Attention all business owners! Are you tired of constantly putting out fires with angry customers? Well, it’s time to take a proactive approach to customer service and avoid getting burned! Get ready to be the hero your customers deserve with our comprehensive guide to proactive customer service. Trust us, your customers will thank you, and you might even get a few standing ovations (or at least some five-star reviews)!
What is Proactive Customer Service?
The customer service experience most people are familiar with is the Reactive experience, where the business is reacting to a customer’s problem and helping them solve it. Proactive customer service on the other hand, as the name suggests, refers to businesses making the first move in a customer-business relationship. Basically, the business assesses any problems or questions customers may have for them preemptively and provides an answer to their troubles before they even have to ask for it.
Expertise Accelerated publication titled “How to Wow Your Customers Every Day in 2022” provides a great overview of the customer service business function in the 2020s, and helpful tips to optimize the general customer experience.
Think about it, how many times have you thought about buying a product, but needed some additional details before you commit to the purchase, only to find that the information you need just isn’t easily available, causing you to simply search for the product elsewhere?
This is most commonly seen in the fashion industry. For example, consider a customer who wants to purchase a shirt, but they have no idea what size would fit them. The brand’s website provides a size chart and, given the disparity in size classification across different countries and even different brands, one can’t just buy something in large size, as it may very well turn out to be a medium in their part of the world.
Such examples are seen all over the business landscape, and many businesses end up losing customers this way right when they are on the cusp of making a successful sale.
In this scenario, if the business were using proactive customer service strategies, it would have a dedicated size chart or even a size calculator for customers to enter their measurements into and figure out what size fits them.
By preemptively solving a highly probable issue customers may run into during the shopping journey, the brand asserts that it knows and cares about its customers, which goes a very long way in building lasting customer-business relationships.
The Benefits of Proactive Customer Service
Mitigates Risk of Brand Damage
We have all had our run-ins with customer support services, and many a time, it’s someone’s horror story on how badly they were treated by a brand they trusted. This is not an isolated occurrence, but rather a pattern that has been observed throughout the business landscape.
American Express surveyed this particular trend and found that Americans tend to tell up to 15 people about a poor customer service experience, double the number of people that get informed about a good customer service experience.
In 2023, public image and brand perception mean everything to a business. One wrong customer interaction can spread like wildfire on the internet, decimating the brand’s carefully cultivated image in a matter of hours.
A proactive customer service model greatly mitigates this risk. Think about it, most of the problems that people typically have with customer support boil down to simple questions that just take too long to be answered.
People want to minimize the need to speak to a brand representative and would much rather just not face any problems at all. Accounting for the potential issues customers may have, and implementing solutions like FAQs, live-chat bots, tutorials, discounts, etc. can really make the difference between an abandoned shopping cart and a successful sale spree.
Saves Money and Manpower
By reducing the number of customers that need help directly from customer support staff, businesses save greatly on the cost of customer service staff, and the staff isn’t under constant pressure to deal with customer issues.
What’s more, the more serious problems that require brand attention can be addressed quicker, not bogged down by casual customer queries.
By making the customer journey as simple as possible, and providing all the information a customer could possibly need before they are forced to ask for it, you are now securing sales that previously would have been lost.
Leveraging Proactive Customer Service Techniques
FAQs and Tutorials
An FAQ section is by far one of the most important proactive customer service measures you can implement in the business. FAQs are by design created to answer questions that a business knows will come up often during the customer journey, and greatly minimize confusion for customers.
A size chart for a fashion brand or addressing health concerns of food products such as soda and chips. By alleviating these frequently asked questions, customers will easily complete their shopping journey and walk out of your store happy.
Data from Microsoft reports that 66% of customers try finding and using self-service solutions proactively provided by the business before they either contact support or abandon the cart, so it is imperative that this 66% have their queries answered and sales secured.
A good example of a brand that is on top of things when it comes to FAQs is Expertise Accelerated. EA is an accounting staff augmentation service provider, which means they need to explain what they do to almost all clients that visit them, as it is a complex business process solution. EA has appropriately designed FAQ for its services and sub-services, and on top of that offers a free consultation with CEO Haroon Jafree to secure clients.
Tutorials do a similar yet different job. They show customers how the product works and what it does, helping make the buying decision easier. Many E-commerce platforms today recognize how big of a boost to sales can be attained this way, so they include videos of the product in action in the product details so customers know exactly what they will be getting.
Making Use of Chatbots as Online Salespersons
By using sophisticated algorithm-driven chatbots, businesses can essentially assign every customer their very own salesperson. Just like in a regular brick-and-mortar store, the chatbot will analyze the customer’s interests as they peruse the product line-up, and appropriately give recommendations or suggestions to help them decide.
With the rise of AI, many businesses have begun to invest in such solutions for themselves. Kindly reports that the self-service and sales-oriented chatbot industry is projected to save businesses up to $11 billion, and the appearance of ChatGPT and other sophisticated AI-driven tools has only driven these numbers higher.
Welcome Customers on Social Media
Customers today do not want to simply be treated as customers, but rather as part of a group, like a family. Having an automated welcome to the business “family” when a customer follows the brand, along with pitching some products that are current bestsellers can help get the ball rolling.
It also encourages the customer to visit your website and begin their customer journey. By proactively acknowledging the customers, you make them feel that the brand cares about each and every one of its customers, which reinforces the idea that they want to support businesses like yours.
Ask for Feedback
The only way to create a proactive customer service model is through feedback analysis. You need to know what issues your customers face when interacting with your brand.
Afterward, you can implement appropriate proactive customer service solutions to minimize these issues as much as possible, picking up the slack for any issues that persist through reactive customer service.
Customers also appreciate when businesses ask them how their experience was with the brand. It again shows that the brand cares about its customers and wants to improve for them. No brand is perfect and there is always more to improve, so frequently surveying customers is a sure-fire way to build up the perfect customer service function for your particular business
Proactive customer service is a requirement for businesses today to drive sales and remain competitive in the market. Reactive customer support can only do so much, so proactive measures must be taken to develop a complete customer service experience that addresses almost all possible concerns a customer may have.
This brief guide is by no means the end-all-be-all, and every industry has its own unique ways of implementing proactive customer service that entrepreneurs should definitely research and consider implementing for continued growth and success.