Some businesses think that proactive customer service is just a buzzword.
But these businesses are making life hard for themselves.
They’re failing their customers too.
In truth, a proactive approach to customer service and support is crucial - both for your customers’ satisfaction and for your own efficiency.
But what is proactive customer service, exactly?
How do you put it into practice?
In this blog, we’ll be revealing all. You’ll learn:
- What proactive customer service really entails
- Why it’s crucial for your business
- How real businesses use it to keep their customers happy
- The tools and techniques you need to put a strategy in place
Let’s dive in.
What is proactive customer service?
Offering proactive customer service means you're solving customer issues before they've even occurred.
There are two main aims of a proactive strategy:
- Limiting the number of customers getting in touch with minor queries.
- Anticipating customer needs, limiting obstacles, and improving the customer experience.
While this might sound tough to achieve, it doesn't have to be.
In fact, you can get started by putting a few simple self-service tools in place.
FAQ pages, knowledge bases, and chatbots, to name a few.
Businesses that offer proactive customer service start by analysing common customer pain points.
They'll also take into account their most common customer queries.
Next, they’ll aim to provide solutions to these issues and queries up front.
In turn, their customers will face less obstacles and experience greater convenience.
It means higher satisfaction and increased business efficiency too.
What is reactive customer service?
Reactive customer service is a more traditional approach to customer support.
This strategy prioritizes channels like live chat, video chat, email, and phone.
It's an essential part of any business.
That said, companies that solely rely on reactive customer service can face some issues. These might include:
- Longer customer waiting times,
- Longer average handling times, and;
- Longer resolution times.
These are some pretty glaring examples of digital customer service mistakes.
Not only will your customers be more frustrated, you'll also see a decrease in efficiency.
So, for best results, take a multifaceted approach.
Proactive customer service will allow you to help more customers with efficiency.
Reactive customer service will allow you to focus on those that really need your help.
Why is proactive customer service important?
Studies show that proactive customer service can reduce call center queries by 20-30%.
In turn, this can reduce operating costs by as much as 25%.
This is because proactive customer service:
- Improves customer satisfaction and retention with fast resolution times,
- Prevents poor customer service mistakes like long waiting times, and finally;
- It takes the load of your contact agents and your channels.
The resources you put in place now will benefit countless customers in the future too.
It means proactive customer service should form an essential part of your customer experience - just like an online customer service solution.
Examples of proactive customer service
There are plenty of ways you can provide your customers with proactive support. For instance:
- Optimising your contact channels and chat triggers.
- Delivery updates can keep your customers in the loop and deflect unnecessary queries.
- Recommended and related product categories can speed up customer search queries.
- Buying guides can help customers find important information without navigating off-page. Take size charts on clothing sites, for example.
- Offering genuine apologies and alternate solutions in the run up to short notice service disruptions.
To illustrate further, let’s take a look at some brands that get proactive customer service right.
Which examples could you use to improve your customer service experience?
Domino’s Pizza isn't the only company to offer delivery notifications and GPS tracking.
Even so, they were one of the first to start offering these updates to their customers.
In fact, they started using their customer service chatbot way back in 2008.
Named 'Dom the Pizza Tracker', this ecommerce chatbot is deceptive in its simplicity.
First, Dom helps customers make their orders.
Second, it keeps customers up to date with their order progress and GPS tracking.
Customers can also save their favourite pizza toppings for their next order.
These are all great perks for customers.
That said, it's Domino's who really benefit.
By anticipating their customer needs using proactive customer service, Domino's:
- Limit the amount of customer queries,
- Increase sales through an easy checkout process, and;
- Foster customer engagement through a fun customer experience.
Whatever your industry, online customers will always want updates on their orders.
Why make them wait when you can offer proactive customer service notifications?
Online fashion retailer ASOS also excels at proactive customer service.
Most of ASOS's customers order clothes in different sizes and styles.
If the clothes they've ordered don't fit or suit them, they'll send them back for an alternative.
As a common issue for ASOS's customers, the company knows they need to make this process as simple as possible.
This simplicity benefits ASOS too.
In fact, 95% of customers are more likely to make a purchase if they know they can return it easily.
It’s one of the reasons why the company now offers paperless returns too.
Not only does this approach produce less waste, it also attracts more customers. It’s win-win.
So, to make their customers’ lives as easy as possible, ASOS always makes sure that their return policy information is ready at hand.
They feature returns process information on their site and app.
They also produce video returns guide and reference the process in their receipt emails too.
They even use QR codes (here's how you can make a QR code) and a quick returns guide within each parcel, further streamlining the returns journey.
These simple tactics are key examples of a brand anticipating customer needs.
So, what simple fixes could you make to offer the same kind of proactive customer service?
