A customer support person helping a customer via the phone
PHOTO: Adobe Stock

When a customer reaches out to a company, it’s likely because something has gone wrong. Customer service functions typically serve to manage defective products, shipping delays, billing issues and other problems. However, in the digital age, consumers expect more from brands than just standard service. They want to be surprised and delighted at every stage of their customer journey.

For companies, this means it’s no longer enough to snuff out fires that already took place. To meet these outsized needs, customer experience (CX) teams must adopt a more forward-thinking mindset or a proactive support strategy.

Defining Proactive Support

Traditionally, customer service has been a reactive field. Customers are the first to reach out — typically about a problem or issue that has already transpired — and are looking for a solution to an unsatisfactory experience. On the other hand, proactive support occurs when companies attempt to prevent problems or meet the needs of customers before they need to reach out.

But how do companies predict the future? The answer is a combination of both human insights and predictive analytics. Having engaged agents who know how to serve and delight customers is key, but so is having the right data and analytics tools in place to draw conclusions from.

“No matter how good your agents are, if you don’t have the data and single customer view that will enable them to understand everything about your customers, it’s very difficult to be proactive,” Brad Birnbaum, founder of Kustomer, said.

Why It Matters

Most importantly, offering proactive support is an effective way to boost customer satisfaction: according to research from Kustomer, 77% of customers said they like it when business communicate with them “in a proactive and personalized manner.”

When companies can be upfront about issues and attempt to solve them without the customer needing to spend additional time of effort, it improves trust. In addition, customers who feel they receive a better experience with a brand are more likely to stay loyal to them in the future.

Other benefits of proactive support include improving efficiency and scalability. When customer needs are solved ahead of time, CX agents have the capacity to focus on more significant inbound queries — and do it at scale. Proactive support also creates new opportunities for upselling and revenue generation by integrating marketing with customer service.

7 Steps to Make It Happen

A successful proactive support strategy involves a combination of support-focused and upsell-focused actions.

  1. Collect feedback and identify common issues: Capturing customer sentiment through various metrics allows organizations to understand how their customers feel and identify recurring issues and gaps in their CX strategy that can be solved proactively.
  2. Maintain robust self-service tools: Kustomer found that 67% of consumers prefer self-service over speaking with an agent. Utilize chatbots, FAQs, online forums and other tools to empower customers to quickly resolve issues on their own.
  3. Provide technology that enables proactive support: A customer relationship management (CRM) platform gives agents access to data that helps them better understand the customer. In addition, artificial intelligence and other tools can automate low-level tasks while agents focus on delivering better service and tackling more complex issues.
  4. Leverage appropriate communication channels: As SMS, social messaging and live chat grow in use, brands must spend more time on these conversation-based channels to provide personalized support and stay close to the customer at every step of their journey.
  5. Rectify issues before they happen: Proactive support should be a mindset shared across a company. Work with other departments (such as IT or marketing) to anticipate issues that might affect customers, communicate them and look for solutions in advance.
  6. Nurture customers with value-add content: CX teams can provide customers with content such as personalized recommendations, newsletters, feature updates and lifestyle content during support interactions.
  7. Upsell on preferred channels: Proactive outreach on chat-based channels can help companies upsell products and services in a personalized manner. These types of actions can also be automated.

Conclusion

With the right technology, agent skills and strategic mindset, companies can begin to build a CX function that is a true business differentiator among consumers. Proactive support also helps CX become more effectively integrated with marketing and sales, which translates into increased revenue and growth.

To learn more about implementing proactive support at your organization, download the full guide from Kustomer.