The majority of customer service consists of us being reactive. Agents answer calls, customer questions and respond to external stimulus.
And although this is fine and perfectly acceptable, it’s time we take customer service a step further.
By being showing initiative and being proactive instead of reactive, we can more easily delight our customers as well as anticipate mishaps, and prevent instead of cure.
Public company updates
Even if your updates will benefit the customer, clients like to be aware of the changes they will encounter and loyal fans will want to try and test all your new features.
Keep them in the loop about the changes your company is going through which can potentially impact them and their experience with your brand.
Organizing an event? launching something new? Be loud about it.
And don’t count on people to remember the first time around. If you need them to take action (install an update, sign up for an event) proactively remind them. People are busy and easily forget. Your message might not have reached them at a convenient time the first time around and they might not have had the opportunity to take action. Be insistent and frequently, but gently nudge them.
When visiting your website
Reaching out through live chat lets visitors know you’re there should they need anything while they browse around.
This isn’t simply about offering live chat and letting customers contact you. Many chat programs offer live-monitoring software which allows you to see who is currently on your site, how long they’ve been on, and on what page as it’s happening. With such a wealth of information, you can make well-thought out moves to engage the visitor and get them to do what you need them to (whether it be to ask a question about your product, prices, delivery).
Proactive live chat can be used to address prospect clients on your website or if your product or service is online based, it can serve to assist customers while they use your product.
To provide them with useful information
WhatsApp and email are great tools to send useful information to your potential and existing clients. Valuable information doesn’t include pushing products or fun facts about your company. It means sending relevant sales, product tips and tricks, and perhaps even industry news that could be of interest.
You don’t want to be that pushy sales guy. You want to be the friend that gives a nudge and provides value when they need it the most. When the time comes and they’re ready to make a purchase, who do you think they will listen to?
To avoid customer complaints
Not everything always goes as planned. And that’s OK. But as a company, you have the responsibility to deliver a certain standard. If for any reason that standard is not met, it’s up to you rectify before it causes widespread damage.
Believe it or not, customers are very forgiving if they know what to expect, even if it’s not the best news. Warning in advance and public apologies can save you from customer backlash which can easily spread like wildfire, harming your brand and extending to what would have been your potential and future clients.
On the web, forums, and social media
Customers don't always talk about you on your networks or tag you properly. Or they could be looking for your services and don’t even know you exist.
This is where your powerful scouting talent can be put to good work. Search the web for potential opportunities including:
- Mentions of your brand name
- Mentions of misspellings of your brand
- Complaints of your competitors
- Questions regarding your sector or products/services you offer
Webinars, specialty forums, and groups as well as standard social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) are great places to start your search.
TIP: An easy way to monitor activity without spending too much time is to set up alerts for keywords through your CRM.
To answer common customer questions
You’ve been in business for a while now and you have a pretty good idea of what your potential clients and existing customers ask for.
Create a proactive customer service system by offering self-service. As I love to say, help customers help themselves and make it easy for them to find the answers they are looking for. Tutorials, videos, forums, ebooks, accessible product demos and FAQ sections all work together to feed the self-help area of customer service.
Save them the hassle of having to call and write to you. Provide easy-to-find and multiple smart search options (“Did you mean…?”) If their answer doesn’t appear, offer alternative solutions. Whatever you do, remember that customers are lazy, the less they’re asked to do, the better.
Proactive customer service is the future of how we attend to our clients. Although we are currently more reactive, to excel and delight, we must increasingly begin to take more initiative and make that first step to reach out.