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How To Deliver Proactive Customer Service (And Why It Matters)

Customer service13 MIN READMay 29, 2023

Klaus making pizza.

Imagine this. Instead of just waiting to respond whenever there’s an issue (AKA providing reactive customer service), your customer service team can take matters into their own hands and reach out first.

It might not seem like much, but a proactive customer service strategy can drastically improve the customer experience at your company. Keep reading to get a solid understanding of what it takes to be successful at proactive customer support, and why it matters.

What is proactive customer service?

Proactive service is all about anticipating customer needs and addressing potential issues before they arise. Essentially, it’s about staying one step ahead of your customers and making their journey with your company as smooth as possible.

Klaus offering a one-way ticket to a better place.

Why should you provide proactive customer support?

Companies must do whatever they can to retain customers. Very rarely do customers reach out to report positive experiences. With reactive support, you’re always playing catch-up. Proactive support helps you get ahead of customer issues.
Tue Søttrup
Tue Søttrup
VP, CX Excellence & Chief Evangelist at Dixa

1. Increase customer loyalty and retention

Providing proactive customer support helps increase customer retention, which is an essential part of any successful business. Keeping customers coming back for more is the key to long-term success, which requires you to provide a great experience and value each time you interact with your customers.

If you’re serious about proactive customer service, encourage your team to go beyond transactional interactions and build meaningful connections.

When you think about it, you’re more likely to remember an agent that goes above and beyond to make the customer service experience pleasant, versus the one that doesn’t say a word (or sounds like a robot when they do).

Klaus being wholesome and uplifting.

2. Generate more sales

Customer retention is critical to sustainable growth — yet, securing repeat sales is far easier than attracting fresh clientele. That’s where proactive customer service comes in.

Back in the day, studies conducted by Harvard Business School showed that when companies invest in improving their customer service by just 5 percent, they can expect to see an increase in revenue of between 25-95 percent.

Existing customers tend to spend more, make frequent purchases, and are less price-sensitive compared to new customers. By nurturing these relationships and providing proactive support, you can maximize customer lifetime value (LTV), resulting in a sustainable revenue stream and improved profitability.

Also, loyal customers often become advocates, spreading positive word-of-mouth and recommending your company to others. What’s not to like about that?

Klaus making complex calculations.

3. Improve customer satisfaction

We can’t stress enough how improving customer satisfaction is essential for any business that wants to see growth. If your customers don’t like what you’re doing, you’ll never see success in the long term.

To achieve higher customer satisfaction, focus on providing excellent customer service and going above and beyond what your audience expects from you. Case in point:

I had a pair of jeans from & Other Stories, wore them once, and they ripped. I sent an email describing the issue. And then the next day, a customer service rep called me to say sorry and that it was not the type of quality they stand for. They sent me a return label and offered a refund. I was shocked and totally delighted that it was so easy. I just didn’t expect it.
Stephanie Robilliard
Stephanie Robilliard

See more proactive customer service examples →

Klaus having a bath and thinking about CSAT.

4. Collect valuable customer feedback

Without customer feedback, it’s difficult to know what aspects of your business could use some improvement. However, sometimes it’s not always easy to get your audience to spend their time offering feedback. 

The average CSAT survey response rate is 19% for chat, 5% for email, and 5% for phone. But, only 19% of all CSAT ratings have a comment beside the score.

Source: Customer Service Quality Benchmark Report

Here’s the good news — if you’re proactive in addressing their needs, customers will be that much more likely to share their experience with you. In whichever way you choose to gather feedback, this is crucial for finding out what works and what doesn’t. This is the only way to improve your processes according to what your customers want and need. 

How to collect feedback? Here are some of our top suggestions: 

  • Send out regular CSAT or NPS email surveys to gauge customer satisfaction and loyalty. 
  • Ask for reviews after a product is purchased (perhaps sneak in a discount code as an incentive to write the review!).
  • Use your community! Create a subreddit or a community page on your website with forums where customers can discuss things and propose feedback suggestions.
  • Open your DMs on social media (risky, but worth it!)

Klaus giving himself ten out of ten.

5. Take some pressure off your support reps

Seeing a reduction in the amount of pressure on your customer service agents shouldn’t be overlooked. Customers can be demanding (and sometimes downright claw-ful!), so it’s easy for agents to become overwhelmed if they don’t feel properly supported.

Rather than leaving the agents to deal with dissatisfied customers after the fact, training your team to take a proactive approach to customer service can prevent those issues from arising beforehand. This lowers the need for support calls and in turn results in a happy support team — and of course, happy customers! 

Not only is proactive support good for users, but it’s also better for internal teams. Proactively solving issues before they have a chance to land in your inbox frees up your team to deal with higher-priority, higher-impact problems. It also boosts employee NPS.
Mercer Smith
Mercer Smith
VP, CX Insight and Community at PartnerHero

Klaus disarming a bomb.

How to provide proactive customer service?

Consider this:

1. Anticipate your customers’ needs

As already mentioned, proactive customer service means anticipating and addressing your customers’ needs before they are expressed to you.

This can be as simple as encouraging your team to actively listen during support calls, but if you truly want to learn how to be proactive in customer service to stand out from the competition, analyzing your customer data is another key step in the process.

