Every great product out there comes with at least ten other competitors. When your competitor is making a product that is as good or better than yours, the key differentiator for you to hold a sizeable chunk of the market share, is via exceptional customer service.
Yet, these days we find that even with a strong support team and a very consistent first response and resolution rate, customers want to move to products from other competitors.
“80% of companies believe they deliver superior customer service, while only 8% of consumers believe they’ve received outstanding customer service.”
This is an alarming statistic because here you were thinking you were being customer service king, while only 8% of your customers felt you were doing a good customer service job. The chasm in between is because you have been doing just customer service.
The bane of Reactive Customer Service
After usage of your product or service, if your customer comes to you with complaints, issues or clarifications, for which your support team responds via email or telephone, it comes under reactive customer service. Customers who come with issues are angry, frustrated or plain disappointed with some product or service and even though their issues are addressed, they are unhappy that the problem was not avoided in the first place.
Imagine you are able to resolve the customers’ problem, before they come to you for help. The customer is going to extremely confident about your product/service and it also increases customer loyalty and retention.
Why the next generation is all about being proactive
Being proactive is about preparing ahead for problems, anticipating issues and preventing problems from happening by offering communication and service ahead of time.
“Over 87% of customers prefer proactive customer service to ensure loyalty”
Incontact’s survey has clearly outlined the need for customer service. Customers are looking for the extra edge from their company and the service provided. Even letting customers send out mails and making them wait for a response, could have adverse consequences on your customer satisfaction.
“73% of customers expressed complete satisfaction for support via live chat, while 61% were happy with email and a mere 44% for phone support.”
eDigital’s Customer service report shows with the above datapoint that customers want instant gratification. This highlights the need for proactive customer service. As a company, you need to break out of your old-school reactive customer service model to achieve complete customer satisfaction.
Paradigm shift – How companies can move from reactive to proactive
Now that we have understood the imminent need for proactive customer service, what can a company do to move from their reactive model?
1. Proactive Management/Organization
Change begins from within. The entire organization’s management has to begin thinking in a proactive manner. Every move has to be made carefully keeping in mind that the hassles are prevented before the roadblock rather than scampering for solutions after hitting one.
2. Proactive hiring
Understand the customer service need and hire proactively. If you think there are ten members managing a consistent volume of support calls, hire another five to understand the support trends and build a customer service framework for eliminating these issues before they arrive.
3. Setting goals
Goals are very crucial for customer service. Outline a set of tasks for support members, set strong goals for your staff to provide proactive customer service and make sure that you understand your customer and his needs well before providing any kind of support.
Qualities or traits of a Proactive Customer Service Team
Let us also understand at a granular level, the things the customer service team has to do to ensure that proactive customer service is provided in the best possible manner.
Always stay in touch with your customers
“Whatever your business is, talk to your customers and provide them with what they want. It makes sense” – Robert Bowman, CEO Major League Baseball Advanced Media
It is a healthy practice to constantly stay in touch with customers. This not only helps you understand what his needs are, but also lets you know in advance if there are problems coming up. Occasionally, just drop a mail to your customers asking how things are going and if they are facing any issues. This not only makes the customer feel wanted, but also encourages him to communicate with you freely.
Reach out to your customer before he reaches out to you
Last month, my telecom service provider charged an extra 6$ for my 3G usage even though I had a 3G pack, because I had not realized that the data limit had been breached. If there had been a simple text message after my 3G data had been exhausted, I would have refrained from using 3G or recharged again.
Such simple issues cause a lot of frustration for customers. To prevent such problems,
- Inform them of an outage/downtime beforehand, offer an apology and give them a timeline before when it will be fixed
- Communicate to them that their issue is being addressed and that they will get periodic updates on your progress
- Provide a point of contact for them in case they need immediate assistance
- Make up for uninformed glitches by offering discounts or gift vouchers to ensure retention
Build a product/service that is proactive by itself
Taking a thread from a personal experience, HappyFox has some checks in place to alert the development team in case of server crashes or software problems, so that the support team knows of the issue before the customer does. This helps us immediately address the issue before the customer comes to us, or at least allows us to inform the customer about it before he realizes the same.
Gather feedback regularly
Every time any service is rendered to a customer, always follow it up with feedback and find out if he was satisfied with the support.
There is only one acceptable rating to your service and that is ‘Excellent’. Anything short of it, and you should follow up with the customer, find out what it was that stopped him from rating you ‘Excellent’ and do the needful to ensure it is done next time.
Self-service. Self-service. Self-service.
“57% of people are likely to abandon an online purchase if they are unable to find a quick answer to their questions”
Forrester reports like the above can tell you how much of a change a good self-support portal can make. Enable your customers to find their own solutions quickly and you are empowering an entire sea of customers to embrace self-support. A good knowledge base, forums and live-chat are all contributors to the same.
Listen to the online chatter
Social media can give some very valuable insights on what your customers are talking about. Have a team monitor your social media channels, tags and mentions to find out if customers are having any issues and address them on the same social media channel itself. This makes sure that your customers do not say anything negative about the product, considering the massive reach of social media.
Advantages of turning into a proactive support process
- You get to wow customers with your support. They are happy to know they are being cared for and will become brand advocates for your product
- The surprise element of a random mail or a phone-call offering a discount or just simply checking on them, increases their retention by leaps and bounds
- Cut support costs by preventing issues before they arrive
- Reduce support time and allow agents to focus on more critical and pressing issues
The HappyFox angle to proactive customer service
We at HappyFox strongly believe in proactive customer service and every feature in our help desk is attuned to provide the same.
- A robust knowledge base for empowering customers to get quick resolutions for issues
- An easy to use support center for them to engage with support staff, use the knowledge base or to gather information on issues
- Automation and smart rules to improve resolution time and reduce the work of support staff
- A strong social media channel to interact with our customers