Calling abandoned carts: why, when and how you should phone your customers

About The Author

Ahmad Iqbal

Ahmad Iqbal

Co-founder and Product/Marketing at Shop Phone. Growth consultant. Every now and again I write about the small business advantage.

After running my store for over a year and reading hundreds of blogs and articles around increasing sales and optimizing conversions, none helped me as much as this one simple tactic. Calling my customers.


Abandoned cart customers are the warmest leads you could have for your business. They are people who have already gone through the awareness, consideration, and preference stages of their sales funnel and just need nudge to confirm their purchase.

When I was starting out, I was experiencing one abandoned cart for every confirmed sale. This meant if everyone that was abandoning actually converted, I would be making double my sales. And so I did what most of us ecommerce entrepreneurs do, set up an abandon cart recovery auto email. There is a great post about email copy here that helped me get an above average recovery rate, but I still felt I was leaving money on the table. I decided to investigate.

In the end, it was from calling my abandoned cart customers that I got a glimpse of why auto cart recovery emails only work 10% of the time (in fact, I achieved a 55% recovery rate, detailed in this case study post). Traditional abandon cart auto emails address one reason why someone didn’t purchase (for example, offering a discount code, or upgrading to express shipping), but the reality is there could be one of a hundred reasons for the abandoned cart. After calling my customers I learned of some of those reasons, a few of which I’ve listed here:

  • Questions about warranty
  • Wanted to buy in bulk but needing a discount
  • Concerns about quality
  • Unclear about shipping times
  • Price was too high
  • Is it easy for children to use?
  • Needed a complimentary product (my store sold that but it wasn’t clear)

Because I was on the phone with my potential customers I was able to address their questions and concerns right away. It’s something my auto emails couldn’t do.

Sometimes (as in the last point I shared above) the customer will share an issue with you that you didn’t even think was an issue. In one example, I thought it was clear that my store sold a complimentary product but after speaking with several abandon cart customers I learned that it was not. Not only did I close the sale with those customers, but after making the product stupidly prominent on my homepage my average cart value went up $20 almost overnight! It was an optimization that would not have happened if that phone call wasn’t made. Additionally, many times I end up up-selling a customer from just buying one, to buying a few extra for their friends, which also increases the average cart value.

Another greatly underestimated benefit of calling customers is establishing a brand identity. A call puts a voice behind the business, and makes the business feel real. The main reason why physical retail stores still do well is because customers like that face-to-face interaction. An online store doesn’t excuse you from also providing this face-to-face service; do it over the phone. A warm, honest, and candid conversation with the customer will build trust. And people are happy doing business with those they trust.


Call an abandoned cart customer as soon as the abandoned cart takes place. Calling customers right away is hard to do because Shopify doesn’t inform you when an abandon cart happens. I found myself having to visit the Shopify website admin dashboard four or five times a day just to make sure I wasn’t missing any abandon carts. To make sure I was calling customers right away, my friend and I built a chat app called Scout that notifies me when a cart is abandoned with the relevant details of the order and the customer. After I started using this app, my leads were no longer turning cold and my cart recovery rate skyrocketed from 10% to 55%.

The importance for calling right away is for several reasons:

Timely — fresh experience with your store

A timely phone call will ensure you get the best quality feedback on your store. What they liked about it, what they had questions about, and you may even get tips on how to improve it.

Interest — purchasing mentality may still be present

The appeal of your product is still fresh in their mind and with you on the phone it’s easy to give the verbal commitment to buy. Even if they don’t purchase right away, if they give you an informal verbal commitment you will stay on their mind.

Accessibility — customers may still be on their computer

If a customer receives a call when they are still on their website it is very easy for them to navigate back to your store and, for example, enter the discount code you’ve just shared with them.

Comparing — searching for lower prices

The worst feeling for a marketer is spending money on ads towards a relevant buyer, only to have them go to a competitor and convert with them. You spent the money on their traffic, why should your competitor get free customers? In one example when I called a customer right away they admitted to me that they were on Amazon looking for a lower price. I wasn’t able to match the lowest price they found, but because of my customer service they ended up converting with me anyway.


Getting started with calling customers can feel like a daunting task but if you have a script ready it can help get over a lot of the initial friction. There is a link to two sample cart recovery scripts you can find here. When you’re on the phone it’s important to let your customers know who you are, be casual, and customize your approach. These same rules also apply to email marketing.

Who you are

Make sure you mention who you are, and if you’re the owner/founder of the store, open your call with that. Customers like hearing from the “boss” because it tells them you care.

Be casual

It’s also important to make sure the conversation is pleasant and you are trying your best to be helpful, because from the very beginning of that call, you are now the face/voice of your store. You are the personification of it. If you are helpful and appreciative, your brand will also be considered helpful and appreciative.

Customize your approach

Before you call your customer you should already know their name, where they live, and what they were interested in buying (Scout gives you this information). This should give you some understanding of their interest. After introducing yourself and asking one of the opening questions mentioned in the sample script link above, it’s imperative to listen. Listen to your customer and cater your responses to be more relevant to them.

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