Improving Customer Relationships: The Four Pillars of Proactive Customer Service

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A reactive customer service model used to be enough for a company to survive. However, social media and the emphasis on customer experience has made proactive customer service essential to building a loyal customer base that helps a company thrive. Proactive customer service is rooted in responsive behaviors like adapting processes and technology to better suit the needs and wants of customers.

That kind of ongoing evolution requires departments across the company to be aligned—both in purpose and execution. These four pillars are the foundational elements that uphold the many complicated aspects of proactive customer service:

  1. Customer-Centricity

Becoming customer-centric means always focusing your attention on the needs of the customer. Every decision made should involve considering how this will affect customers both directly and indirectly. Customers are more committed to a brand when they feel respected and appreciated. Forecasting and monitoring satisfaction will only take you so far if you’re not committed to customer-centricity as a mission.

Companies collect a lot of information about the customers they serve. Analyzing this data for existing trends and to predict upcoming needs is a great way to get started with a customer-centric approach. Even departments that don’t directly interact with customers should still consider how their role plays into overall customer satisfaction.

  1. Customer Experience Monitoring

As more potential customers seek out reviews on sites like Yelp and Facebook, real experiences and reputation have become major criteria for purchasing decisions. For long-term success and growth, companies must actively and regularly monitor the customer experience so that existing customers stay and new customers feel confident trying you out.

Customer experience monitoring requires designing a customer feedback process. Truly effective processes include several ways for customers to offer their opinions. This can be done through many ways, including:

  • Customer surveys
  • Social listening
  • Capturing Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) from calls
  • Reviewing queries entered in to your site’s search function
  1. Forecasting

Customer service needs ebb and flow, but some spikes and lulls are more predictable than others. Data like previous product launch numbers, web traffic patterns, and seasonal call volume trends allow proactive call centers to predict (or forecast) future needs and respond accordingly. This often includes increased staffing at high-need times or writing out FAQs and their answers to emphasize the consistency and accuracy of information given to customers. These practices can reduce wait and handle times—two huge pain points for customers—allowing call centers to remain cost-effective while offering excellent support.

  1. Continuous Improvement Focus

Sharing the gathered information helps steer management towards making intelligent, informed decisions. Companies can capitalize on what’s working well. At the same time, processes that irritate customers or create more work for them can be changed to serve everyone better. This can lead to cost savings and higher customer retention numbers. When customers know you’re continually working to improve their experience and satisfaction, they often express their appreciation through brand loyalty.

Together, these pillars create a firm foundation for more thoughtful and precise customer relationship management. Changes in service expectations and technology mean that even excellent customer service will continue to evolve as time goes on. Relationships between companies and their customers morph organically, and truly customer-centric companies must have the flexibility to alter and respond to new challenges and goals.

 

Featured image: Shutterstock/Itummy

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