5 Tips for Implementing a Proactive Consumer Support Strategy

proactiveThe typical approach to customer service is to wait until the customer calls you with a problem. While training can ensure they have a good experience when they do reach out, it doesn’t show them that you have an ongoing, vested interest in making sure their needs are satisfied. This requires enacting a “proactive customer service” strategy, or efforts to solve customers’ problems before they call you – in some instances, before they even know they have a problem.

These kind of endeavors do more than just satisfy the customer. They can reduce call volumes by as much as 30 percent and increase customer retention rates by 3-5 percent, according to a recent Enkata report.

So want to know how you do this? Here’s a few tips:

Reach Out to Customers for Their Feedback…Regularly

Customer service is about giving customers what they want, which means you first have to find out what that is. It sounds really basic (and it is), but you have to have a standardized process or guidelines to get value from doing this.

Businesses that regularly check in with customers can easily identify areas of weakness and correct them before customers become unhappy. This can be standardized with something like a customer service or feedback system that automates the process of sending customer feedback emails (Things like “How are things going?” or “Is there anything we can do to make you happier with us?”) Or, you could implement a process requiring employees to manually reach out.

For example, WePay, a company that helps small businesses accept credit card payments via an online platform, requires that their team actually make regular telephone calls and site visits to solicit feedback. Their executives claim this is a huge contributor to their high satisfaction rating, which is now more than 90 percent.

Communicate Known Issues Before Customers Find Out

It’s always better for customers to hear about a problem directly from you instead of realizing the product or service doesn’t do what they need it to, when they need it.

If your company identifies a product- or customer-wide problem, you can build customer trust and avoid damaging PR by just apologizing and letting them know you’re working on the solution (or ideally, offer them the solution in the same communication). You could even throw in a discount, refund or something else to soften the blow. Also give them a specific way they can contact you immediately if they still have questions or further issues. (Hint: not a form they send into an ether that prompts an email two days later).

Listen to Social Media Conversations About Your Brand

If you’re not paying attention to what customers are saying about you online, you’re missing key opportunities to identify broader reaching issues that can be proactively addressed (what I suggested in the last tip). Additionally, you can surprise and delight the customer who mentioned your brand by responding in a context where they maybe didn’t expect a response. Social listening software uses key words to filter out these messages and route them to an agent to respond

These responses don’t always have to be in response to something negative. They can also just be thank you’s and other notes of appreciation. Because it’s in the social space, these above-and-beyond conversations can also be easily shared and viewed by others.

Be Rigorous with Your FAQs

Customers won’t always call you when they have an issue. They don’t want to sit on hold and talk to 20 different people before their problem is solved. So providing FAQs gives them another choice for answering their questions, and proves to them that you care about making that process as easy as possible. This is additionally important when you consider a Forrester survey that revealed that 57 percent of customers will give up on an online purchase altogether if finding the answer to their question proves too difficult.

Proactive customer service doesn’t just help you keep the customers you have happy. It can also turn your customers into advocates for your brand, which is a valuable marketing tool for driving new business.

Offer Live Chat on Your Website

Offering chat enables your proactive support in a couple ways:

  • One, it prevents the customer from having to dig around on your website for the support line.
  • And two, it gives you the chance to uncover issues from customers that didn’t plan to call you in the first place, but still had an issue.

The Forrester survey (mentioned above) found that 44 percent of respondents believe the ability to get quick answers from a live chat representative during an online purchase is “one of the most important features a website can offer.”

Proactive customer service doesn’t just help you keep the customers you have happy. By turning your customers into advocates for your brand, it becomes a marketing tool that drives new business.

[custom_author=ashleyv]

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