Proactive customer service relies on data and tools, from the analog to the automated:
Asking customers what they want is an important customer-service tool. Customer surveys are the most obvious way to get this feedback, but brands have other ways to glean information:
- Track customer behavior on websites and apps to see where interactions drop off or encounter obstacles. If shoppers place products in carts but leave before checking out, that might be a clue that shipping prices are too high or that checkout is complicated.
- Gather support-desk or customer-service data to track the most common troubleshooting issues. The information can indicate which products, services, or processes cause the most problems and can identify gaps in service information provided to customers.
Providing customers with accurate and easy-to-access self-help information is another way to provide proactive customer service. The simplest is a list of frequently asked questions addressing the most common issues. Discussion forums where customers can share insights with other users of the same products or services can also be helpful. The key is to ensure that the information is easy to access and refreshed regularly.
Automation is critical to anticipating customer needs and addressing them proactively. For instance, customer-service automation can track delays in orders, investigate solutions, and inform customers of the new delivery schedule long before the customer realizes the order is late.
Measuring the proactive customer experience
Tracking the performance of proactive customer service is much the same as measuring any customer interaction. The most common metrics are:
- Retention rate. This metric details the percentage of customers that stay with an organization over time. Providing a proactive experience can increase customer loyalty and lead to repeat business.
- Churn rate. The opposite of the retention rate, churn rate measures how many customers are lost over time.
- Number of support tickets/resolution time. The upward movement in the number of support tickets can indicate whether there are problems with products or services that should be resolved—and if the support team needs to be beefed up. Conversely, a decline in support tickets could indicate proactive service’s success.
Anticipating customers’ needs doesn’t require clairvoyance; it only takes seeing your organization the way your customers do and imagining what would make them happy doing business with you. When the proactive customer experience goes beyond the routine, it’s more likely to be a hit.