Best Practice For Proactive Chat. To Engage Or Not Engage?

How to increase lead conversion with Proactive Chat

Many of us have had the experience of multiple chat invitations being flashed in our face on different websites – experience rather unpleasant and annoying considering that the pop-up often comes up on the next page even after having been closed and there is no option to get rid of it permanently. After having tasted it as a user, as businesses we start wondering, is it worth to have it, will my visitors enjoy it, will I not scare them away from my website?

The truth about people is that they can be divided into those who like to engage and those like to be engaged. If you are waiting for users to reach out to you, you are missing a great deal of opportunities to establish a business relationship with those who are waiting to be engaged by you. To maximize your reach and sales opportunities, it is important to develop a strategy which includes both types of approach.

Chasing the passive users you must not forget the interest of their opposites  and care about their experiences equally. The chat invitation, in case it hits a user who does not like to be invited, should be offered in such a way that the person does not feel offended, irritated or discouraged to further explore your website. Finding the right balance is the key.

Proactive chat: mass engagement vs targeted

Let’s look at each of the options.

With mass engagement you are inviting everybody who comes to your site, without discrimination, and basically without caring if they can benefit from your invitation – this approach can be safely called spam. What is the effectiveness of spam? According to statistics, 1 in 10000 spam email messages generates a click. Not very effective, isn’t it? Unfortunately, or rather fortunately, there are no statistics at this point for proactive chat, but it could easily be predicted that results would not differ greatly.

Mass invitations bet on quantity, without consideration of how much of those who accept the invitation are quality leads. The majority of them would probably be someone who just doesn’t mind chatting with you, or someone who is randomly looking around but not ready to seriously explore your product or try your service. You will waste your time and energy interacting with them and the added cost will be losing good prospects, your potential loyal and long-term customers, whom you may drive them away from your website by annoying them with spammy invitations.

Targeted invitations on the other hand are your effort to identify customers who show genuine interest in your product, but need a little push to get started. After all, we all suffer from procrastination and indecisiveness from time to time. This approach requires more effort on your part and will give you less leads, but they will be of a better quality, and acquired without damage to your website reputation. Which strategy to choose?

The ideal solution would be to come up with a flexible strategy which you can experiment with, review and change it as you learn what works for your business. Best practice certainly recommends targeting your invitations, at least to some degree.

How to increase lead conversion with proactive chat

If you chose the mass engagement approach, it doesn’t take much – just firing off your invites in the air and waiting for the leads.

With targeted invitations it is necessary to set up criteria upon which you will be targeting your prospects. The 3 most important are:

  • Time
  • Location
  • Navigation history

For how long has the user been browsing the site, or has he just entered it? For how long has he been staying on the current page? What pages did he view? Your goal is to target users at places with the highest possible anticipation rate, and at the right time. Evaluating all of the above 3 parameters will help you to find what in the swimming world they call a sweet spot, where your users will feel comfortable about your invitation offers.

Here are some suggested opportunities for you to look at.

  • Eliminate abandoned shopping carts – watch closely your shopping cart and checkout pages and if the user is staying there for an unreasonably long time, or if the system triggers an error message, approach the customer with the help offer. These are your most solid leads and a little effort and attention can save you a lot of earnings.
  • Save your low performing pages – using the traffic analytics tool you need to examine your top exit pages and start targeting them with proactive chat. This is where you can offer the invitations with a shorter time lapse anticipating the lack of interest on the part of the customer and trying to entice them with an interesting offer. Depending on the nature of the page try to come up with something original and try different approaches and messages, offering incentives etc., to actually understand why customers are exiting from these pages and what you can do to improve the situation.
  • Identify your high quality prospects – if you have any informational resources posted on your website, such as help section, user manual, knowledge base, FAQ – these are your must do for proactive chat. If the user has navigated through to this type of page, it indicates a high level of interest and a greater level of engagement with your product, so you can safely invite those users to chat and they will no doubt appreciate your help.  Any forms of Contact Us and Live Demo, tutorial, video presentation pages are also good places to invite users to chat. Be sure to craft your messages to be specific and relevant to those areas of your website.
  • Drive volume by targeting your most popular, high traffic pages – on this type of pages, you cannot tell for sure if the customer will be appreciative of your invitation, so to a certain extent you will be going in the dark here. However, inviting people on these pages is important, because it can make a great difference to your invitation acceptance rate, especially if you choose the right timing and wording for your invitations. In the end, the more people you chat to, the more conversions you can make. Try not to be pushy and intruding into the customer’s space, keep your messages light and easy.

