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What is proactive chat and why is it so important?

A woman with dark hair and glasses smiles as she uses proactive chat on her laptop.

With more people now shopping online, businesses must deliver high-quality digital experiences in order to stay competitive. 

While many businesses today offer general live chat or chatbots on their website, these channels are not reaching their full potential. That’s because they are reactive chat functions, where the onus is on customers to start conversations. Instead, businesses should be using proactive chat to improve customer experiences and drive revenue. 

What is proactive chat and why is it so important? 

Regular chatbots are passive or reactive. That means they sit in the background of websites and only become active once a customer has initiated conversation. While these channels are certainly beneficial, true customer service is all about anticipating what your customers need before they ask. This is where proactive chat comes in. 

Unlike reactive chatbots, proactive chatbots start conversations pre-emptively. When a customer visits a website and looks like they need help, a proactive chatbot can offer them relevant and personalised information, without them even having to click on the chat widget.  

The goal of proactive chat is to provide customers with the information or answers they need before they give up and move on. The truth is humans aren’t very good at asking for help. Even if we need assistance, most of us won’t speak up unless we’re offered assistance. With proactive chat, your contact centre agents can reach out via chat at just the right moment, turning a potentially unsuccessful online experience into a positive customer interaction.

Benefits of proactive chat

Proactive chat can be used in a variety of ways:  

1. Offering intuitive assistance 

Proactive chat can offer personalised assistance to customers related to the webpage or topic they are researching. Let’s say a customer is shopping online and is spending a lot of time on the delivery and returns page. At this point, a chat window can pop up with a prompt such as: ‘Would you like to know more about our returns policy?’ or ‘Would you like to speak to someone about returning an item?’ This prompt can be enough to encourage the customer to engage and gives you the opportunity to build rapport and solve customer queries, before they reach your call queue. 

2. Reducing cart abandonment 

Proactive chat is particularly useful for reducing cart abandonment. If a customer has added items to their cart, odds are that they are interested in making a purchase, but you need to make sure they follow through. You can set up your proactive chat to engage customers that are indicating they might abandon their cart (e.g. if they are lingering on your site with items in their cart for an extended time). A timely prompt asking the customer if they’ve found everything they’re looking for, reminding them of free shipping, or offering a discount, may just convert the sale. 

3. Increasing upsells 

Proactive chat is also a great tool for upselling. You can program your chat to upsell at critical moments, increasing the likelihood for add-on sales. For example, your chat could: suggest an additional product/service that complements an item already in the customer’s cart, make a personalised recommendation based on their past purchases, or offer a discount for purchases over a certain value, all of which can increase your total sale. 

How to succeed with proactive chat 

When implemented successfully, proactive chat provides a more personalised and empathetic experience for the customer, which can lead to higher engagement, more conversions and improved customer service. Your success depends on two main factors: timing and personalisation.  

Timing is everything 

It’s helpful to think of proactive chat like the salesperson in a retail store who comes up and asks if you need help – the timing is everything! You need to reach the customer at the right moment. If you are too quick, the customer may find your chat more intrusive than helpful. You don’t want to pester your customers, so make sure you give them enough time to formulate questions before asking if they have any. If you’re too slow, customers will give up and leave your website.  

Make it personal  

Personalisation will make your proactive chat more relevant and rewarding. It’s important to tailor your message to suit the customer. If they’re a new customer, you should consider what chat options might help them get oriented or find the product or service they want. Remember they don’t know your brand yet and you don’t know anything about their buying habits, so keep your tone casual. When it comes to returning customers, however, welcome them warmly with a tailored greeting and inform them of new features, products or offers.  

Improve your chat functions with Puzzel Digital Engagement 

With Puzzel Digital Engagement, you can engage your customers with proactive, personalised customer support in real-time and at scale on your website. You can create triggers to engage visitors with the right offer, at the right time, to increase your sales conversion rate and customer satisfaction. And you can use data from your CRM to personalise prompts, such as reminding customers to renew their subscription if their service is about to expire. 

If you want to maximise your sales and customer service potential in an increasingly competitive online marketplace, book a demo of Puzzel Digital Engagement today.

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