Customer service is a proactive blend of online and offline actions
You’ve got a lot of ground to cover if you think that customer service is what kicks in if your website visitors are having problems. The days of reactive customer service programs are gone. It’s just not good enough.
Don’t wait for customers to contact you with a problem. Be proactive. Engage them before, during, and after their purchase experience with you. Here’s why proactive customer service must be an integral part of what you’re calling your “user interface.”
What buyers want
Customer service can mean many things, and it’s not always trouble. What’s troubling is that multiple studies show that 25% to 40% of calls to customer service centers are avoidable. These calls happen for reasons ranging from a simple question to confusion about delivery times.
They’re costly to your organization, especially when customers should have been able to find the information whey wanted on your company website.
“How’s it going?”
Here’s something your website’s user interface just isn’t going to be able to accomplish. Customers prefer to be contacted proactively. One survey puts this preference as high as 87%.
Of those who expressed an opinion, 73% said they had a positive experience that led to a better view of the company when they were contacted proactively by customer service. This “how’s it going?” approach can reduce your inbound customer call volume by nearly a third, which can dramatically lower your call center operating costs.
Before they’re even customers
The website is where they’ll buy. Your interface has to create a successful sales funnel. But what can your customer service department combined with the website do for these people while they’re still prospects? Together, they create your complete user interface.
The majority of the barriers to a sale are simply the need for more information. The more proactive you can be about providing answers, the faster you’ll move prospects to the buying stage.
Turning the tables and transforming your customer service philosophy from reactive to proactive isn’t novel. It is something that has become more of an expectation, though.
This is mainly because of the user experience a customer has with your organization online. The buying experience continues to be more customized. Customers value this heightened level of attention, and it’s not difficult to see why an offline proactive customer service approach complements the customized online experience.
What gets in the way?
Proactive customer service becomes an obvious step as organizations develop offline relationships. So, why don’t we see more of it?
Most companies aren’t structured for it. Much more of an organization becomes customer facing when an organization transitions to offer customer service before the sale. It requires collaboration across departments that may not ever have seen themselves as responsible for customer service.
Silos have to be breached. Organizations must offer training and help to create a level of comfort for employees who suddenly find themselves interfacing with prospects and customers in a “how’s it going?” proactive role. Here are ways to get everybody on the same page.
• Mix and match: Match different people to the customer lifecycle for your product or service. Challenge them to work collaboratively and find ways to offer proactive customer service for these points.
• Play Sherlock: Gather the data and seek out the most common reactive customer issues or questions. Look for ways these issues and questions can be defused. Remember that much of your traditional reactive customer service resources are going just to answer post-purchase questions that could have been taken care of before the sale.
• Find and promote early wins: It’s going to take a while for long-held beliefs to be reprogrammed. A transition to proactive customer service needs to demonstrate some quick and obvious benefits to get everyone on board. This is especially going to be true for employees who don’t feel as if their positions are customer-facing. And in today’s customer-centric environment, everyone in an organization represents a company’s product or service.
Both sides benefit
A switch to proactivity is good for both a company and its customers. The internal engagement and collaboration you’ll generate will spark innovation as disparate departments team up to step in front of each stage of the customer lifecycle. Their efforts to anticipate and prevent customer issues are more than an expectation to match up with customized online experiences. They’re also a way for you to reduce the high, measurable costs of thinking that a customer only needs attention if they have a problem.
If you’d like to learn more ways to align all phases of your business with your company’s online experience, contact Creative Technology Partners. For more information about our services, reach out to us today through our online contact form.