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The Basics: What is reactive and proactive live chat?

TLDR: Reactive live chat requires the site visitor to click on the chat box to initiate the conversation themselves. Proactive live chat uses an engagement strategy to appear to users when they need it most with a customised message.

Deciding on the strategy used for live chat depends on your company’s individual requirements for chat. One major policy decision is whether to use proactive or reactive chat, or of course, a combination of both. This blog post helps you decide which is best for you, proactive or reactive.

What if there’s no chat at all?

Imagine going into a store and the associate is nowhere to be seen. In order to gain some help you need to call for the associate. This doesn’t exactly create the best customer experience and can actually stop you from buying all together (if you’re not able to get a crucial question answered). 

This is a similar story to how your visitors experience your website when only phone and email are offered. If a customer has a barrier to buying, they can phone/email you but often they won’t, leading to disconnect  in their online journey (they generally don’t convert). With live chat, help is just a click away, they can get their query solved and finally convert, then and there. Live chat is becoming more and more crucial for online businesses wanting to provide a high standard of service to customers.

Reactive live chat

Now imagine going into a store and browsing around, you can see the sales associate is in the store and available to help, all you need to do is ask. Of course, a proportion will ask for help, the rest will simply leave the store. The proportion that asks is far higher than if the associate wasn’t there though, of course. This is how reactive live chat acts on your website.

Reactive live chat on a site is generally what you will see when you come across a website that has put little thought into the strategy of its live chat. It involves the user clicking on the “chat now” icon/tab to bring up the chat box and start interacting. This is superb when chat is used for customer service related queries and great if the user feels like they would like some help.

Reactive live chat is a lot quicker than email and a lot more convenient than phone. It is also great for technical queries as a transcript of the chat can be emailed to the user. From an operational point of view, it can result in a reduction in the cost of customer service due to the ability to converse with up to 3 visitors simultaneously. Reactive live chat does not take full advantage of the potential of live chat in terms of lead generation and sales conversion though.

Proactive live chat

Now what if you walk into the store, have a little browse, then just before you walk out the store to find another company that can meet your needs the sales associate approaches you and offers the exact help you are looking for. Your questions are answered, your purchase is made and you are happy. This is very similar to how proactive live chat performs on your website.

Proactive live chat has all of these benefits, and more. Proactive live chat is a lot more complex to get right, but the benefits, especially in a sales/lead generation environment are extensive. The ability to catch your visitors attention before they leave to a competitor site is amazing. This can be programmed through the use of “chat invitation rules”, pieces of strategy which we often implement for clients in order to determine when to offer a chat, so that potential leads and sales can be engaged with before they leave the website.

The whole process can be fully customised, enabling you to get the most out of your website. Our Exit Intent Proactive, for example, is used to engage with interested prospects that haven’t taken the next step and are about to leave a client’s website.

Optimising your proactive live chat strategy is an ongoing process. Every week or month you should be reviewing the data and insights to ensure you’re delivering the right message, at the right time to maximise results.

Get it right and you can dramatically increase the number of sales and leads generated from existing website traffic. Get it wrong, and you will annoy your visitors. A proactive strategy should be used to target those visitors which genuinely look like leads or seem to be sales that are about to bounce off your site.

Final Thoughts

Although they both have their pros and cons, reactive and proactive live chat can work together well to increase conversion or support customers. As with everything in live chat, a well thought out strategy is needed to get the best results.

If you’re not sure where to start and could do with some expert advice to develop your live chat strategy or manage your chat, talk to us.

Looking for experts to develop your live chat strategy or manage your chat? Find out how we can help.

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Grow Your Business with Live Chat Strategy

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