How to Use Proactive Chat Effectively
If you ask the average online retailer what they think of proactively inviting website visitors to engage in a live chat, chances are they’d say it’s “too intrusive” or “annoying to the shopper.” A recent survey of more than 1,000 regular, U.S.-based internet shoppers conducted by my company, Bold Software, begs to differ.
E-tailers might be surprised to learn that more than half of those surveyed find proactive invitations helpful. In fact, 52 percent of online shoppers who participated in the survey were receptive to receiving proactive chat invitations during their shopping experience. Among those respondents who indicated they spent more than $150 per average transaction, 72 percent of them were open to being invited to chat.
It’s just like when a salesperson in a brick-and-mortar store comes over to ask you if you’re finding everything you need or require any assistance. Done wrong, it’s intrusive and annoying; done right, it’s good customer service.
3 Proactive Chat Best Practices
If you’re an e-tailer considering proactive chat, my firm's research indicates you should keep these three things in mind as you get started:
1. Add proactive chat to high-value pages. Those that spend more tend to be more receptive to live chat.
2. Combine offers (e.g., free shipping) with proactive chat to engage visitors who have never chatted before. These two methods were top choices among the surveyed “nonchatting” population.
3. WHEN to invite visitors is critical. Case in point, visitors invited after being on a website for two minutes to three minutes have a 79 percent chance of accepting invitations. Therefore, retailers should think not in terms of time on page alone, but also of the following:
- total page views;
- length of time on site;
- number of previously viewed pages; and
- number of previous site visits.
Proactive Chat in Action
Boston Green Goods owns a portfolio of healthy living catalog and internet properties; AllergyBuyersClub.com is the flagship division of the company. “We started using proactive chat in 2005, and it works well for us,” said Boston Green Goods COO Robert Scott in a Bold Software press release. “When people visit our sites, they’re using them to do shopping comparisons or delve into product evaluations. Proactive chat feeds into this. Our goal isn't to pressure people, but to educate and add value. People welcome that.”