Why Reactive Customer Service Isn’t Enough

Gladly Team

Read Time

5 minute read

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Customer service is a vital part of any business. It’s what makes customers feel seen, heard, and taken care of, especially when an issue arises. However, simply responding to customers’ messages, emails, and texts is no longer enough. Today’s customers expect brands to anticipate their needs and go above and beyond when it comes to providing excellent customer service.

That said, here is everything you need to know about reactive customer service, why winning brands need to rely on a mix of both reactive and proactive customer service measures, and a few reactive customer service examples that can help you understand where your own approach may be falling short.

What Is Reactive Customer Service?

Reactive customer service is the process of responding to requests or questions that customers initiate. Typically, it’s in response to the customer having a question or an issue with your brand, product, or services.

Examples of Reactive Customer Service

As the basis for most brands’ customer service strategies, reactive customer service is everywhere. Here are some examples you might be familiar with:

  • Investing in a call center to tackle customer questions or concerns
  • Responding to help requests on social media
  • Replying to “help” emails

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Advantages of Reactive Customer Service

Reactive customer service is a must-have for any business because it’s inevitable for customers to have questions or concerns that only a customer service agent can address. Additionally, once you have the right reactive customer service measures in place, it can be cost-effective and easy to scale.

Disadvantages of Reactive Customer Service

On the flip side, reactive support puts the onus on customers to ask for help. As a result, their frustrations may be exacerbated by long wait times, which can transform minor issues into big headaches.

Without the right tools, reactive customer service means heavy investments in your customer support team, taking up resources that could be applied elsewhere. Additionally, reactive customer service doesn’t provide the opportunity for support agents to cross-sell or upsell, which are key revenue drivers in businesses with an optimized customer service strategy.

Why Reactive Customer Service Isn’t Enough

Reactive customer service is a first step, but it’s not enough. With more brands to choose from than ever before, today’s shoppers are no longer satisfied with businesses that simply respond to their requests. Instead, they seek out those that anticipate their needs and provide them with assistance before they reach out.

Reactive Customer Service vs. Proactive Customer Service

So, what is the opposite of reactive customer service? It’s proactive customer service. Unlike reactive customer service, where you respond to something that has happened, proactive customer service uses data to help customers before they contact you, as well as find opportunities to deliver surprise and delight. (Think of reactive customer service as putting out fires and proactive customer service as preventing them from sparking in the first place.) For companies wanting to emulate customer-centric behavior and culture, proactive customer service is a great place to start.

Proactive customer service can be as simple as:

  • Creating a robust FAQ section on your website so customers can independently find solutions to their questions
  • Adding a small, unexpected freebie to every order for a memorable unboxing experience
  • Implementing a product recommendation carousel to help shoppers find precisely what they are looking for, saving them time and effort

68% of respondents find it appealing when the customer service agent is knowledgeable expert on the brand and product

Additionally, proactive service often provides openings for brands to cross-sell or upsell products to their customers, which is crucial in transitioning service teams into revenue drivers.

Proactive Customer Service Example: Deckers

Deckers (the parent company of shoe brands Ugg, Hoka, Teva, and Sanuk) unlocked great results by integrating Gladly’s Answers knowledge base to their site. Having this knowledge base allowed Deckers to create a single source of truth, so customers could access the most current and accurate solutions to their questions and issues, no matter which channel they used.

The results? Not only did this strategic move help Deckers reduce call volumes, freeing up support agents to focus on other opportunities to deliver proactive service, but the company’s overall service levels improved by 40%.

For more insights on what customers expect from a modern online shopping experience, check out Gladly’s 2022 Customer Expectations Report.