This simple scenario plays out all the time, all around us – and possibly in all kinds of businesses. Often, businesses simply focus on closing the sale without thinking long-term. It is no secret that having a recurring customer base is more important for growth than only acquiring new customers. And yet, a lot of times, businesses struggle to understand how they can retain their existing customers in a market that is so competitive. Sometimes, the solution can be as simple as saying “sorry, we made a mistake” even before the customer realises it – and that is what we call Proactive Customer Service.
What Exactly Do We Mean by Proactive Customer Service?
Usually, businesses act on problems after they have been brought up by the customer. However, today, some companies go an extra step – they anticipate potential problems and notify the customer beforehand. If something can be rectified, they would even do that as well. Think of how Amazon notifies buyers about possible delays in product delivery – as buyers, we would obviously be less upset over the delay.
Proactive customer service tells you as a customer that the business is not simply interested to close you off as a sale but to continue doing business with you as long-term partners. Chances are, you will feel more inclined towards staying with this seller instead of trying out someone new.
How is Proactive Customer Service Different from Reactive Customer Service?
Proactive and Reactive Customer Service styles have a very simple difference – when you are engaging in Proactive Customer Service, you anticipate problems, create solutions and inform the customer about them even before the customer can actually come to know about it.
Acting upon problems only when they are brought up by the customer is what is referred to as Reactive Customer Service. While we aren’t saying that Reactive Customer Service does not have any benefits at all, this system lacks the foresight and preparedness that comes with Proactive Customer Service. By extension, not only will your customers have to wait longer for resolutions, but your internal team may also get overwhelmed trying to solve all the complaints that come in.
Here are six ways Proactive Customer Service can help your business:
- Improved activation and customer engagement: Proactive customer service makes a business stand out. While businesses that handle complaints well are good, businesses that anticipate complaints and solve the problem even before it can be brought up are great. As a result, customers can feel more at home with such businesses and a sense of familiarity starts to build-up.
Customers of such businesses are more willing to try out other products, recommend the company to friends and acquaintances and of-course, stay back. A study by inContact even suggested that about 87% customers would like to be proactively reached out to by companies. 73% even admitted to have formed a more positive image of the company.
- Help your customers help themselves: Proactive customer service is not just about solving things when an actual problem is identified, but also about equipping the customer with enough resources and information so that his/her experience remains as smooth and hassle-free as possible. This can be something as simple as creating an FAQ or Help page that can guide them.
Platforms exist that are just perfect tools to use for this thanks to their ease of use for you as a business and ease of access for your customer. Anything more complex can cost you the interest of your customer.
- Increased sales: This is a no-brainer – when you are proactively showing your customers that you are making extra efforts to make them happy, they will reciprocate by relying more and more on you for their requirements. After all, aren’t they convinced that they will never be cheated by you?
- Better product management: By being proactive, you are solving problems even before they come up. This way, most of the common issues that come up take care of themselves with minimal effort from your side. In fact, a study by Enkata even showed that customer service calls can be reduced by 20-30% over a 12-month period. Very few issues would actually be so unique that they would require special attention. So, with proactive customer service, you save on the time and effort on most issues, and can put these resources to better use. As a result, your team can work on managing your product better rather and more efficiently.
- Improved customer insights and feedback: When you yourself go to your customers and tell them about potential troubles that you have identified, and also tell them what steps you have taken to rectify the issue, you are showing commendable honesty and commitment to protecting their interests. This will obviously lead to a significant improvement in feedback.
- Increased user love and loyalty: It’s all about making things simpler and easier. With proactive customer service, you reduce the efforts that have to be put in by the customer when faced with an issue. A study by InfoLink found that 83% customers end up simply repeating the same things over and over again to multiple customer service representatives – and that can be very frustrating. The easier the customer feels it is to do business with you, the more like he will want to stay loyal to you.
How Do You Get Started with Proactive Customer Service?
So now that you know why Proactive Customer Service is so good for your business, you are probably wondering how to get started. Here are some essential steps listed out for you. Remember, not all may be applicable to you – feel free to build up on the points that are most relevant to your business and the stage at which your company is at:
- Study, Study, and Study Again
Assuming your company is completely new to Proactive Customer Service, the very first thing you will need to do is to understand your customers and market – after all, you will not be able to provide effective solutions when you haven’t understood the problems well, will you?
Make sure you spend ample time and energy into research. Some vital elements to study include:
- All the complaints and feedback that is currently coming in
- What your customers say about you online (such as on Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
- Trends in problem-solving your own team generally employees to solve problems.
2. Create an Information Center to Help Your Customers with Simpler Issues
As you analyse the feedback coming in, you will probably notice that a lot of issues are rather simple and have easy solutions. Then why not create an information center of sorts that can help the customer solve most issues himself/herself? This will save your customer a lot of time and effort on reaching out to you for a solution, and will also let your own Customer Support team focus better on more serious issues. Knowledge Base is an excellent platform to explore to create an information center.
3. Invest in Smart Technology
Do not put off investing in useful technology to enhance customer experience. There are a number of apps and services out there that can help you to enhance your customer’s experience. These services can help you to gauge a number of useful things – for example, where are most of your customers getting stuck? What glitches are the customers seeing? Is there a breakdown somewhere in the purchase flow?
With the right kind of services that will enable you to help through co-browsing, live chat, video calls, etc., just imagine how powerful you will be able to facilitate a seamless experience for your customers.
4. Get there First
Using smart technology will notify your customer support of potential issues before they can turn into complaints. As a business, you must leverage this knowledge to bring these issues to the customers’ notice first, and tell them what steps you are taking to sort out the problems. Creating a system and process around this can be very useful for you because your customer support team will not be overworked and at the same time, be better able to handle more serious escalations.
5. Personalise What You Have to Say
By now, you should be able to drive your communication to be more personal. Chances are, you have understood your customers enough to be able to talk to them in a manner that is best suited to them. Since you are trying to be proactive in your approach, it goes without saying that you will have to do so through platforms most preferred by your customers and in tones that are more in sync with their buying habits.
It may not be possible to completely switch from a reactive stance to a proactive one – and of course, it is definitely not possible to be prepared for all kinds of problems. However, there is no denying that a proactive stance in customer service can powerfully transform your growth story for the better. Try taking things one step at a time – small changes can have promising impacts.