Proactive customer service in action
Let’s take a look at a hypothetical example to further illustrate.
Imagine an e-commerce site that specializes in footwear. They've decided they want to offer proactive customer support.
After analysing their site, they make two discoveries.
- Their customers always ask them about their returns policy via live chat.
- They have a huge shopping cart abandonment rate.
With these issues identified, the company can start to anticipate future customer needs and problems.
Their first quick fix is detailing their returns policy on their site.
It means fewer customers get in touch - they've already got the answers they need.
In turn, this frees up the company's live chat queue.
The next step the business takes is shortening their checkout journey.
They also adopt a new email strategy, targeting customers with abandoned carts.
This means fewer customers abandon their carts due to customer tension.
The business can also win back customers that do get distracted, thanks to their new email strategy.
Now, their customers’ previous issues and needs are solved - thanks to proactive customer service.
Examples of reactive customer service
For an example of reactive customer service, think back to the last time you ordered an item online.
If you took to live chat or email to discuss an issue, you experienced reactive customer service.
Of course, this isn't to say that reactive customer service is to be avoided.
It’s just that in the above example, the business could have offered a self-service option to assist you.
That said, sometimes, reactive customer service is crucial. Let's explore why.
Offering reactive customer support
It’s a fact of life: mistakes are made.
Customers might receive the wrong item. They might even receive a faulty product.
Even when products do arrive in perfect condition, some customers need extra guidance.
This is especially true for technical items or products that need assembly.
It’s in these examples where reactive customer service is critical.
So, make sure you're complimenting your proactive customer service efforts.
Make sure you prioritize contact channels like live chat, video chat, and email.
After all, if you don’t have a way for your customers to get in touch, they'll only feel neglected - no matter how many proactive resources you offer.
How do you implement proactive customer service? 8 key tactics
Now that we’ve got a good understanding of proactive customer service, let’s explore how you can best offer it.
Take note of these tactics. How can you use them to improve your digital customer experience strategy?
1. Learn who you’re really serving
To truly offer proactive customer service most, you need to know who your customers are.
But while buyer personas are a useful tool, gathering direct feedback is key.
It'll help you identify the areas in which you need to improve.
So, utilize website engagement tools like customer satisfaction surveys and heatmap software.
Analyse the real issues that your customers' are facing.
2. Be where your customers are
Once you’ve got a good understanding of your audience, examine how you interact with your customers.
For instance, are your customers keen social media users?
If so, they might not be the type of customer that visits your website’s knowledge base.
Instead, they might take to a social post to ask a direct question.
This is just one example of why an omnichannel solution is crucial for online businesses.
Such a solution means you can offer customers availability and convenience when they need it most.
3. Support your support team
Proactive customer service prioritizes self-service resources. But you still need a great support team too.
For instance, say a customer gets in touch via live chat with a common query.
In fact, this query is so common, it's answered in depth in your knowledge base.
If your contact center agents are on point, they’ll be able to direct customers to this resource fast.
But knowing your site and systems is just one aspect of being a great contact agent.
They'll also need to identify, anticipate, and resolve further needs.
So, make sure you keep up to date with your staff’s training.
Offer incentives for great performances too.
Supporting your staff will mean they're engaged and working to their best potential.
4. Offer instant information
If you're serious about offering proactive customer service, this point is crucial.
Content libraries, FAQ pages, and knowledge bases are some of the best self-service options you can offer.
The great thing about this kind of content is that you can design your resources around your industry too. For instance:
- Online clothing retailers can offer sizing guides on product pages.
- SaaS products can offer explainer videos to enlighten your customers.
- Travel and hospitality specialists can offer destination guides and tips. They could even offer package deals, too.
These are just some examples of how you can provide extra value through proactive customer service.
So, take a look at your current offering, as well as your competitors'.
Get creative. What resources could you offer to improve your customer service?
5. Analyze your customer journey
Analysing your current customer journey is a great way to identify common pain points.
These pain points can include user experience issues.
For example, certain elements might be causing frustration for your site’s visitors.
A link might not work as it should.
A graphic on your homepage looks like a button.
Customers might be clicking on these elements, and they might get frustrated when nothing happens.
Either way, it’s these kinds of examples that put obstacles in the way of your customer and your product.
So, make the best use of tools like user recording software. Examine how customers really use your site.
After all, your site's visitors want a seamless customer experience, alongside proactive customer service.
Analysing your current customer journey will help you offer just that.
6. Offer proactive customer service notifications
There’s a reason why delivery tracking and progress updates have become the norm.
If you don’t already offer these kinds of updates for your customers, get started now.
Implementing these kinds of notifications is a quick win for proactive customer service.
Already offer these updates? Take things to the next level by examining what channels you use to offer these updates.
