How to Make the Shift from Reactive to Proactive Customer Service

By Dale Holub

Customer service is evolving faster than ever before. With rapid adoption of digital channels and soaring customer expectations, many businesses are reacting to changes to keep up rather than being proactive to gain market share.

Reactive customer service is a given for most businesses. It’s commonplace to take action only after there is a problem. Yet, today’s service requires being able to do more than respond. It’s now essential to anticipate customer needs to provide seamless, personalized service throughout the entire customer journey. What causes reactive customer service? It can be a lack of knowledge, insufficient resources or limiting contact center technology.

Why Is Proactive Customer Service Important?
There are many benefits to providing proactive customer service. First, it decreases support calls. By being proactive, you can identify issues and resolve them before then turn into problems. This increases a number of important SLAs, including first call resolutions. It also decreases the number of escalated calls.

Proactive communication also enables you to better manage conversations with customers. One angry customer can share his or her experience across a variety of social channels to their online community without you being able to respond. By consistently being proactive, you can address issues before they wind up on Facebook, Twitter or other channel, saving your brand from considerable damage.

So, how can you increase your ability to offer proactive customer service? Here are some of the strategies that the most successful brands leverage:

Monitor Customer Conversations
Whether they have a positive or negative interaction, customers talk. And, it’s more likely than ever to include conversations on social media channels. This is why it’s important to be able to listen to what they’re saying so that you can proactively respond. If it’s a negative comment, the most appropriate way to respond is with an apology and a plan of action. Interestingly, responding proactively to a negative expeience can impress customers enough to become brand loyalists. Think of it this way – every positive or negative comment is an opportunity to build your brand.

Today’s omnichannel contact center solutions provide the ability to monitor customer conversations across every communication channel. The next step is being able to respond to them as quickly as possible.

Be Quick to Apologize for Mistakes
Even the most efficient, customer-focused business can make a mistake. Yet, it’s always better to learn about these issues before your customers do. With speech and text analytics, you can pick up on emerging service-related trends before they become full-blown public relation disasters. With the technology to identify a potential widespread problem at its inception, you can keep your customers updated on what is happening while making corrections before others find out.

Encourage Feedback
Asking for feedback after a sale or interaction is among the easiest and most effective ways to be proactive. Rather than focusing on closing out a single interaction, the goal should be on retaining an ongoing relationship with a customer. Proactive feedback can be as simple as asking if customers are satisfied in an email or as complex as a mailed survey that is tailored to specific target customers.

Offer Plenty of Self-Help Options
Increasingly, customers prefer self-help over assisted interactions. By offering proactive self-help options, such as a comprehensive website, an up-to-date knowledge base and an easy-to-navigate IVR, you can reduce the number of customers escalating issues to a voice channel.

Consider Live Chat
Customers commonly want assistance while perusing a website. Yet, if you’re just waiting for them to contact you via another communication channel, you are likely losing valuable business. Proactively offering live chat to customers can encourage them to take the next step in the sales cycle. Not only is it convenient, it adds a human touch to an otherwise automated interaction. Live chat also increases conversions which ultimately helps your bottom line.

Monitor Customer Actions
How do your customers use your website or products? If you don’t know, you’re not alone. Yet, an important part of digital marketing is capturing specific data on customer actions. With this information, you can begin to segment customers, based on their actions and tailor content and marketing offers for them. For example, it can be important to identify customers who buy most often. You may want to offer them a token of your appreciation for their continued business. There are many applications that enable you to monitor how your customers are interacting with you. The key is to find a solution that gathers this data across every channel to provide the clearest picture.

Making the shift from reactive to proactive often requires a new customer experience plan, as well as an investment in new technology. This is why it’s important to consult with a leader in contact center solutions that can guide you on the specific proactive customer service solutions and applications that may be right for you.