Ever go on a website looking for help for a return, a price adjustment or maybe just to ask some questions about a product and click on the little box that says “chat with an agent?” Except for the times when it says the chat is automated, you’re actually talking to a live person, and increasingly, those jobs are being done from home, according to the National Association of Call Centers. Today, about 15 percent of all website visitors use live chat, according to recent research. More impressive, 73 percent of all internet users choose live chat as their favorite way to get customer support. And while for years, companies looked to save money by offshoring these customer service jobs to places such as India and the Philippines, in a bid to improve American customer satisfaction, more and more companies are bringing customer service back to the U.S. This means there’s a huge need for people who want to work from home and are interested in customer service. Keep scrolling to learn more about chat work-from-home jobs.
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What is a live chat job?
Live chat work from home jobs are exactly what they sound like — it’s when customer service representatives communicate with customers via chat. Those customers may have questions or problems that run the gamut from finding lost shipments to replacing damaged goods to taking customers through the process of completing a sale online, according to Stacy Sherman, the founder and chief experience officer at Doing CX Right, a customer service consultancy. This means a chat customer service job candidate must be someone who can disseminate information and instructions easily and is patient and kind.
“Listening is the most important skill a customer service person needs to have,” Sherman adds. “Listening to the emotion of that caller — the person who needs help. An agent you also must be willing to practice the art of empathy. If you are that kind of nurturing person, it’s a great job that’d be fulfilling for you and the person receiving your gifts.”
Agents must also have a thick skin and be able to keep their cool, she says, since many people who chat are upset. “Not too many people are chatting because they wanted to tell you how awesome you all are. People usually contact because they’re angry. They’re frustrated. They need help. So you have to remember that as an agent, they’re going to yell at you even though you’re just the messenger.”
A day in the life of a work from home chat agent
Once you’re hired, you’ll go through an onboarding process. You will do training online or via video conferencing and be asked to download or install software on your own computer. You will need a fast internet connection and an updated tablet, laptop or desktop computer. Depending on the job, you may need a video camera connected to the internet, too. Some companies may send you a laptop and other equipment to help you do your job.
The average live chat agent handles about 30 customers per day via a web interface and often has more than one chat open at once, according to Emilia D’Anzica, the founder of Growth Molecules, a customer service management consultancy. “You can have five or six chats going at one time, so you need to make sure that you’re asking the right questions and you’re not becoming frustrated,” she adds.
Once a call is complete, a customer service agent needs to note on the chat record what the chat outcome was and whether the customer requires additional follow-up. Chat agents are typically required to handle a certain amount of customer queries per day, and their job performance is reviewed based on their chat resolution speed and overall customer satisfaction, says D’Anzica, so be aware that you probably can’t leave your desk for extended periods of time during the day.
Someone will always be tracking your chat metrics — how many chats you complete, how long each takes and how customers rate your chats — and you’ll have daily quotas, too. Chat agents get feedback often, so you’ll know pretty quickly how you’re doing. “If you have a bad interaction, you’re going to get a bad score on that day’s chat,” D’Anzica says.
Chat customer service agents are constantly learning, especially about any new technologies needed to support the customer service process. Most remote chat customer service jobs, for instance, require workers to log into an online portal where they will receive customer help requests. This means that if you’re supporting a product or service, you’ll need to become an expert in that subject so you can walk customers through technical questions and instructions. You might be asked to help someone sign up for an online account or set up their new toaster, depending on the company you’re working for.
As more organizations bring artificial intelligence into the mix, you may be asked to use AI-driven tools, too. These tools can help you automatically create answers on the fly or pull up resources to share with customers. “AI is impacting the industry, so job candidates should at least understand how it can help someone become better at their job,” D’Anzica says.
How much do live chat work-from-home jobs pay?
Those who have the right characteristics and temperament to handle online chat customer service can make a good living at it. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, customer service representatives earn, on average, between $13.46 and $28.67 per hour, but there are some industries, such as manufacturing, that boast higher pay. Online career portal Glassdoor says that online customer service representatives are most likely to earn between $36,000 and $51,000 each year, with some customer service jobs topping the $80,000 mark.
Where to find live chat work-from-home jobs
Finding a chat customer service job is easy. There are full-time and freelance job openings on all of the major job search sites. A recent Glassdoor search, for instance, found more than 3,000 open online customer service jobs with Wells Fargo and 19,000 jobs with Home Depot. Sites like Indeed.com, LinkedIn.com, and ZipRecruiter.com have tens of thousands of job openings you can apply for. If you’d prefer to go the freelance route, you can post your profile on sites such as Fiverr.com and Upwork.com and have clients come to you.
“Fiverr freelancers customize their personal profiles and descriptions of the services they offer [on the platform],” says Trisha Diamond, Fiverr’s senior director of Customer Success. “There are several factors that go into why a customer service freelancer would be chosen. It could be the number of years of experience they have in customer service, the price they’re offering, the time zone in which they can work, or if they have a great rating from past clients.”
These women cash in as work-from-home live chat agents
1. Chat work from home jobs success story: “I make up to $20 an hour as a live chat agent!”
About 10 years ago, when Tamera W. Rhodes, 52, became a caregiver for her parents, she needed to find a flexible, work-from-home job. When she learned about SiteStaff.com, a company that hires people to work as online chat agents scheduling appointments and handling customer service complaints, she thought it would be a great opportunity.
“I submitted an online application, completed two phone interviews and I was hired,” Rhodes explains. “I work as a chat agent for a variety of clients, providing information about products or services, pricing and more so the customer can decide if it’s a good fit. There are no sales involved. For example, I might give information and set up appointments for a medical practice, or I’ll give information about senior living communities, set up a tour and put their minds at ease when they feel uncertain. I pride myself on being understanding, helpful and empathic. The company offers ongoing training and a knowledge base that I use when I’m chatting with customers. We also have a group chat if I have a question and instant message if there’s an emergency.”
“Working as a chat agent is my dream job! I love helping people — it’s so rewarding and I have the flexibility I need. I work 25 to 30 hours a week, sometimes more, and I make between $13 and $20 an hour — money that pays the bills and goes toward my daughter’s college tuition and vacations!”
2. Chat work from home jobs success story: “I bring in $15 an hour as a live chat agent!”
When the online business that Vickie Barnes, 54, and her husband own started to slow down, she needed to find a way to make money. “Since I have back problems and can’t stand for long, I wanted to continue working from home, “explains Barnes. “I was searching for jobs and found SimplrFlex, a company that hires people to answer customer service emails on behalf of their clients. It sounded like a fun and flexible opportunity, so I applied.”
“To get the job, I had to read mock customer service scenarios and take a quiz about how to handle them. Then I had to answer 10 customer service tickets that were more specific to ensure my answers addressed the issues, were concise and didn’t contain typos.”
“Once hired, my work consisted of answering emails about the status of orders, tracking information and returns or exchanges. SimplrFlex provided templates, but I could also customize emails. As I gained more experience, I moved onto accounts that also use a chat feature. I work between five and six hours a day, helping clients in industries from retail to insurance. I love working for SimplrFlex because I have autonomy and flexibility and can work as much or as little as I want. I get paid $1.50 an email and make between $12 and $15 an hour. The money I earn pays the bills and is saved for home-improvement projects.”
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