How being proactive can deliver better customer experiences
People are happier if they are in control. That‘s why customers expect to be kept informed when something will be delivered or someone will turn up to install, service, or repair something. If something goes awry it is essential that you proactively let customers know before they encounter the problem.
Proactive customer service is all about an organisation making the first move – helping customers by informing them in advance about a problem, or providing a solution to minimise any inconvenience that may occur. This article looks at the benefits of providing a proactive service, what’s needed to minimise the impact of these delays on customers, and how you can turn potentially bad experiences into positive ones.
Three key benefits of proactive service
There are numerous benefits to providing proactive customer service for both the customer, and the business:
Saves customers time & effort
Providing customers with simple, proactive notifications makes their lives easier. It allows them to use their time more efficiently and reduces the overall effort and friction in a customer journey. By proactively contacting customers you re-set their expectations and remove their need to contact you, so allowing you to manage the communications and deliver a better experience. Gartner has shown that proactive customer service results in a full percentage point increase in a brand’s net promoter, customer satisfaction, or customer effort score.
Being proactive demonstrates that an organisation is actively trying to keep their promises to customers. Acting transparently, and anticipating and resolving problems before they occur, shows you value customers and helps create trust. According to Microsoft 70% of customers have a more favourable view of brands that offer or contact you with proactive customer service notifications.
Reduces cost to serve
By proactively reaching out to customers you can significantly reduce the volume of inbound contact centre enquiries by removing their reason to contact you. This, along with automating basic customer enquiries, allows you to redeploy your people to focus on complex and emotional customer issues where the human touch really adds value.
Putting proactive service into action
Proactivity sounds really simple but in reality, it can be complicated to deliver well because you need to have a clear understanding of what your customers expect, the infrastructure in place to deliver this, and recognise the impact it will have on the organisations structure and culture. Areas to consider are:
What to proactively communicate
Some of what needs to be communicated is fairly obvious such as not delivering on a customer promise, or delays and changes that impact on orders or services. But there are other things which could also benefit from proactive communication. The best place to start is the reasons why customers contact you, tracking reoccurring problems, and monitoring this on an on-going basis to capture new issues.
To deliver proactive service requires alignment of the various technology and legacy systems across an organisation. They need to join together across business silos such as logistics, operations, marketing, as well as, the platforms that are used by customers and frontline staff to support them. The proactive service needs to include all the channels that customers interact on and prefer to be communicated on – websites, mobile apps, live chat, video, email, SMS, customer portals, call centres and AI enabled channels (chatbots & virtual assistants).
Currently proactive services are mainly being used to track the process of orders or to inform customers of delays in delivery of products or services. As well as, helping businesses to grow sales with a well-timed chat message offering help on a webpage; reaching out to customers when an item comes back into stock; special offers or promotions on an item they were interested in; or a loyalty programme for future discounts. The potential of proactive services goes far beyond what they are currently used for and are only limited by your imagination.
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