Customer Success

Proactive Customer Service: Definition, Strategies & Examples

Learn what proactive customer service is. How you can strategically use it to improve your customer experience with example.

Introduction

Customer service is the backbone of any business. Every organization focuses on how to improve customer experience and service.

The reason is simple — a happy customer acts like a treasure that never dries up. However, if you are not proactive, the drought of customers becomes real.

What makes proactive customer service important is the kind of credibility it provides to a brand.

Credible brands take care of customers’ problems even if users are unaware. For example, Airbnb has many resources and a self-serving customer portal. It offers solutions for every problem customers face and educates them on the issues they are unaware of. It’s a proactive approach to providing customers with resources to resolve their issues and improve customer experience. 

However, proactive customer service is not just about FAQs and help centers. Let’s understand proactive customer service and its strategies to improve customer experience. 

What’s proactive customer service?

Proactive customer service is a type of customer service designed to anticipate and address customers' needs before they have a chance to interact with your support team. It's a proactive approach that helps reduce the need for support agents to spend time addressing issues that have already been caused.

Proactive customer service can be implemented in various ways. But the most common way is to send automated customer messages based on their past interactions or behavior. These messages can be sent directly from your support system, or they can be sent as part of promotional emails or newsletters.

Proactive customer service aims to ensure that all customers have a pleasant experience and that their problems are resolved as quickly as possible. You can help your customers fix issues before they become too big to handle by providing timely and relevant information.

There are many benefits to proactive customer service, including:

  • Increased customer satisfaction (CS) — When your customers feel like they're constantly being heard, the level of satisfaction is higher. Proactive customer services allow companies to improve CS by using preventive measures like self-help portals, AI-based chatbots, and more.
  • Higher conversion rates — When your customers know that they can always reach you quickly and that you're always willing to help them out, they're more likely to purchase from you.
  • Reduced complaints — The proactive approach uses gamification, where users can solve most problems using self-help modules. So, there will be fewer complaints with customers resolving them through your proactive modules.
  • Increased loyalty — Customers always associate with brands that care for them. Proactive customer services provide a sense of 
  • Increased sales — By providing excellent customer service, you'll naturally increase sales because your customers will feel like they need to buy from you more often to ensure that their issues are resolved quickly and efficiently.

Proactive vs. reactive customer service

Proactive customer service is characterized by the proactive efforts of a company to anticipate and proactively address customer needs.

Reactive customer service, on the other hand, is marked by the reactionary reactions of companies to customers' inquiries or complaints, often without prior notification or consultation with those affected.

In other words, reactive customer service is when you resolve customers’ problems after they experience them. On the other hand, the proactive approach helps you execute preventive measures. 

So, customers have the solution to problems that they may experience or simply don’t know about. 

Key differentiators Reactive customer service Proactive customer service
Functionality Reactive customer service is single-functional and focuses only on the issue where customers are facing difficulty. Proactive customer service is cross-functional and focuses on not just a single pain point but any problem that customers may encounter.
Effectiveness Reactive customer services deliver value only after a customer has experienced a roadblock or pain point. A proactive approach is more effective as it resolves the problem before its occurrence.
Impact on the customer journey It impacts touchpoints of the customer journey only for existing customer needs. It can affect touch points across customer journeys for existing and new users.
Customer experience impact Medium impact n the experience High impact on the customer experience
Main advantage Helps boost customer satisfaction and is more problem-oriented Allows organizations to attract new customers and retain existing users.

Now that we know the differences between proactive and reactive customer service, implementation is the next important aspect to discuss. So, here are some key strategies you can use to implement proactive customer service.

Critical strategies for optimized proactive customer service

Proactive strategy will help you improve the process of preventive customer service. It also works as a catalyst for improving communication between customers and businesses.

Communicate openness & accessibility 

Providing proactive customer service is key to ensuring your customers feel open and accessible while communicating with you. When they know you are available to answer any questions or help them solve their problems, it makes them more likely to reach out again when needed. 

Additionally, being able to respond quickly will decrease the chances of a customer feeling frustrated or pushed away. Ensure that your tools and processes support this goal, from your contact forms to your social media channels. 

Gather customer feedback & insights

When proactively measuring customer service, organizations can collect customer feedback and insights about how it meets their needs. For example, you could ask questions like

  • What requests do you make most often? 
  • What services did we provide that were helpful or met your expectations? 
  • Did anything in our customer service experience upset or confuse you? 
  • By hearing directly from customers what they need and want, proactive customer service can better serve its constituents.

Further, businesses can leverage an omnichannel strategy to gather customer feedback. Social media is a popular platform for gathering feedback. Answering a social media complaint can increase customer advocacy by 25 percent

Darshan Somashekar, who runs the word gaming site Unscrambled Words, suggests getting feedback while a user is engaged with your product.

