Will Proactive Chat Invitations Annoy Your Customers?

I’ve been asked several times recently if consumers find proactive chat to be intrusive or annoying. It’s true that most consumers prefer to initiate contact with customer service. However, 27% of online consumers agree with the statement, "I like having an instant messaging/online chat box appear and ask if I need help with my online research or purchase." (North American Technographics Customer Experience Online Survey, Q4 2009 [US])

And what about the other 73% of consumers? I don’t believe it is the prospect of chatting that annoys people. It is the interruption. So what can you do to annoy-proof a proactive chat invitation?

First, make sure the invitation design clearly communicates that this is a chat invite and not a pop-up ad. Also make it easy to decline. The layout and design should make declining just as easy as accepting. For me, it is that split second of looking for the “no thanks” that propels a proactive invitation from innocuous to irritating. Respect declines. In a recent transaction on Virgin America’s Web site, I was interrupted several times in as many minutes by a proactive chat invitation. That was annoying. Once a customer has declined, either don’t offer again or set explicit rules in place that incorporate the previous decline.

If you’d like more information on how to implement proactive chat, I’ve recently published “Making Proactive Chat Work," which I hope will be helpful.



Great post. You hit the nail on the head - the key is to be helpful, and not annoy!

Control precisely when, where, and how the live help box appears based on not only your own business goals but those of the consumer as well. It's all about rules, rules, rules. Base the "proactiveness" on Web context such as time spent on page, products viewed, shopping cart value or contents, customer status, hours of operation, or any session data, and do so judiciously.


I agree. Chat should be like

I agree. Chat should be like the sales associates at Nordstroms - there when you need help, gone when you don't. Don't stalk me if I'm just browsing, but be there if I'm looking for the perfect white shirt.

But I think companies get enamored with the power of complex rules and ignore the simple things. For example, have a chat icon on a product page that is easily visible. Brand it as 'Expert Advice'. People who want help, will click on it. You get a higher conversion rate at a lower agent cost than any complex business rules. Once an organization has that, then the next step is to track customers's movements through your website and see where the process falters. Put help there. Again, a high return at a low agent cost.

Want to know about this product full details

i want to know above this product want to make chat