Proactive vs. Reactive Chatbots – Pros and Cons



Chatbots are the quintessence of automated information systems. They provide answers, they perform transactions, they cut waiting times, and help increase customer satisfaction.

What else does a business need? 

What seemed like fantasy several decades ago, is now a reality, and with the latest advancements, the term chatbot is starting to become too broad. 

During the last few years, different approaches have emerged in terms of building these communication interfaces. Some are powered by machine learning, others by symbolic or explainable AI; some are 100% automated, and others allow for hybrid interactions thanks to human escalation features. 

One feature that can tell apart two different types of chatbot instances is the way they engage with customers. That’s when we talk about reactive and proactive chatbots. 

What Is a Reactive Chatbot?

Imagine you go to a store. You cross the door and start looking around. While walking down the aisles, you discover some interesting products, but one of them really catches your attention. 

You’re thinking about buying it, but it doesn’t have the price labeled, so you decide to approach the store assistant, who informs you about the price and helps you from there. 

Well… A reactive chatbot is a digital version of this scenario. 

Reactive chatbots are automated chat instances that wait for the customer or visitor to reach out before communicating with them. 

This means they won’t send any message unless the user asks a question.

So Then, What Is a Proactive Chatbot?

A proactive chatbot uses a completely different approach. 

Instead of waiting for the website visitor to engage – which can or cannot happen –  it initiates a conversation and tries to persuade the user to do a certain action based on a series of behaviors: 

  • Pages visited: depending on the pages a user visits, the chatbot can recommend contents or suggest different actions that lead the user to conversion.
  • Time on page: a chatbot interaction can be triggered depending on how long a user has been browsing a specific page. 
  • Scrolling: considering the level to which a user has scrolled down, the chatbot can be activated -similarly to a pop-up, but less invasive- to recommend related or similar contents and products, offer first-time buyer discounts, facilitate the booking of a meeting, or almost any commercial activity you can think of. 
  • Shopping cart: proactive chatbots can also use other metrics, such as the number of items in a shopping basket or the total value that order would have in case it is converted. This means that a chatbot can offer discounts only to customers considering a purchase over a certain amount of money.


When and How to Use Them a Proactive chatbot ?

Why is proactive support important? Benefits of Proactive Chatbots

  • Strengthening your brand image.

    The value of this kind of chatbots is tangible. In fact, 70% of customers tend to have a better image of brands that offer proactive notifications.1

  • Anticipating customer needs.

    The key lies in reacting at the right time. As humans, we don’t want to be bothered by irrelevant information, but instead, we do appreciate being pointed in the right direction when we have questions. According to Google and Econsultancy,  almost 90% of successful businesses are sure that anticipating their customer needs and assisting them along their journey is essential to foster their business growth.2

  • Increasing conversions.

    That’s exactly what is proved by a study performed by Buffalo Business First. According to their research, almost 9 out of 10 online shoppers would abandon a purchase when unable to find the right answer in a short period of time. Chatbots can effectively reduce cart abandonment by between 30-40 percent.

  • Improving customer satisfaction.

    Proactive service has proven to give extremely good results in terms of increasing satisfaction metrics like the Net Promoter Score (NPS) or the Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT).3

A happy customer is a loyal customer, because who on earth would try a different service when the one you already tried worked like wonders to you?

Plus, when we have good product and service experiences, we are willing to talk about it with our families and acquaintances. 

We tend to tell no less than 3 people, which is a huge word of mouth potential. And we all know word of mouth is not only the oldest but also the best performing marketing technique.


Proactive Chatbot Best Practices – When and How to Use Them

As much as being proactive is considered a good skill, knowing when and how to proactively engage with someone is sort of an art. 

Excessively engaging with a potential customer when not needed can be seen as “too pushy” and can actually make you LOSE customers. It is important your chatbot is reactive only when it needs to be.

When to use and not to use a proactive chatbot

  • Do not engage with customers the exact moment they land on your site. Leave them time to browse, to get familiar with the interface, to identify the products or services you offer. It will also give your chatbot information about him in order to improve/personalize the message.
  • Explore user queries to understand their intention. If you’ve seen them type several similar queries on your search bar, then you need to act. Provide them with the proper answer and he’ll most likely convert. 
  • Find out at which point most of your visitors are leaving. Then, activate your chatbot at that stage in order to prevent them from leaving without finding what they were looking for. For instance, when they are reaching up the site window, they are most likely trying another search engine search or just intending to close the window. That’s a good moment to try and stop them.
  • Analyze the time spent on the shopping cart page. When it goes over a certain period, the customer is likely considering whether to buy or not. That’s a good time to be proactive and encourage their purchase.

How to Make Your Proactive Chatbot Useful

  • Use it wisely. Do not pressure them with excessive messages. Flooding customers with information they don’t necessarily need will only turn against you. Be relevant and concise.
  • Copy is the king. Make it engaging, follow the best UX practices, and improve your chatbot responses according to the most common queries, so you don’t miss a thing.
  • Ask for feedback. That’s your most powerful tool. If you know how customers feel about the chatbot, you will be able to tweak it, adapt it, and provide the best value you can.
  • Make it visually appealing. Design is an important part of any online interaction. Your chatbot interface should be easy to navigate and user-friendly. Don’t try overcomplicated flows or crowd the visuals too much. Your customers will thank you.
  • Keep it updated. Your business changes. Customer demands do too. That’s why your chatbot should be a dynamic project, not a one-time thing. Dedicate time to improving it and it will definitely pay off.

Is There Any Disadvantage to Implementing a Proactive Chatbot?

Proactive chatbots have very few disadvantages. In fact, when implemented well, you can’t really go wrong. If you follow the best practices mentioned above and get the right provider, it can bring unimaginable benefits to your organization. 

Inbenta is a leading chatbot supplier that uses symbolic AI to naturally provide answers and recommendations to customers. Our chatbot platform provides an extremely flexible environment – and a very friendly and reactive support team that will help you implement your chatbot project successfully and in no-time!




1. Microsoft. 2017. State of Global Customer Service Report
2. Think with Google. Statistics on Customer Journey and Needs
3. Gartner. Loyalty Through Customer Service and Support Survey

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