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Online Chat Best Practices


  • Expect that experienced staff can handle no more than four simultaneous chats, and staff appropriately.
  • Conduct periodic surveys before and after chat sessions to learn how to improve service.
  • Periodically sit in on chat sessions with operators to ensure quality and identify training needs.

  • Operators should introduce themselves in the first instant message reply to a chatter.
  • If a chatter is having trouble finding information on a Web page, offer to co-browse. Then use your pointer to help them see the information they are seeking.
  • Avoid excessive typing. Students don’t want to read great lengths of text during an online chat, and it’s time consuming to type it. Instead, push an appropriate Web page to them, and then ask if the page answers their question.
  • Offer to send a transcript of the online chat session to them at the end of the session.
  • When the chat feature is offline, always strive to return e-mails within one business day.
  • Post a notice if you are going to be offline for an extended period of time (weekend, holidays, etc.).
  • If you are having trouble communicating effectively with a chatter, ask another operator to help. S/he might bring a different perspective to the conversation and thus help the chatter better understand the message. (North Lake’s Financial Aid Division calls this tactic “Go get a buddy.”)
  • Don’t hesitate to block abusive chatters. This includes someone who is using profanity or just trying to waste the operator’s time.
  • At the end of a session, always thank the chatter.

Approved by the Chancellor's Staff on March 8, 2010