Things to avoid

There are certain practices by following which you risk bringing down the level of customer experience and potentially causing their frustration. Make sure you are not:

  • Targeting users during the first couple of seconds they enter your page – This is a mistake made even by some otherwise great blogs when they ask you to subscribe to their newsletter or download something before you even had a chance to look at their page and understand what this website is about. It only causes interruption in the user experience and the user will definitely decline it, whereas if you made a suggestion to them at a later stage, they may would have been eager to accept it.  It’s exactly the same with proactive chat. First let users look around and get acquainted with the information on the website to see if they want to explore it further and ask questions.
  • Inviting customers during the same browsing session if they rejected an invitation – Quite simply, it’s just not nice to haunt them down like prey. You wouldn’t want them to run away from your website.
  • Leaving the customer no option to opt out of your invites and close the invitation window – It may be annoying if the window is always there with the operator staring at you from the picture and you are actually trying to do some reading there. The customers should have a voice and a right to make their choices on your website. If they want it closed, you should offer them this option and respect their decision.
  • Sounding too generic – Watch the language you use in your invitations. Employ as much information from the monitoring tool as you can, checking the keywords they used, their navigation history to understand what they are looking for and genuinely show your concern and desire to help. If they smell a rat, by which I mean bot invitation, they will most certainly not bother to engage.

Final Words

Finding the right balance is always a process. More than a balance it is balancing of your business in a constantly changing environment. You may think of it as a ship making a journey through uncharted waters. Don’t expect that you will set up a strategy for many years ahead and then rest on your laurels. The wind is always blowing. But don’t be afraid to change. As the quote by Tom Peters goes,

Excellent firms don’t believe in excellence – only in constant improvement and constant change”.

So every day look at your visitors screen with a fresh look and see whom you would like to invite today – you will see new patterns, gain new insights into how to do it better, discover new opportunities for growing your business and will gradually evolve and improve.

Personalized approach is the strategy that brings the best results, but then, if it is different every day, with every customer, and you create it on the fly, can it be called a strategy? What would you say?

Provide Support is a leading software provider in customer service, offering live chat and real-time visitor monitoring tool for websites. Aiming for excellence in customer service.

Maria Lebed

Maria Lebed

Maria is a Customer Service Advocate and Social Media Coordinator at Provide Support, LLC. She is a writer and blogger on customer experience, customer service innovation and live chat support service.
Maria Lebed

8 thoughts on “Best Practice For Proactive Chat. To Engage Or Not Engage?

  1. I can’t tell you how impressed I was with your product, right up until the time I discovered that you don’t track visitor IP history. If the major reason that I want to proactively chat is to boost sales, then I certainly do want to know if I am about to pester a return customer for the 2nd or 3rd time or not. Don’t you think?

    I know your site has the ability to log the information, so I consider it a major oversight that the page that shows all the other customer cheddar, doesn’t tell me whether the customer has been on before, how many times and when, if we’ve chatted before, or if the customer has rejected a proactive advance in the past.

    As I told your customer service agent earlier today, this is making me reconsider whether purchasing this product is a wise move. So here’s hoping that you guys are as responsive as you are buffed.

    I’d like to be your customer. Impress me.


    1. Wow .. great idea and I have also wished for this myself. I know this is almost a year old now so my apologies for digging up and old thread. It seems given the complete lack of any reply or acknowledgment of your post, that perhaps these guys aren’t so good with customer interaction themselves. I was honestly quite surprised to see no answer to your response. Not engaging a potential customer who has taken the time to give such a detailed response is farcical.

      1. Dear Kevin, thank you for your comment. I really appreciate it, as thanks to it I became aware that I am missing some comments from our readers due to a technical problem in my notification system.

        As I replied to Ira’s comment earlier, indeed, we don’t have a repeat visitor identification functionality yet. We received quite a few requests from our customers for this feature and we plan to implement it in the future. For now we suggest to our customers to use personalized greetings when proactively approaching their clients. Based on experience, this helps to reduce the risk of contacting the same customer with identical message and creating a feeling of annoyance in them, at the same time allowing you to contact more customers and get better conversion rates.

        If you are using the system, I will be happy to hear your feedback and suggestions on how we can improve the service further.

        Thank you for reading our blog.

  2. Dear Ira, thank you for your comment. My apologies for such a late reply. Thanks to Kevin’s recent comment below yours I realized that some comments to my blogs are being misrouted in my notification system, as a result of which I missed several important comments from our readers.

    To answer your question, indeed our proactive chat feature is quite basic at the moment, it lacks a few advanced features frequently asked for by our users. We do realize that identifying repeated visitors would make proactive approach much more productive and we certainly plan to add this feature in the future. Let me add however, that based on feedback from our customers, even in this functionality, they find proactive chat quite useful, helping them to increase sales and engagement. A great deal of success depends on the proactive chat greeting. If it is personalized, there is less chance that the customer is annoyed seeing the same message if he comes again to your website. Additionally, since our product is targeting mostly small and average size companies, our customers’ clients when searching for a product or a service check many similar websites, so in most cases when they come again to your website, they don’t remember if they have visited this site and what information they found, so in many cases contacting them again with proactive chat can lead to gaining a new customer. Have you tried using this feature in our software? I would be happy to hear your feedback and suggestions for our development team.

    Thank you once again for reading the blog and engaging with us.

    1. Hello Shlomi. The price includes all the features available with us, there are no additional charges. Chat transcripts will be emailed to you automatically at the end of each chat session. They are not saved anywhere online however, you can only keep them in your mail application. You can use our free trial for testing, all the features are activated during the trial.

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