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Forge Your Way With Proactive Customer Service

Forge Your Way With Proactive Customer Service

logo Shubham Rajpara
December 25, 2020 | 8 Min Read

According to Microsoft, 68% of consumers say it increases their perception of a brand when companies send them proactive customer service notifications.

Proactive customer service is traditional customer service leveled up. In this blog, we will discuss what customer service is, what are the benefits of adapting to this type of customer service, how to adapt to it and see the real-time proactive customer service examples.

What is proactive customer service?

Proactive customer service is a defensive type of customer service wherein businesses aim at preventing all customer support problems that may occur.

All the proactive customer strategies are customer-centric and revolve around understanding the needs and wants of customers beforehand, to not disappoint them at any juncture of the customer journey.

This is contrary to what the majority of customer service teams practice -- reactive customer service. Let's know the difference. 

Reactive customer service: A visitor is browsing your web, app, or online store and has a question or your customer has an issue with your product or service. They find ways to contact your business and wait for your response. 

Proactive customer service: A business with its customer service team anticipates all customer issues beforehand and addresses them proactively. This can be done by having FAQs, knowledge-base, and instructional videos online. You can also ask customers/visitors to fill forms in order to understand them better.

Why is it important?

Proactive customer service is based on the age-old saying, "prevention is better than cure.” Though how excellent your support team is, a customer with an issue increases the probability of you losing them as a customer. And, it also tarnishes the brand in some way.

In a study by inContact, it was found that 87% of surveyed adults were happy to be contacted proactively by businesses regarding customer service issues. Here are some other stats of the same study:

Customer-attitudes-to-proactive-support
Source

Benefits of proactive customer service 

Here are the benefits of proactive customer service: 

  • Customer Acquisition: Delivering products, services, and experiences online to people's needs and wants makes them more likely to associate with your brand.

  • Customer Retention: The better your customer experience is. The lesser has a nice you with your product or service in the first place, the longer they will stay. 

  • Word-of-mouth marketing: Happy customers are the most potent and rewarding marketing collateral. People are undoubtedly more likely to trust the first-hand experience of their friends and family than anything else.

  • No customer service crisis: Minimizing the possibility of a customer service issue is the best proactive customer service idea to mitigate escalation.

  • Enhanced Brand Perception: Not many businesses are using proactive customer strategies; therefore, deploying them will give you leverage over others.

How can you shift from reactive to proactive support?

Now that you know the benefits of proactive customer service. Here's how to adapt to them. 

1. Ask feedback from customers and visitors actively 

All proactive customer support ideas pivot around the needs and wants of customers. So it is only wise to not assume what they want and ask them directly. Even a happy customer would have a suggestion that you from a business food not have stumbled upon (at least anytime soon). 

Having real-time, first-hand information from your visitors and customers gives all your business silos the right direction to move in. 

Also, when you ask for feedback, you are creating a positive perception of your brand in the minds of your customers. People always love a brand that constantly strives to deliver a good customer experience, and asking for feedback shows just that.

There are many ways a business can accumulate valuable customer feedback. 

This can be done by conducting CSAT and NPS surveys through chatbots every time a customer is about to leave your website. Or, your customer service agents or account managers can ask pre-determined questions during calls with customers when needed.

Of course, you will have to find the right method of collecting feedback that would suit your business. For better understanding, read more on NPS and CSAT

Here's a proactive customer service example by PayPal asking for customer feedback:

PayPal-proactive-customer-service-example
Source

2. Announce the mistake, rectify, and apologize as soon as you find out

This can save you from a PR disaster and a ton of angered customers. It will also position you as a responsible brand.

Accepting the unavoidable situations, bloops, and disasters made by your business as soon as possible -- might sound counter-intuitive, but it is very good for your brand. 

One, the fact you're owning up is good, and second, you're also sending across a message that your brand/business is human, which gives a deeper sense of relatability to people. 

Here's another proactive customer service example of how KFC once ran into a shortage of chicken that made it shut 700 odd outlets in the UK and how it communicated with the people about it.

KFC-proactive-service-approach
Source: KFC

Here's a tweet from the fast-food giant on the same issue.

Source

This is KFC, a huge brand being real and sympathetic with a tinge of humor in the beginning. Indeed a great PR move.

3. Take advantage of the right tools

There are many tools that can help you concretize your proactive customer experience ideas. 

