SAS implements proactive chat and sees great results


SAS’ Contact Center has been an integral part of our company for over ten years. Composed of fifteen employees, our team services both internal and external customers. Internally we work with our marketing department to provide outbound call support for campaigns and with our sales organization to qualify and route inbound inquiries from customers and prospects. Externally we help customers stay abreast of important events and technology offerings and direct them to the right places for follow-up and next steps.

Many of our engagements with customers are initiated online, through our reactive, or click-to-chat, feature on This click-to-chat option has been available on a limited basis for 3 years now, and it has been very successful. During the first 9 months of 2010, we received about 800 inquiries from this channel. In October, to better serve visitors to our website, we implemented a proactive chat feature. This feature automatically sends a chat invitation to visitors who trigger established business rules. Visitors who accept chat invitations are routed to our Contact Center staff for help and support for their questions. Our initial proactive chat implementation has exceeded expectations. As we move into our fourth month, I’m taking an opportunity to pause and reflect on some of my observations so far: visitors love to chat with us. And, they like to chat about almost anything. We’ve received requests for programming assistance, training, software downloads, product recommendations, pricing, technical support, job search assistance, event registration assistance, free trials, clarification on what SAS does and what S-A-S stands for. We’ve even had a few requests for help changing a flight reservation or assistance ordering shoes…

Chat is a great source of sales leads too. In the most recent three month period we supported nearly 2000 chats and passed 263 leads to sales. Our ability to quickly connect visitors, who are researching software options or looking for product recommendations, with our sales representatives has been well received by everyone involved. Customers are able to get fast answers to questions, and our sales reps, having the benefit of seeing the chat transcript, can react quickly and provide outstanding support.

We’re keeping a close eye on the comments from our proactive chat sessions. Luckily, the overwhelming majority are extremely positive. Here are a few examples:

“Thanks. Multi-media customer service is really cool.”

“Keep it up”

“I am just gathering info and this service made it much easier to do.”

“Just charge enough to keep your exceptional level of service.”

“You did excellent customer support. please keep up the good work.”

“It’s good and helpful”

“Finding online chat available for help was a very pleasant surprise - and service rep was very courteous.”

“Agent was kind enough to send me details to my email id!”

“Didn't realize that I needed to apply for a code for a discount. Shannon was great. She notified the person that I would submitting a request for a discount code. Shannon was very helpful! Thanks Shannon!”

“[Proactive chat] was a great experience. Got the info I needed quickly and efficiently.”

“This is a very innovative resource!”

“Very helpful!”

“This chat feature is wonderful.”

And, my all-time favorite, in response to our request for feedback or suggestions for how we can serve you better: “It was excellent. I can’t better excellent.”


About Author

Mary Betts

Director, Customer Contact Center

SAS employee since 1985; Global Customer Contact Center Director with background in Sales, Sales Operations, Pricing & Licensing, Sales Development and Customer Service. Empowering employees to help customers (internal and external) & impacting change to drive a positive customer experience are my passions, along with spending time with family in the mountains or at the beach.

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