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Customer service is not just about fixing customer issues when they arise. It’s also about anticipating customer needs before they reach out, as well as finding ways to deliver surprise and delight. This strategy of anticipatory customer support is known as proactive customer service.
If your brand primarily operates with reactive customer service, adding new proactive service measures can feel overwhelming, as you’ll need to invest resources into uncovering customers’ most common pain points. Luckily, if you’re unsure how to get started with proactive customer service, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s dive into the importance of being proactive in customer service, some proactive customer service examples, and tips on how to implement your own proactive customer service strategy.
What Is Proactive Customer Service?
Proactive customer service occurs when companies provide solutions or information addressing common customer issues before the customer must contact customer service. This improves customer experience and alleviates repetitive customer service tasks.
Proactive customer service focuses on:
- Anticipating your customer’s needs, such as introducing new products they may like
- Solving problems before they occur, which prevents issues from becoming serious enough for customers to contact a support agent
- Creating a customer experience that goes above and beyond, including past the point of purchase
The Importance of Being Proactive in Customer Service
Proactive customer service keeps customers happy and engaged, which over time, boosts customer retention and drives more sales. In the long run, this also translates to budget savings for customer support as fewer customers need help from live agents.
In Gladly’s 2022 Customer Expectations Report, 59% of consumers said they would recommend a brand to a friend simply because of its high-quality customer service. Similarly, 72% of shoppers are willing to spend more with a brand that offers a great customer experience.
The evidence is clear: providing proactive service to your shoppers not only provides an even better user experience, but also benefits your business via budget savings, increased retention, and even word-of-mouth referrals from your loyal fans.
Proactive Customer Service Examples
Proactive customer service is everywhere, from a waiter filling up your water glass before it’s empty to a flight attendant offering to change your seats so your family can sit together. When it comes to online selling and services, here are some examples you might have experienced:
- A brand reaching out via a chatbox after you’ve unsuccessfully tried to apply a coupon code twice when checking out
- A retailer sending you a text message informing you that your order is delayed, with a link to a real-time map tracker
- A service provider giving you a phone call to confirm your appointment the day before, as well as asking if you have any questions or special requests
Proactive Customer Service Case Study: KURU Footwear
KURU Footwear is a great example of a brand that prioritizes proactive customer service. They’ve created a cycle where proactive customer service feeds into their product development, ensuring that they’re approaching their product offerings based on real-time customer feedback.
President and Integrator of KURU Footwear, Sean McGinnis, shared a specific example of how KURU surveys customers post-checkout to continually inform their product development:
“The minute you make that purchase we say, ‘Hey why did you buy these specific shoes today? Is it for a specific job that you do, like a work job, or what are the things that you plan on using them for?’ We gather that data and provide that feedback to our product team so they can understand why our customers are buying that specific pair of shoes.”
How to Be Proactive in Customer Service
The key to delivering proactive customer service is gathering the necessary data and applying it to relevant tactics to anticipate your customers’ needs.
Here are some tips to help you get started:
- Ask for feedback. A simple survey or questionnaire can be a starting point. Use questions like, “What do you wish we had done more of?” or “How can we improve your shopping experience with us?” This will help you gauge how customers feel about your products, services, and company. You can also use this feedback to find opportunities for preempting issues or adding elements of delight.
- Build a knowledge base. A knowledge base is a place on your website where customers can easily find all the information they need to know about your brand, products, and policies. Rather than reaching out to your support team, customers can use your knowledge base to troubleshoot their issues independently.
- Add product recommendation features. By helping customers save time they otherwise would have spent searching for new products, you’re enhancing their experience and setting them up for success.
- Monitor social media. Just like surveys and questionnaires, social listening using social media is another way to uncover insight into what customers are saying about your brand.
- Launch a loyalty program. In addition to offering discounts and special offers as incentives, consider giving away unexpected freebies or exclusive merchandise to show your appreciation for customers’ loyalty. Again, proactive customer service is also about going above and beyond in ways customers weren’t expecting.
- Own up to mistakes. Proactive customer support means informing customers about issues before they discover there’s a problem. For example, if their order is delayed, let customers know well ahead of time, apologize for any inconvenience, and offer them a solution (e.g., a discount on their next order).
2022 Customer Expectations Report