Tools leveraging technology like conversational-AI can reach out to customers first and start a personalized conversation.

Here's another real-time proactive customer service example:

Virgin Media is a British telecommunications company that provides telephone, television, and internet services in the United Kingdom. It has around 2,500 engineers in the UK offering free-of-cost servicing for broadband customers.

However, they realized that, on average, 10% of all their service appointments fail, largely because their customers forget about the appointments. This had a huge utilization and cost implication for Virgin Media.

Therefore, they have started proactively communicating with their customers across various channels to remind them of appointments. They did this by using technology from Contact Engine to ensure that customers never missed an appointment.

This caused a massive reduction of all the failed appointments, saving Virgin Media millions of pounds per year in utilization and engineer costs. At the same time, it increased customer satisfaction and NPS scores. 

4. Conduct sentiment analysis on social media to know how people genuinely feel about your product

You will get the best critique of your brand or business through social media. People are very frank about the opinions on social media platforms. To be proactive in your customer experience strategy, you need to get a whiff of the sentiments associated with your brand floating around on social media. 

To do this, you don't have to manually scourage yourself through social media. Tools like sentiment analysis and reputation management software can help you.

Sentiment analysis tools can tell you whether your brand is being discussed positively or otherwise on social media. It scans through social media and tracks positive and negative words in comments and feeds, amongst other things. 

Reputation management software automatically notifies you when your brand is mentioned anywhere on any social media platform and helps you respond to them easily from one place. Here's Birdeye Software doing just the same.

BirdEye’s-review-response-tool
Source

Here's how active listening to your social media followers and customers looks like.

Morton's Steakhouse discovered a social media entrepreneur's playful tweet suggesting if he could get steaks to deliver to him at the airport when he landed. To his delight and surprise as well, he saw a tuxedo-clad Morton's employee was waiting for him upon arrival, with steaks in hand. 

This story went viral and earned the Steakhouse a reputation that makes this incident an interesting proactive customer service example.

Morton's-Steakhouse-proactive-story
Source

5. Have an elaborate knowledge-base integrated Chatbot online to solve FAQs easily

Another pre-emptive way of providing customer service is to give your customers and visitors a good amount of information in the right way. This is the best way to mitigate any possible customer support issue. 

Sharing information about your product or services could be done in many ways. Here are some of the efficient ones: 

  • Adding FAQs to your website 
  • Having a rick knowledge-base library 
  • Integrating knowledge-base to live chat or chatbots 
  • Having video tutorials on the website

Learn more about how the knowledge base in chatbot integration can do wonders for your business here.

Here's a proactive customer service example by Debenhams, a UK retailer. Debenhams is offering adequate information to deliver a good proactive customer experience. Debenhams has come up with comprehensive buying guides on their website. This helps them with: 

  • Helping customers make a perfect choice while buying 
  • Reducing returns, which saves company resources 
  • More sales
  • Enhanced customer experience 

Debenhams-proactive-knowledge-base-approach
Source

6. The team and the culture 

Proactive customer support is not just about utilizing the right tools, strategies, and ideas, but also culture and value. 

As mentioned above, proactive customer support is all about keeping the customer first, and this attitude comes from within and then moves outwards. 

It is imperative for CXOs to provide adequate training to new employees and old on how to strategize proactive customer support ideas. 

Training should be mandatory for all. While the employees on the front line that have to deal with customers will be trained differently from those who would not have to interact directly with a customer, everyone in the organization should get some training regarding its proactive culture and vision.

HR managers should also prefer to onboard employees, especially for the sales and support department, who can intuitively provide proactive customer support. 

When not to be Proactive?

The answer to this is - every time" because that's being idealistic and not at all practical. 

Since even when you can come up with all things that go wrong, communicate with your customers about it, there are still chances of things getting out of order, and that's normal. 

Also, there is a benefit of customers reaching out to you about their problems first, i.e., reactive customer service. This will help you adapt and grow.

For example, if a customer asks if you sell a particular product or a service, this product or service might be complementing what you are actually selling. This can give you an idea of potential products to sell. 

In conclusion 

It can be said that even though proactive customer service is the best any business, regardless of their size or type, can implement, it should also be noted that one has to strike a balance. 

The best customer experience strategy would be a combination of both, yet all the while focusing on the customer. 

We hope you find this blog of actionable value.

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