If you’re on this page you may have seen a little window pop up to ask you if there’s anything we can help you with. If you’re a user of the SARD system you know that on the other end of that window are my colleagues and I, ready to help you if you need us to.
It is interesting to be on the other end of that chat window. I’ve manned our live chat system for over 2.5 years now and responses range from people being overjoyed that there is a quick way to contact us, to people being genuinely freaked out that you can chat with a real person on an appraisal system. I have responded both ways to online interactions. I remember when I was 9 years old my dad brought home our first computer. My sister and I spent hours on end on chat rooms (to the chagrin of my parents who paid for the dial-up costs). It was exciting to type in a line of text and see it appear in the general conversation that was happening. Due to screen names and the nature of chat rooms, it was easy to forget that the other names on the screen belonged human beings. I remember the occasions where someone would contact us via direct message instead and we’d both jump out of our seats screaming and close down the window immediately. It was terrifying to be reminded that the people on the other end were real human beings.
But from the moment the internet was introduced into our house, I progressed to spending most of my teenage years online. I used it to speak to people all over the world, it helped me learn English, and it helped me become aware of the world around me, without ever having to leave the house much. I spoke to people online on a daily basis and have since travelled the world to meet them. Some of the most significant friendships in my life have started online. Needless to say I’m now one of the people who is overjoyed when a website I’m using has a live chat service. I know that any questions I have can be resolved quickly and easily, whilst I go about my business rather than spending what feels like hours on the phone, only to be put on hold whenever things get too complex. And to me, an online interaction can be just as personal as speaking to someone on the phone. In fact, I’d rather speak to someone online who is doing their best to help me, than someone on the phone who is reciting a script they’ve been told to stick to.
Part of the joy of our customer services is that we don’t have any scripts. We know the answers to frequently asked questions, but we don’t copy and paste our answers from any database. When a query really stumps us, we’ll inform our colleagues and we’ll put our heads together to figure out the best way to resolve the issue. In other words, don’t be scared when we pop up to ask if we can help you; yes we’re real people, and we’re happy to talk to you if you’d like to talk to us too.