Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Live chat security and privacy tips

We decided to write this article after one small ‘accident’.  One of our team members began to talk about e-shops safety issues. Suddenly we got an idea to check what Google tells us about chat safety for the e-shops owners or other customer service departments. We were shocked that is quite uneasy to find simple tips for such important topic. So we did our best to figure out some advises that could be used in sales and customer service department while chatting with online customer.

Collision: live chat strategy for sales vs. customer safety

On the one hand, every customer knows that he/she must be careful while chatting online. There are a lot of examples why people should keep personal data secret. Data like: real name, address, telephone number, sex and age and other.  On the other hand, salesman or customer care specialist sometimes needs to ask personal information like real name, e-mail or real living address and other specific questions while talking via live chat. This collision is very important to understand and keep it in mind before you are chatting to the customer.

How to solve it? It’s simple. Build a trust between you and customers. If customer will trust you he/she will share necessary data to complete sales process with you.

How to build trust online?

You need ones data but he/she is not sure to trust you or not. That’s a usual situation for small & medium enterprises that begin to work online. There are few advices that should help to create a trustful atmosphere between you and your customer. Here they are (most important):

  • Create security/privacy statement. Make sure, that customer will have to accept them before communicating with you. It must be clear that you take care of his/her personal information. Also it will help you in the future if disagreement will occure. Clear rules and responsibilities of customer and enterprise create the trust.
  • Create a contact section of the website with your photo and official e-mail. People like to see real people. Cool information is not enough. If they see your smile on the photo they trust you more. But that’s not enough too.
  • Create a social media channels and let customers spread the word about you. Social media is one of the best ways to create trust. People like to talk and share about good experience. Also they like to say “bad words” about your products if they have unsatisfied needs. Be careful of the competitors, bad-mood customer and bad social media strategy as it can lead you to a disaster. Make sure you do your best to manage your clients via social media and keep in mind that your professional attitude towards customer needs leads to a trust.
  • Make sure that you show your best sides. If your website has a lot of visitors, you won a prize in local community as best e-shop, your representatives participated in the international exhibitions or you take care of local animal shelter as a part of your social responsibility program — show it to a customer! Make it visual: take a photo or/and video. That will increase sales and give a sense of trust for customer who has the same values.

Security and communication tips while chatting

As we can see from the Internet Crime Report, online crimes are growing each year. Online customers take security measures more seriously. Same must be done by the owners of e-shops. Some tips how to avoid simple mistakes when having a live chat conversation with a customer:

  • Make sure, that customer had a possibility to accept rules of using your site. The best way is to give a message about obligatory security/privacy statement before he/she can use the site. It will lead to a better understanding of customer responsibilities.
  • No “check this print-screen image that I just made”. Sometimes pictures can hold an “.exe” file with virus. Respect customer but don’t accept such a thing as with some bad luck a ‘customer’ may turn to be an unfair competitor.
    Pro Tips:
    When you feel absolutely necessary, you have several options to be on the safe side:
    1. Use virtual machine to open a suspicious file or ask IT guy to do that for you. What is virtual machine? Read Wikipedia article about virtual machines. There are free virtual machine available that cover all basic needs.
    2. Before opening, check the file with tens of anti-viruses online.
    3. This trick may sound too geeky, but actually it’s easy to master. It works great for images or to check that the file you’ve been send is not an executable (i.e. it will not run a virus when executed). Steps are these (on Windows): right click the file and open it with Notepad, if you see that first two characters are ‘MZ’ — be cautions: this is executable (even if it has extension like ‘.jpg’, ‘.bmp’, etc.).
  • Use updated Anti-Virus. Common mistake is to use outdated products or forget to update their database. Do it responsibly. Good news — nowadays even free Anti-Virus from respected vendors do the good job (e.g. MS Security Essentials).
    Pro Tips:
    1. Any anti-virus must be updated daily. The reason is that more than 200 000  new viruses are detected every day.
    2. If you want to have the best protection possible, you need to know that leaders are changing very rapidly in this industry. So, you need to check fresh anti-virus test results to be sure. Here the few places with fresh antivirus test results.
  • Chat transcripts are easily obtainable. If customer complains about something, take measures to analyze conversation history. That will give a hint whose truth is more correct.
  • Respect customer privacy. Ask only for those data that are necessary to make a deal. If you will ask more that you “need-to-know” and something will happen with customer data you will be judged even you have nothing to do with it. Customer security in some way means your security.

We hope it will help you to be more careful while chatting live and taking care of yours customer. Please, give us your tips about safe chatting if you have one. Be safe!


  1. Evaldas, really an intelligent strategies for live chat and customers too. I love the security and communication tips which are truly incredible and easy to understand. Thanks for sharing this great read.

  2. Alvin, thank you for a good words. It always nice to hear that P3chat efforts to give a practical advice reached the aim. Thank you again and be safe on the Internet.