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Proactive live chat: What it is and how to get it right

Businesses have to deliver a high quality customer experience (CX) if they are going to stay competitive, and proactive live chat is a valuable approach that can help them excel. Better yet, when integrated with other digital customer experience technologies, proactive live chat can deliver even better results at scale. Here's a look at what proactive live chat is and how companies can utilize it, along with a few tips for success.

What is proactive live chat?

You're probably already familiar with regular chat options that require the customer to initiate a conversation on a brand's website. The chat function tends to be passive and sit in the background, accessible in the same places you can expect to see customer service phone numbers. Proactive live chat, on the other hand, is more assertive. With proactive live chat, upon visiting a site or a mobile app, a window appears wherein an agent asks a customer if they need help with something or provides relevant information. The goal is to provide customers with the answers and info they need before deciding to give up and move on.

Of course, this only works well when a customer actually needs help — otherwise it may end up feeling bothersome or even unwelcome. Fortunately, businesses can set up proactive live chat so that it only springs into action in certain situations. Here are a few scenarios in which proactive live chat performs especially well.

Use cases for proactive live chat

First and foremost, proactive live chat is effective at reducing cart abandonment. If a customer has already put items in their cart, then they're clearly interested in making a purchase. When it begins to look like they might ditch that purchase, however, a prompt asking the shopper if they've found everything they're looking for or a timely offer of free shipping might help make the sale. You can set the chat to activate after your customer has been lingering on the site with items in their cart for a certain amount of time, which is usually a sign that they might be getting ready to abandon their cart.

Customers, especially the ones who keep coming back, don't want businesses to treat them like a number. Instead, they crave service with a personal touch. This is where AI-enabled tools can come in to support proactive live chat. When a returning customer visits your site, an agent can warmly greet them by name and offer personalized assistance with anything they need. In these cases, the opening message should be different from the one with which you greet new customers, signaling that you recognize they have an existing relationship with your brand.

You can also use proactive live chat to upsell at the right moment, for example by suggesting an additional product or service that pairs well with the items in their cart. Or, your agent could make a personalized recommendation based on the customer's past purchases. You could even automatically offer a special discount for purchases over a certain amount, potentially increasing the total sale.

Tips for success with proactive live chat

When it comes to chat, there are some brands who only use tech-based solutions like chatbots, while others depend on live agents. There's a middle ground to be found with proactive live chat, which thrives when automated chatbots manage simple inquires and live agents are present for escalation or complex purchases. Establishing the proper workflow between digital and human chat agents is key to ensuring an effortless customer experience.

Timing is another important consideration. If you don't reach the customer at the right moment, they may find your chat more intrusive than helpful. With that in mind, configure your proactive live chat to reach out at specific moments when your customer is most likely to need a timely assist or be responsive to a special offer. You can ping them when they've been lingering on your site for a long time, or when they're about to check out.

It's also a good idea to tailor the tone of your message based on the customer's intent. If they're a brand new customer, they probably need a little help in getting oriented or finding the product they want. But they don't know your brand yet, so it's probably not ideal to use a tone that's overly familiar when reaching out to them. A loyal customer, however, will appreciate a warm welcome and a tailored greeting or offer.

Personalization will make sure that your proactive live chat is both satisfying and relevant for the customer. Many businesses integrate proactive live chat with their customer relationship management systems, enabling agents to turn customer information into targeted offers. Integration may also help your support team to improve troubleshooting and accelerate first contact resolution (FCR).

When it is fully integrated with other key technologies, proactive live chat does an even better job of helping your customers in real time and at scale as your business continues to grow. For this reason, it's beneficial to leverage automation as much as possible so that agents have everything they need at their fingertips to provide an exceptional proactive live chat experience.

Deliver a satisfying CX with proactive live chat

Customers desire a satisfying online experience, and proactive live chat can help your brand achieve this goal. Proactive live chat can reduce cart abandonment, keep your customers engaged and even upsell at just the right moment. All of these advantages can help you earn customer loyalty and boost your bottom line, ensuring a bright future for your business in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

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