proactive customer service

Proactive Customer Service Explained (And How To Provide It)

Did you ever wonder why some companies have such loyal customer bases compared to others? There’s no secret formula to customer retention. If you make your customers feel cared for and valued, they are more likely to stick with your product or service. 8 out of 10 customers are even willing to pay more if it means they get better customer service.

Whichever way you look at it, the bottom line is that customer service goes a very long way towards boosting your company revenue.

As a call center, how do you support your customers in a way that will make them feel appreciated and cared for? Proactive customer service is the answer as the following article highlights.

In this post:

What is proactive customer service?

The definition of “proactive” is, “actions designed to anticipate problems or seize opportunities.” In the same vein, proactive customer service should get ahead of your customers’ problems. In other words, give them what they need before they even know that they need it.

A familiar scenario

Imagine you work from home and your WiFi goes down unexpectedly. You’re trying to figure out if the problem is your router, or if it’s the broadband company. You use your cell phone network to Google it, but you can’t figure out the issue.

You frantically search for your Internet service provider’s customer service number online. You finally locate it, but then have to go through the whole process of waiting on hold for some time before you can speak to an agent. When you eventually get someone on the line, they explain that there is a service problem in your area. You’re told that they’re working to fix it, but they don’t know when things will be back up and running as normal again.

This interaction leaves you even more frustrated, especially because you wasted so much time just trying to figure out what was wrong. In such a scenario, how could the company have implemented proactive service to create a better customer experience?

Get ahead of issues before customers reach out

They could have immediately sent out an automated text message to all their customers affected by the service outage. The message could have both explained the problem and provided a timeline for its resolution. It’s a win-win all round because it alleviates customer frustration while managing expectations and preventing a huge influx of calls for agents to handle.

No matter what product or service a company offers, things aren’t going to be perfect all the time. But even when things do go wrong, you can still make your customers feel valued.

proactive customer service

Proactive vs reactive customer service – what’s the difference?

The frustrating above scenario demonstrates traditional customer service. The call center knew there was a problem, but they waited for customers to get in touch with them. They also didn’t take the additional steps to relieve customer pain points by determining a timeline for how quickly they would be able to reinstate their service.

This type of customer service can be termed “reactive”. The call center reacted to the customers who reached out to them, instead of proactively making first contact.

“Firefighting” has its place, but in most situations, it shouldn’t be the first option. Preventing a fire is easier than trying to put it out and repairing damage after it’s already occurred.

How can proactive customer service benefit your call center?

Why should a call center invest resources anticipating issues before they arise? It may seem like it’s not worth the cost, but this presumption is short-sighted. Tackling customer pain points proactively has many long-term benefits for any call center. Here are a few of them below.

1. Improve customer retention

Even if your company has a great product, it’s not always enough to retain customers. One frustrating or unpleasant interaction with your company can lead to them jumping ship. Proactive customer service can foster company loyalty more than anything else your company can do. Customers are more likely to stick with a brand if they feel like they are valued. 

2. Reduce call volumes

A huge percentage of calls received by inbound call centers are unnecessary and could have been avoided if proactive customer service was implemented. 20-30% of call center volume consists of callbacks from customers with unresolved issues. If these customer concerns are proactively tackled, it can significantly reduce your overall call volume.

proactive customer service reduces call volume

3. Generate new revenue opportunities

Proactive customer service is not just about getting ahead of problems, it’s also about making the most out of opportunities. For example, a mobile phone service provider might contact a customer to let them know they’re due an upgrade. The customer is pleasantly surprised, and the company can retain that customer for an additional two years.

4. Protect your online reputation

Yes, customers will go online to complain about your company when something goes wrong. 33% of people in the US have used social media to complain about a brand. If your customers have a negative experience with your company, it’s not enough to just hope it will get brushed under the carpet. Word travels fast online, and this can impact the reputation of your company quickly. Use proactive customer service to get ahead of problems before they snowball into a PR disaster.

Outbound contact can be both scalable & affordable

Outbound contact doesn’t have to obliterate your call center budget. It may have been expensive to implement in the past, but thanks to modern technology, this is no longer the case.

Here are a few ways to provide outbound contact that is scalable and affordable.

1. Switch to VoIP

Dedicated phone lines cost money to maintain, but luckily there is now a far cheaper alternative. By switching to VoIP (using the internet to make calls), you can cut your operational expenditure by 20-30%.

voip in proactive customer service

2. Create a blended contact center

Worried that you’ll need to hire more agents to handle outbound calls? This doesn’t need to be the case. Blended contact centers where both inbound and outbound calls are managed in the same place, typically boast higher rates of customer satisfaction and lower ASA (average speed of answer). Agents working in blended environments can proactively check in on their customers, and they have the skills to manage a greater array of problems.

3. Automate outbound call processes

Most outbound call center processes can be automated with the right software to meet your business requirements. When utilizing automated outbound calling, calls can be placed in a virtual queue, allowing agents to pick up tasks whenever they become available.

4. Use a deeply integrated CRM

When your CRM software can grab data from multiple channels, it makes managing outbound contact infinitely easier. Need to know when a customer should be contacted? Your CRM will notify you when there’s a problem with their account.

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