For starters, monitor customer behavior to identify trends or potential issues that customers may face and address them proactively. For example, if you notice that a customer is struggling with your products or services, reach out with helpful resources, tutorials, or personalized assistance to help them overcome the challenges.

Then, send out surveys or feedback forms regularly to gain insight into how customers feel about the products and services you offer, as well as what aspects need improvement. This can help you stay on top of customer needs, and make more informed decisions regarding potential product or service changes.

Use these insights to regularly update and improve your self-service resources, such as knowledge bases, FAQs, and tutorial videos. This ensures that customers always have access to the most up-to-date and relevant information, empowering them to resolve issues independently.

Klaus working along his colleagues.

2. Get ahead of customer complaints

Does your business proactively offer technical support or troubleshooting assistance to customers? This is important for getting ahead of customer complaints (and negative reviews…).

To do so proactively, ensure that your team is easily accessible and responsive through various channels like phone, email, live chat, and social media (Facebook or Instagram messages, for example). This allows you to stay on top of potential problems rather than dealing with a customer ranting through email who was previously sitting on hold for an hour and then ended up getting disconnected.

A good practice is also to follow up on customer support interactions, especially after serious issues or complaints. It shows that your business genuinely cares about the customer experience and is committed to ensuring their satisfaction even after the initial interaction.

I’ve consistently had the best customer service experience ever with Coolblue’s team calling me out of the blue to make sure that my issue was resolved. Every customer experience that I’ve had with them has been top-notch.
Ines van Dijk
Ines van Dijk
Quality in Support

Speaking of…

Klaus trying to find a problem.

3. Reach out to your customers first

Did you know that 85 percent of customers want to be proactively contacted by a company first, rather than having to reach out themselves?

If something doesn’t seem quite right — such as not receiving an expected delivery within a certain timeline — you should always be the one to reach out. This demonstrates care and concern toward your clients, which will help boost loyalty over time. You’re likely to receive a much more paw-sitive response after being the one to initiate contact. 

Even if there’s no issue, proactively engaging with your customers keeps you at the forefront of their minds — and their inboxes. So what are you waiting for? Initiate contact regularly.

Klaus needs answers.

4. Invest in your customer service team

It’s no secret that having a strong team in place is key when it comes to providing an exceptional experience each time clients interact with your business.

Yet, customer support teams often find it challenging to make their importance known throughout the entire company. According to a report by Hubspot, 40% of customer service leaders admit that their company views support as an expense rather than a catalyst for growth.

It’s important to note that a majority of leaders feel differently. In the long run, companies that prioritize support-driven growth will have a competitive advantage.

That being said: Are you constantly checking in on your team? Are they given the tools they need to succeed? Your team needs to feel empowered — this helps foster a positive and effective customer service culture.

Klaus is going to be with you, every step of the way.

Investing in comprehensive (and ongoing!) training is key to helping your employees to excel in their roles. Allow them to improve their customer service techniques through regular coaching and shadowing.

No matter which method of training you choose, ensure that adequate time is set aside for learning and improving regularly. Your agents should also be well-versed in product features and any relevant policies related to returns, exchanges, or warranties. This can help them provide accurate answers quickly without having to look up information while conversing with a client. 

Another great way to boost morale and empower your customer service team is to offer rewards or bonuses for your team members. Purr-haps you can cover their commuting costs, give them extra time off, gift them a massage voucher, or offer another small token of your appreciation to the support agent with the most positive customer reviews.

Nothing compares to a team who feels appreciated and supported — they’re much more likely to thrive in their roles! 

5. Start reviewing support interactions

Not sure if your team offers proactive customer service? Or maybe you’re having trouble identifying areas for improvement? Systematic conversation reviews are the only way your team can learn how to get the most out of all support interactions.

With quality assurance solutions like Zendesk QA (formerly Klaus), you can take a closer look at all your support interactions and do the following:

  • Review complex tickets to find weaker links in your support team’s performance and improve agent proactivity;
  • Go through all the conversations you’ve had with churned customers to understand what went wrong and avoid making the same mistakes in the future;
  • Target the interactions where the customer was dissatisfied to understand, identify, and get better at solving customers’ issues;
  • Go through a randomized sample to spot any growth opportunities for your product or service.

Though simple in nature, conversation reviews help you improve customer retention, drive loyalty, and increase revenue.

Klaus throwing a conversation review party on a beach.

A proactive customer support strategy pays off

In an ideal world, your customers should never have to come to you first.

So, instead of providing reactive customer service, try going proactive instead. By anticipating customer needs, addressing potential issues before they arise, and taking proactive measures to improve customer experience, you can improve retention and increase revenue.

Remember that proactive customer service doesn’t only benefits customers but also support teams. Essentially, it takes the pressure off support representatives by preventing issues from arising in the first place. This results in a happier support team and allows them to focus on higher-priority and higher-impact problems, improving overall efficiency.

To deliver proactive customer service, encourage your team to actively listen, analyze customer data, and stay on top of potential issues. Getting ahead of customer complaints by offering technical support and troubleshooting assistance is vital, as is proactively reaching out to customers to demonstrate care and concern.

In today’s competitive business landscape, proactive customer service is not just a nice-to-have — it’s a necessity. Follow the steps above to start delivering proactive support right meow.

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