Proactive customer service: 5 best practices
Your customer is king, especially in 2020. They can choose between multiple brands for pretty much every service or product they use. A lot of times, most of these brands offer about the same when it comes to quality and price, which is why they have to stand out with exceptional customer service instead.
A great example of this is the support team of Rackspace, a cloud infrastructure company. They often get called 'fanatical'. Why? A support agent once ordered pizza for a client during a troubleshooting session. She overheard the customer saying she was hungry. That act gave the customer fuel to power through the session with an ear-to-ear smile on her face.
A great way to go the extra mile for your customers is by changing your customer service approach from reactive to proactive. Instead of waiting for the customer to ask for help, you take the lead and show initiative first. This will leave you with amazing results on customer loyalty, customer satisfaction, and sales.
So, let's dive into proactive customer service. From its definition to 5 best practices.
What is proactive customer service?
There are two different approaches when it comes to offering customer service:
Responsive customer service
This is the most common way of offering customer service. Here's how it works:
- The customer has a problem and asks for support
- The customer service team responds and solves the problem
In this scenario, the company waits for customers to come to them. When they do, the customer service team offers the best service possible to keep their customers happy. Nothing more, nothing less.
Proactive customer service
Proactive customer service is all about making the first move instead of waiting for the customer to do it. It's an easy way to go for that little extra and put a cheek-to-cheek smile on your customer's face.
Showing your willingness to help at forehand gives you an advantage over the competition. Microsoft research has shown that 70% of customers think more highly of brands that contact them with proactive customer service notifications.
So what's the difference between responsive and proactive? It's all about who reaches out first.
Offering help when a customer asks for it is good. But it's not a game-changer. It's the bare minimum. It's expected. Do you want to make a difference? Then proactive customer service is the way to go.
Why you should go for proactive customer service
Nowadays, businesses are becoming more customer-focused than ever. They want to bind the customer and provide them with the best experience possible. Proactive customer service can help you to achieve this goal. Here are some reasons why:
Detect customer problems on time
Your proactive approach will get you to detect customer problems on time. This has the following advantages:
- The problem will not grow into something bigger;
- The customer is not losing time figuring out a solution themselves;
- You don't have to wait for complaints to add up;
- You will deal with less frustrated customers.
Thank me later for that last one.
Increase customer satisfaction
I think we can all agree on the fact that happy customers are the number one priority for any company. Good thing that proactive customer service contributes to customer satisfaction.
Make the best first impression
By connecting with customers right away, you get to know their issues, preferences, and provide them with valuable information. This engagement also prevents them from switching to your competitor before they really get to know you.
Collect valuable feedback
Gather feedback from your customers upfront and improve your service from thereon. This will prevent you from getting questions about tools, features, or products that you don't have (yet). And worse: from your customers switching to competitors to get these services there.
Earn more credibility
Proactively helping your customers helps to build trust towards your customers. When a customer has a question regarding your business, you provide them with a quick solution and advice. This gives customers the feeling that you care about their needs and makes you credible as a professional company.
Increase your conversion
There are different ways proactive customer service can increase your conversion:
- Let customer service agents inform prospects on improvements, offers, and deals. And let them answer some customer questions after. This is the perfect moment to turn leads into customers.
- By offering proactive support, you react to your customer's needs without delay. For e-commerce, this means no more cart abandonment and a reducing bounce rate. Your agent can even assist customers through the whole sales process until the deal is successfully closed.
- As for existing customers, proactive customer service is the perfect way to up-sell your products or services. Is your customer excited about your product or service? Show them the possibilities to make their experience even better.
All that glitter is not gold. To offer proactive customer service, you have to take action. It requires active efforts, especially from your customer service agents. It might also require some boundaries. For example, don't send your customers dozens of emails and chat messages.
You don't want to come across as a stalker.
Best practices for proactive customer service
I will give you some best practices to start offering proactive customer service right away.
1. Send greetings via live chat
Live chat does not only increase customer satisfaction but also your conversion. It offers a possibility for both customers and prospects to start a conversation with your team.
But since we have to get proactive, it is up to you to start the conversation. You can do this by sending a greeting message. This way, you immediately grab the attention of your visitor, and a conversation takes place more easily.
"Hi there. Welcome to [business]. Good to see you strolling around on our website. 👀 In case you have any questions, please let us know."
For more greeting ideas, you can check out these 15 best live chat greetings and see which one best fits your company.
2. Create selfservice possibilities
The easiest way to offer proactive customer service is by self-service possibilities. A good way to do this is with a help center. It answers all customer questions upfront and is available at all times. Customers can read, watch, learn, and help themselves without any interference from an agent.
Besides that, 70% of customers expect the company website to include a self-service application. So by creating a help center, you also respond to the needs of your customers.
3. Send in-app notifications
Another very interesting strategy to offer proactive customer service is using in-app notifications. It is a better way to communicate, engage, and sell to your customers.
How does it work?
When your customer is working in your app, a notification will pop-up. The best moments to put this into action are, for example, during onboarding, when launching new features, offering special promotions, and sharing important announcements.
Note: go easy on in-app notifications. Keep them informative and brief. When you send them out too often, your users may get annoyed by it.
We still don't want to come across as a stalker.
4. Follow up on new customers
When you get new customers on board, make sure they don't have to figure out everything themselves. Create a great onboarding process that allows them to get the most out of your product right away.
At Trengo, we send a follow-up email to all new trial accounts. Those are potential new customers who can try our product for 14-days. We provide them with tips and let them know how to contact us.
I'll give you an example:
"Hi [customer name],
You've been working in [business name] for a week now. I'm curious about your first experiences.
Via this email, I provide you with some extra tips to make sure you get the best out of your trial account.
In case you have questions, feel free to respond to this email. We will help you out as quickly as we can!
5. Offer loyalty programs
Customer loyalty is essential for every company: you want customers to stick around and spread the word. That's why you should do everything to maintain this customer relationship.
A proactive way to show your appreciation is by surprising your customers with small offers. You can send them an email with a discount code or a link to exclusive products. It's even better when what you're offering is based on the customer profile, such as recent purchases or product favorites.
You don't have to reward loyalty with only discount codes. What about free advertisement? You can also ask a loyal customer for a use case. Your customer will feel honored to share their story, knowing you publish it on your website. Chances are they will share it on their social channels as well.
Get active 💪
Offering responsive customer service is nice, but a proactive mindset will bring your customer service to the next level. If you walk that extra mile for your customer, they will proudly hold on to your brand and spread the word.
So, it's time to get active: reach out to your customers, ask questions, and provide them with upfront information. Create an account with Trengo and use our best practices to get your proactive customer service ready.