how many people comment on your picture.


Watch and learn, take note of where your customers are coming from, are they locals, from Interstate or International customers. What are they looking at and on what device. This is the most important stage, take your time and learn about your customers.

Leave them alone

I know you’re keen, you’ve got a new tool and they are a potential  customer, but don’t jump down their throat. When you enter a store in the real world and the overzealous salesperson literally hugs you at the door, you’d run for the hills I bet, well the same applies online. I think the magic time to wait is around 2-3 minutes.

Tread carefully

Don’t go straight into sales mode, you need to develop trust and that is harder in the virtual world. Ask leading questions to open up the conversation. Be friendly but professional and answer questions that may not be specifically your responsibility. They may for example be after information about a region neighbouring yours, help them by providing the link to what they need.  They will remember the great service you provided.

Introduce yourself

Explain to them who you are and how you can assist. I they respond that they don’t need any help, let them know that that’s Ok but you are here if they get stuck. If they ignore you don’t take it personally, they probably haven’t noticed you or they are scared of engaging this way. Leave them be! 

Online chat 3

Provide options

If you are working in a Visitor Information Centre use the over the counter skills you already have and adapt them to the online world, you can do this by;

  • Asking relevant questions
  • Clarifying their needs
  • Making suggestions and providing direct links to products
  • Offering to send the transcript of the conversation to an email account, so they don’t have to write everything down
  • Offering to make a booking
  • Following up on any queries they may have

If you are a Tourism Operator the same principles apply it’s all about customer service

Don’t over service

It’s a very fine balance and each customer is different, use your “gut” to analyse the signs and level of engagement. I don’t think it’s science it’s more an art.Online chat 4

Let them leave the chat

Your chat will probably hold a record of the conversation and remember them when they return, so let them go!


………when they return, here is your opportunity to astound them. Quickly read the history and follow on with the conversation, they’ll love you and the great service you’re providing. You’ll remember their name and what they wanted and you can continue taking them down the purchasing path.

So there you have it, a few tips to ensure you get the best from your Online Chat!

Have fun…

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