The ChaCha Guide’s (Quick) Guide to Customer Service

I’ve already written an Executive’s (Quick) Guide to Customer Service and my post about the experience I had using ChaCha generated a fair amount of interest (they had a topic about it on their forums), so I thought a quick guide to customer service for ChaCha guides might be useful. Here it goes.

Think about what you do.
Your job is to help people find the most relevant search results to their question. Your personal goal is to get high ratings. Even if you can’t find the best search results – searchers will likely give you a good rating if you are friendly and they think you tried. 

Some of the questions are harder than others, but don’t get discouraged. Try to think about each search as something that you are looking for yourself. Try different ways, approaches, and use all the tools available to you to find the perfect site for the customer. 

Be friendly.
While you don’t actually do too much chit-chat type talking during the chat, try to be friendly. Remember – it is usually not what you say, but how you say it. Here are some tips:

  • Say hello and thank the user for using ChaCha at the beginning of the chat.
  • Compliment users. (That’s an interesting question! Let me do some research and find an answer for you.)
  • Use terms like “Absolutely”, “My pleasure”, “Sure – just a moment”, and “I’d be more than happy to do that for you. Just a moment.”
  • Use please and thank you. (Thank you for clarifying that for me.)
  • Provide updates every minute or so. (I’m not finding exactly what you are looking for, but I’m going to try a few other search terms. Just a moment, please.”
  • Related to the above: Don’t let anyone fall in the “black hole.”
  • Thank searchers for their patience. (Sorry this is taking so long! Thank you for your patience!)

Little things like this can end up making a big difference in the overall search experience. It’ll definitely make the difference between an “okay” and “great” rating.

Brush up on spelling and grammar.
My spelling and grammar is not the best. It isn’t bad, but it’s not the best. Be sure to look over things before you click “send” or push enter. Read some of the stuff at the Online Writing Lab and this page, which lists some of the most common errors in English usage and how to avoid them.

When clarifying the question, don’t just ask the user to elaborate. If I put in blogging as the search term, don’t ask me “Could you please tell me more about the search term?” Instead, ask me something like “What would you like to know about blogging?” A little thing, but it makes a difference.

Describe search results.
Just don’t send search results and offer the generic response of “Are these results sufficient?” Instead, describe each result. Say, “This site outlines what you wanted, but may be slightly outdated.” Unless the search result is perfect, include an action. For example: “This site outlines what you wanted, but may be slightly outdated. I’m going to look for a more recent example.”

When offering further assistance, probe.
The canned response of “Are these results sufficient?” is terrible. Instead, say something like “Have I helped you find what you were looking for?” Optionally, include “exactly.” If a searcher says “I guess.” – probe. Ask them what else they are looking for. Include phrases like “That doesn’t sound too confident. How else can I help you?” Frankly, you need to be somewhat pushy. See this post about being insistent.

Offer to follow-up.
During one of my ChaCha searches, a guide offered to take my email address and email me if she found anything. This is cool and a great idea. I’m not sure if it is allowed by ChaCha, but if it is, it’s a great thing to do.

Thank them for using ChaCha.
Closings count. After you are sure the searcher is happy, be sure to thank them for using ChaCha. Say something like “Thanks so much for using ChaCha!” or something equally happy and friendly.

I think everything I suggested is allowed/accepted according to ChaCha policy, but if I am wrong, please let me know. I like ChaCha and hope this guide can be useful for ChaCha’s great guides. There are definitely ones who really care and really want to help, and as a result, do a great job.

If someone from ChaCha is interested in publishing this article in the guide FAQs, etc. just contact me (email address is in bold on this page).

5 Responses to “The ChaCha Guide’s (Quick) Guide to Customer Service”

  1. Ian A said:

    Apr 21, 07 at 10:49 pm

    This site is great for information. I have changed some of my canned phrases because of what was mentioned. I am glad to have come across this on the ChaCha forum! =)
    Ian A. 51351

  2. Service Untitled said:

    Apr 22, 07 at 8:14 am


    Glad you like it! Thank you for the compliments.

  3. Hilda D said:

    Apr 24, 07 at 10:03 am

    Excellent! Cha Cha should make this a “must read” for all guides!

  4. mary said:

    May 17, 07 at 6:34 pm

    Hi there, great article!!! I wish that we could save our edits to the canned phrases….that would be a great addition!

  5. Service Untitled » Interview with Bruce Eicher from ChaCha - customer service and customer service experience blog said:

    Aug 22, 07 at 6:25 am

    […] ChaCha is an interesting company that I have written about before (here is my guide for their guides and my post summarizing a positive experience). Their customer service challenges are unique – they are dealing with thousands of part-time guides and trying to deliver a positive search experience to thousands of searchers. ChaCha has only been around about a year now (the site was launched in alpha in September), so they are still learning. […]