As the modern retail experience has shifted in recent years, so have the expectations of the modern consumer. Traditional, reactive customer support, during which companies only address customer issues after they’ve taken place, is no longer enough for today’s customers. In order to keep customers happy and loyal, companies have to employ a proactive customer support strategy to stay ahead of needs and issues long before a customer has the chance to be dissatisfied. In this blog, we’ll examine the difference between reactionary and proactive support styles and walk through five of our favorite proactive customer support examples from major brands like Airbnb and Netflix.
What Is Proactive Customer Support?
Customer support is no longer a “nice-to-have” feature. It is a vital piece of any business, and oftentimes, there is a direct correlation between success and excellent customer support. Customer expectations are heightened. The faster and more conveniently brands can resolve customer issues, the more satisfied the customer is with their experience. In fact, according to Kustomer research, 85% of consumers think customer service should be faster. So how do we take traditional customer support and improve the overall experience? Through a shift in mindset toward a more proactive support strategy.
Proactive Customer Support Versus Reactive Customer Support
Reactive support only offers support after the customer has reached out due to an issue or question. The problem with this support strategy is that it fails to create satisfied customers — it only deals with customers once they’re dissatisfied with your brand. Reactive support is often handled through email or phone, oftentimes externally. This support style fails to consider the customer journey as a whole.
Proactive support on the other hand empowers brands and CX teams to offer resources and support in anticipation of potential issues and questions, attempting to solve the problem long before the customer reaches out. The goal in proactive customer support is to get ahead of potential issues by reaching out to customers, offering self-learning resources, and being honest when something goes wrong. We often see this style use real-time support channels such as live chat, SMS and social media direct messages to resolve issues faster and ultimately reduce customer churn.
Why Adopt a Proactive Approach?
Adopting a proactive approach is truly a win-win. Whether it be reducing wait times and stress or gathering invaluable feedback earlier on in the customer journey, being proactive in your support helps you and your customer.
Customer loyalty: Engaged customers are often easily retained. There are opportunities for businesses to harness data like prior purchase history and customer preferences to offer discounts or share low inventory alerts on items you know customers actively seek out. Taking a proactive support approach fosters a sense of loyalty and allows customers to build a personal connection with your brand.
Improved customer satisfaction (CSAT) score: CSAT is one of the most insightful customer service metrics. Measured through a Likert scale question, it’s used to measure a customer’s feelings about an individual interaction with your support team. Customers appreciate brands reaching out to them first and having streamlined means of communication. In fact, the customer satisfaction rate for brands using live chat to communicate with customers in 2020 was an incredible 85.6%. When customers are happy, they’re more likely to make a purchase and stay loyal.
Increase sales: Reaching out in real-time and offering proactive support can even increase sales. If a customer cannot find an answer quickly and easily, they will abandon their purchase. However, a support agent reaching out to a customer on the fence about their purchase could seal the deal.
Proactive Customer Support Examples We Love
As customer service evolves and demands grow, companies are establishing new ways of engaging customers before they even make a purchase. Here are some of the newest proactive customer support examples that we love:
FAQs are a simple but very effective method of proactive customer support through self-service. Airbnb, for example, has a robust FAQ center. There is a lot of detail involved in booking an experience through Airbnb, and they have come up with a clean yet comprehensive way to answer common questions. Not only does this FAQ page come broken out by population, but it also offers the visitor — whether guest, host or admin — the opportunity to search for questions via a search bar at the top of the page. Content is presented as a topic-specific long-form article with opportunities for the reader to explore their question further. This type of proactive self-service is precisely what today’s customer is looking for.
An automated, AI-powered chatbot can be an incredibly effective form of proactive and personalized support. Starbucks utilizes its automated chatbot to prompt users with any questions they may have while also simplifying the ordering process. In anticipation of the possible frustration of waiting in line, the tool also notifies customers when an order is ready, preemptively avoiding the dissatisfaction of the line.
An intelligent chatbot in the e-commerce space can also improve the customer experience long-term by tracking customer preferences and applying that data in future interactions. Starbucks collects customer ordering preferences and uses them to help them order their favorite drink quickly. This proactive customer support example makes the ordering process so enjoyable and easy that customers will likely come back for more.
Collecting data from previous customer issues and interactions is essential to developing an effective proactive customer support strategy. It can be used to identify common issues and brands can develop resources specifically to cater to those problems, which is what proactive support is all about.
AT&T noticed that new customers often experienced “bill shock” from not understanding how to interpret their first bill when they received it. Knowing this, AT&T developed a personalized video that walks customers through the process of understanding and paying their bills, which they include a link to in every customer’s first bill. This helps AT&T unclog support call volume at billing time every month and promotes paperless billing — saving both the customer and agent time and stress.
New Feature Tours
Some forms of proactive support can serve double duty by preemptively resolving questions and also promoting a new feature or product.
Trello’s recent redesign shows us that not all product tours should happen during onboarding. In a simple, four-step navigation introduction, Trello is able to walk users through exciting changes and provide suggestions on optimizing their experience. In this proactive customer support example, the goal was to get users to switch to the new Trello interface. Though, this proactive strategy is a great example of engaging with users to get them excited about new features.
Taking initiative in customer support is much more important than attempting to hide an issue that’s come up. Netflix users, for example, experience a total loss of their ability to use the service when video streaming issues arise on the platform. Rather than trying to sweep it under the rug, Netflix proactively releases a statement anytime streaming issues take place making users aware of the outage, sometimes offering all users a credit on their accounts.
While bad news is never good to receive, customers appreciate it when brands are upfront with them, increasing their trust and loyalty.
Proactive Support With Kustomer
In order to successfully implement a proactive customer experience strategy, brands and teams need the right tools in place to collect customer data and apply it to proactive support decisions. The Kustomer CRM helps teams collect and analyze customer data and proactively reach audiences based on various factors such as:
- Time spent on the page
- Last page visited
- Geographical locations
- Attributes based on log-in information
Proactive customer service is the future of the customer experience. Learn more with our Guide to the Future of CX.