This story is enough to really creep you out. In this scenario you’re struggling with something you just can’t figure out, so you jump on the online chat forum to see if someone there can help you. But a person working the online help is so quick at answering; it begins to make you wonder. It turns out they know what you’re typing at the same time you’re doing it because they’re watching you type.
An Online Help Practice
This is something that Gizmodo did some research on. One of the news outlet’s readers wrote and shared with them a chat transcript from.a chat with a customer service agent from a mattress company. The agent was responding to messages before the reader even hit “Send.”
The reader asked the agent in the conversation, “Can you see the messages I’m typing before I send them?”
The agent replied, “We get a preview,” then went on to ask if they could help with anything else and added, “I’m really glad you found the bolts. :)”
The reader responded. “That doesn’t seem right to me. Creepy at the least.”
The agent typed, “Gives us a little bit of extra time to look up information. :) Can I help you with anything else today?”
Gizmodo explained that something similar happened to HmmDaily’s Tom Scocca. He received a detailed answer from an agent just one second after he hit “Send.”
Scocca googled and turned up a live chat service with a feature it refers to as “real-time typing view.” This allows agents to prepare answers “before the customer submits his questions.”
Another service that lists McDonalds, Ikea, and Paypal as customers, calls the feature “message sneak peek.” It explains that the service allows their agents to “see what the visitor is typing in before they send it over.” Another service also makes reference to “sneak peak.”
What This Means
This means it happens way more than we probably realize. It also means that it doesn’t matter if you type something, then change your mind and type something else before clicking “Send.” The agent has already read it before you erase.
Sure. It accomplishes what the company wants: it provides you with quick answers while also allowing their agents to move on quickly to the next chat. But it’s also deception. You’re being observed, and they don’t have the decency to tell you.
Scocca asked, “Why give [customers] a fake ‘Send message’ button while secretly transmitting their messages all along?”
And still, it just seems like such a deceptive practice. It’s definitely something good to know and something you need to keep in mind when you are in a chat. Know that you are being watched. There’s no sense in hemming and hawing over what you type before clicking “Send.” They’ve already read it.
Does this affect the way you look at online help and the chats in particular? Does it make you less inclined to use online help chats? Leave your thoughts and concerns in our comments section below.