These days, businesses don't have to rely on basic emails to keep customers up to date.
For example, why not try WhatsApp to message your customers with notifications, updates, and news?
Why not revamp your email output and retarget customers too?
7. Prioritize personalisation and convenience
Brands like Netflix and Spotify are big names for several reasons.
One such reason is their dedication to proactive customer service.
These companies know their customers are always looking for new content to enjoy.
It's why they both offer consistent, convenient, and personaliszed recommendations as part of their customer experience.
In essence, they're solving customer issues even before they arise.
So, how could you take inspiration from these streaming giants?
- Could you update your customers on upcoming releases?
- Could you recommend product guides or other content related to customer purchases?
- What about offering automatic discounts for your customers, depending on items purchased?
Whatever your industry, get personal and offer convenience to your customers.
It’s one of the best ways to anticipate and resolve your customers’ needs.
8. Go the extra mile and show value
Imagine you’re looking to book a long-haul flight for a holiday. You’re comparing two airlines’ websites.
One airline offers you the ability to book your tickets and arrange an online boarding pass.
The other airline offers the same kind of system. But they also offer:
- Extra meal and entertainment options, including a full menu and special in-flight movies for kids.
- Extra travel upgrade options, including extra baggage and first-class options.
- Extra information on your destination, including must-see locations.
- Extra booking options, including accommodation, connecting travel, and tickets for local events.
It’s pretty obvious which site would win your business.
The funny part is that both of these airlines will offer the same kind of service in person.
Even so, it's only the second company that proves their dedication to proactive customer service online.
So, remember to show how you’re going the extra mile for your customers.
Always highlight your offers and your testimonials.
Even if great customer service is to be expected, customers still need to see value to convert.
What channels do you need for proactive customer service?
Self-service options are great for your customers.
It’s why chatbots are an essential channel for proactive customer service - whether you deploy them within your website, app, or over social media and WhatsApp.
They can help answer customer queries fast, deflecting customers from your other channels.
Web callbacks are another great option too. They solve long hold times for your customers and limit queues for your staff.
But sometimes, being proactive means offering a helping hand when a customer needs it most.
It means that even traditionally reactive contact channels can be used in a more proactive manner.
To achieve this approach, it’s best to offer an omnichannel solution rather than a multichannel one.
By providing several connected contact options, you can respond to your customers on their favourite channel of choice.
As these channels are connected, you can then escalate interactions to different channels too.
You can even connect solutions like Talkative to CRM systems, allowing you to access vital information about your customers fast.
That said, there’s a few quick ways you can take a proactive approach with your customers today - whatever the channel.
Proactive live chat tips
One example of a live chat best practice is considering where you place your chat triggers.
Analyse your customer journey and the areas in which customers need help.
You can then place triggers on pages where proactive support is most needed.
You could also adopt cobrowsing. It'll help you screen-share with your customers during an interaction.
That way, you can proactively solve the problem of guiding users around your site.
Proactive video chat tips
Video chat is another great option for proactive customer service.
It can help you present demonstrations online, building greater rapport with your customers.
UK retailer Bravissimo even uses it for online fitting services.
It's helped them increase customer engagement and improve efficiency.
What's great about video chat is that you can offer it to any live chat customer too - without interruption.
Instead, you can simply escalate the interaction, ready to serve your customer fast.
Proactive social media tips
43% of customers research products on social media before buying.
Some Millennial and Gen Z customers even shop more over social media than on regular sites.
To target these customers, link up your social channels with social media live chat.
It'll allow your contact center agents to manage all interactions within one dashboard.
That way, you'll always be at hand to talk to your customers - whatever social network they’re using.
Unlike traditional customer service, proactive customer service is all about anticipating your customers' needs.
To get started, think about the following types of questions:
- What types of queries would you want answered fast?
- Where could you provide self-serve answers to those questions?
- How could you deliver maximum convenience to your customers at all times?
- How could you interact and assist the customers that really need it?
By brainstorming questions such as these, you'll be able to start identifying the gaps in your current digital journey and the information your customers might be seeking.
From there, you'll be able to create a strategy to provide these much-needed answers up front.
Still, even with the best intentions in the world, you'll never be able to solve all customer questions in this manner.
In truth then, you're better off by adopting a dual approach:
Not only do you need to provide answers up front with intelligent tools like AI and nudges, you also need human agents on hand to engage your customers at the right time.
And that's where Talkative comes in.
Built for brands understand the importance of the human touch, Talkative is a Consultative Service Platform that helps you better connect and convert your high-value digital customers.
With a fully connected suite of contact channels - from AI chatbots to enhanced live chat and video - Talkative can help you provide proactive service on your customers' favourite channels.
It means a better online experience for them, and higher sales and satisfaction for you.