“We run survey prompts while users are on our site. Users provide great feedback while using our products and appreciate that we proactively reach out to them.”

Imagine increased customer association and loyalty when you use proactive customer service across social media channels. This not only helps you retain customers but also allures more potential customers.

Pay attention to customer pain points — proactively

Paying attention to customer problems is key to improving customer experience. During your first one-on-one meeting with a new customer, a proactive approach involves identifying customer pain points before they can experience them.

For example, if you are an eCommerce website, creating onboarding documentation is essential; you must consider different touch points across the onboarding journey. 

Similarly, you need to predict specific pain points. However, forecasting the pain points is not easy. One way to do it effectively is by using sitemaps or customer journey maps. Analyze the customer journey maps and touchpoints to identify specific issues that customers can face.

Resolve the first interaction

Resolving issues on the first interaction is a critical proactive strategy. According to a survey, two-thirds of the complaints go unresolved and escalate to formal complaints. So, It is essential to resolve issues on first interactions through a proactive approach. 

One way to resolve the problems on the first interaction is to leverage Artificial Intelligence. You can build AI-based chatbots and improve first interaction efficiency.

Leveraging AI for proactive customer support

AI-based chatbots can help interact better, but what if you want to guide your customers on key processes and functions? You can use automated documentation to guide customers resolve their issues. 

For example, you can create an automation process for customers launching the Zoom call right from the Google calendar.

Using automation makes sense if you are an ed-tech company that wants its enrolled students to have instant access to video sessions. You can use tools like Scribe to create automation for your customers' functions or documentation. 

Create self-serving systems

Automation can help with documentation for specific processes and create self-serving systems. One of the best ways to make a self-serving system is to use smart interfaces. Customers can use such an interface to resolve issues without needing customer support executives.

However, it is a friendly approach, and you can find such interfaces in many fast-food retail stores worldwide. A similar approach can help implement proactive customer services for enhanced user experience.  Another fine example is the generation of automated ticket responses that act as self-serving instructions. 

Many customer issues are due to user errors. Self-service instructions are one of the finest support ticket response examples for proactive customer service. Strategies are just an idea, but it’s the execution that matters!

So, here are some examples of proactive customer service approaches to understanding the implementation.

Proactive customer service examples

Why do you need to analyze the examples of proactive customer support? It helps you know how organizations have successfully implemented proactive customer support.

Chicago music exchange

Businesses greet their customers with welcome messages. However, what if you can provide all the resources with a quick response right at the first interaction  The Chicago music exchange treats you with an excellent automated chat with the first interaction. 

It is a proactive approach where users can access many interaction options. They can resolve the issues within the automatic chat options, talk to an agent, or simply use the marketplace to sell your musical instruments.

Similarly, you can use a quick response chat and provide multiple issues a user can face during the first interaction. It can be onboarding documentation, multiple chat response channels, and others.

 Hootsuite helpers program

Hootsuite uses a five-step community program that includes identifying pain points, integrating social channels, and employing a team of helpers. 

In the Secret Sauce series of Freshdesk,  Kiersty Traill, VP of customer support at Hootsuite, says, “Chat is our most dominant channel, and we offer support across the full suite of channels. Of course, we’re a social media company, so we’re a social-first company. We have a strong bias towards our social media partners and providing our customers with the support they expect.”

Hootsuite’s helper program is a community of customers that help each other across social channels. Using the proactive approach of creating a community of customers and a self-help program,  Hootsuite reduced complaints and improved customer satisfaction by 95 percent using the helper’s program.

Similarly, you can leverage social media channels and create a community of customers that can help each other resolve issues.

Budget truck rental

If you are thinking of helping customers with a proactive approach, it can be as simple as creating a self-serving portal.  Budget truck rental is one of the key companies offering trucks for rent. So, to help customers who want to book a new pickup or even know the status of their bookings, Budget truck rental creates a web-based virtual agent.

If you go to the website, there is a single search bar for all your queries. It is an interesting proactive approach because it caters to many customer questions.

The search for answers is easy as all you need is a keyword. So, even if a new customer is having their first interaction and wants to know how to book rentals, a simple search is enough!

You can use a similar approach and help customers resolve their queries without needing customer agents. 

Conclusion 

Customer service is key to business success. However, reactive customer service is restricted to specific customer problems only. Proactive customer service helps resolve multiple pain points for existing and new customers. 

So, there is no denying that a proactive approach is essential. However, implementing it right becomes key to improving customer experience. Therefore, you need to analyze specific requirements for your business and choose a suitable strategy.

Author Bio

Mehdi Hussen is a SaaS marketing and organic growth consultant. He helps SaaS businesses drive organic growth and customer acquisition through SEO and data-driven content marketing strategies. Mehdi spends his spare time musing about startup growth strategies, personal productivity, and remote work. Connect with him through Twitter or LinkedIn