Deliver Proactive Customer Service
After completing this module, you’ll be able to:
- Explain why proactive service matters.
- List methods to deliver proactive service.
- Implement tactics to create customer advocates.
Technology is transforming the contact center from a place that used to just fix problems into a real business driver. But this change is happening against a backdrop of consumer dissatisfaction. According to Harvard Business Review, 81 percent of people would rather use self-service than engage with customer service. This negative perception of the contact center presents challenges for innovative managers who want to start shifting the conversation.
One way to improve the perception of your contact center is to employ proactive customer service practices, where instead of waiting for customers to reach out with problems, you pre-empt complaints by reaching out to the customer. This allows service departments to handle some issues before the customer feels the need to get in touch. It also reassures customers that the department has their best interests in mind.
Connecting with your customers just to say “hello” helps establish and maintain good relationships. Here are some great reasons to reach out.
- Check in periodically. Celebrate things like birthdays and anniversaries, and consider including a coupon or deal.
- Acknowledge milestones. If they’ve purchased a certain amount or been a customer for a year, thank them.
Contacting customers before anything goes wrong can help foster a sense of trust. Here are a few ways your contact center can start building stronger relationships.
- Anticipate needs. If you know that a product has an 18-month lifespan, set a reminder for 18 months after purchase to see if the customer needs a replacement.
- Advise on warranties. Reach out before warranties expire or around regularly scheduled maintenance.
When connecting, do so on the channel that best serves your audience. If these customers are heavily text dependent, talk to them there. Do they use your app a lot? If so, use in-app service to engage. The idea is to contact them on the channel where they are most likely to engage with you.
One of the biggest benefits of proactive service is that it gets people talking about your brand in a positive way. With a little extra attention, your customers may become more than customers—they might become advocates. Advocates can be particularly valuable because:
- Peer-to-peer recommendations are an extremely effective form of marketing.
- Customer advocates are passionate about the brand and willing to spread the word without encouragement.
- They reach networks the brand may not be able to access.
A contact center doesn’t have to be only about fixing things that are broken. It can be a real business driver and should partner with other departments, like marketing and sales to amplify your company’s message. To promote customer advocacy:
- Create contests and public recognition in social media channels.
- Establish generous referral reward programs. With good incentives, existing customers are more likely to refer new customers. (This also tends to motivate the customer to answer questions and do the selling.)
- Offer insider access, such as sneak previews of products, early delivery of products, or tickets to company events.